Up early to get our breakfast pancakes, and ready to set off about 9am. However, the girls were still pretty jet lagged so slept a bit later and then got ready, leaving us good to go about 1200. We hopped on the bikes and went to the bike master again, then grabbed some lunch and some supplies for the road, meaning we left Osh properly about 230.
The road was good quality for the most part but slow going – as expected. Lots of gentle climbs, meaning we were going about half-speed the entire time. Not fast, not slow, but going about 10km/h. There were loads of kids along the way and they would, without a single absence, wave and shout Hello or ‘Wei-wei’ (I think). It was especially nice when I was cycling past a field of girls picking flowers, and almost as one they all rose up and waved to me, smiling and giggling.
Another one that stuck out was the kids that ran along side me as I was climbing one of the hills – just as they were about to catch I stood up on the pedals and was able to keep ahead of them, but only by a hair. Then there was the toddler on his trike who rode alongside me on the pavement, then when I outpaced him he tried to keep up as best as he could – super adorable. Finally, there were two boys, one on a bike and the other on roller skates (both a bit older, 9/10) who were able to keep pace with me for about five minutes. They were super sweet and just wanted to ride alongside me as I went, but as soon as I reached the top of the hill I was flying on the descent. Bike kid kept up for a little bit but rollerblades wasn’t even going to try it. Even as I got further and further away, bike kid just kept waving and shouting goodbye. Really nice.
We stopped for a break around 530 and sat in the shade by the side of the road for a while. Anne bonked so needed to stop so we ate some eggs and bread, then got back on it – I would find a campsite and Ryan would try and find water.
Bottom of that hill I found some potential campsites, but nothing was perfect until I saw a nice spot – flat and near a river – but there was no way to enter it, all fenced off. I cycled a little closer to find there was a patch that was a makeshift gate, so once the rest of the gang arrived I opened it up, we wheeled our bikes in and started to get set up. Once the tents were set up, Anna and Ryan went to get water while Irina and I got the respective dinners on. Twenty minutes passed and no sign of them, so I wandered down to find out the filter had stopped working. I took a look at it and was able to get it functioning a little better, but not up to scratch. Well we had enough water to cook so that would do. One of the best camp dinners later – rice and tuna with beans, sweetcorn and green beans – we had a game of cards in my tent and then settled down to sleep. Good first day of the climb, but we only got 42km. It’s another 44 to Gul’cha and then another hundred to Sary Tash. We really need to get to the Chinese border by Friday, which shouldn’t be a problem, but we definitely need to increase our daily distance.