May 3

We spent our first day in Osh almost entirely in the hostel, just eating and chilling – I was still feeling pretty sick so wasn’t up to much.  Day two was spent doing much of the same, but we did have a trip to the Velomaster – the premier bike repairman in Osh.  It took us quite a while to find him, as he was down a dusty side street on an already dusty side street, but once we finally tracked him down we knew he was the right guy.  I wanted to get my spokes checked, as it had been a few thousand since they’d been looked at, and as soon as I whipped my wheels off he knew exactly what was going on.  Although he didn’t have a lot of fancy kit, he was really excellent at what he did and had all four of our wheels checked and sorted within a half hour.  He was a super friendly guy as well, and we talked as much as is possible.  He told me about his family, his kids and his life – all without us sharing a common language of course – and all the people in the bike area were really curious about our bikes.  They especially like the USB Plug I have and I almost always get asked how much it was.  After our bikes were ready for the road, we headed back to the hostel and I tried, unsuccessfully to change my chain.  It just didn’t happen as it was a tiny bit too tight, so I’ll ride with the old one and hope it’s fine.

When we woke up on the Sunday we were raring to go – these were the highest point we’d ever cross and it was probably going to be tough.  We went and got our customary breakfast of incredibly cheap pancakes, and just as I finished up I noticed two touring bikes parked outside.  Tariq, a Londoner living in Switzerland told me that they belonged to two Dutch girls who were cycling to Kashgar.  Well we hadn’t ridden with anyone on this entire trip, so we thought it’d be nice to wait for them – surely they’d only be staying in Osh one night.  They’d crashed in their rooms and I didn’t get to meet them until later that afternoon, but Anne and Irene turned out to be awesome.  They were cycling the Karakorum Highway, from Osh to Kashgar, then down to Islamabad in Pakistan.  We would ride with them until Kashgar then say our goodbyes once we arrived.  We decided to leave together the following morning/afternoon, as they were pretty jetlagged.  Decision made, they went back to bed and I whiled away the afternoon cleaning my bike and talking with people.

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