Silky Smooth

Silky Smooth

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It's an adventure that so many people dream of achieving, you know. It's just it has such a magnitude. Because you go... in a place that is so remote. I mean if you look at the bikepacking circuit right now and if you look at where the races are. This one is very special, you know. You go in a place that... pretty much nobody goes there, you know... it's just...

like when i tell people about the country most of them they never heard of it. Never heard of Kyrgyzstan. They don't know where it is, they have no idea it exists. If you were to take a hundred people and tell them "alright try and put kyrgyzstan on a map" maybe five would be able to kind of point it out.

All of the challenges that you that you find in bikepacking, they are all there, you know. Some of the races they have the the challenge of altitude, some have the challenge of weather, some have the challenge of remoteness. Silk road mountain race just as it all. And the first edition happened in 2018 and people kind of looked at it... like there was like 100 people racing, people lookedat it, they were kind of curious and then they noticed that it was brutal. But also that it was absolutely magnificent.

And yeah the next year, all the top racers they just wanted to go there, you know. Because it seemed like the ultimate challenge. Like, what can I do with this track? What can I do with this route? How fast can I go? And yeah that's why I wanted to do it because it's quite possibly the hardest bikepacking race in the world. You know, it's the one that has the most challenges. Race starts tomorrow. So it's the time for the last tune-ups.

I got here nine days early, a bit more than a week ago. Because I wanted to ride around, I wanted to take a little bit of time just to acclimatize to the altitude. So I did a little trip, around 700 / 800 kilometers. Sleeping at mostly 2000 meters and a couple times at 3000 meters. Just so that the beginning of the race wouldn't be a shock to my body.

Here's the bike. Today is the big day. I'm gonna go to the registration, then they're gonna load up our bikes in big trucks Then we're gonna hop on buses.

Five hour ride to Talas, which is the start of the race. I don't really like these moments before the race. It's my first time starting at night and it's like, man, it's just like... you wake up and

you know it's the race day and you still have so much time to wait and I just wanna i just want to... you know... start and get on with it! So if you're wondering what happened is that the shuttles that transported just to the start were kind of an hour behind schedule. Which was okay. The bigger problem was that the trucks that were transporting the bikes got there at 3am and it's now 4 am and I think we should start anytime soon. So we started at 4 am, a 6 hour delay. I took the lead early Got to the top of the first climb after four hours Then I got a pinch flat on the downhill.

Slowed me down a little bit but it was okay as no one caught me. It's 8 p.m now. Sun is about to set on the first day of the Silk Road mountain race. I've been riding for about 15 hours. Feel pretty exhausted. It was very hot today In front of me stands a 3000m pass That obviously I'm gonna have to tackle at night.

I'm hoping that I can make it to CP1 in Kotchkor in about 24 hours. It's gonna be a long night I started about an hour and a half ago, after stopping for a couple of hours just to lay in my sleeping bag. I was just... I was just tired, physically tired mentally exhausted from all the climbing on the really bad roads and i just needed a break Got caught in a snowstorm I'm not even 3000 meters high I still have 500 meters to climb to almost 3400. I have no idea what the conditions will be like up there I hope it's gonna be okay.

I gotta I gotta keep moving anyway Sometimes you don't need to be smart, you just need to be stubborn End of day 2. I made it to the first checkpoint in Kotchkor Just had a good meal. I'm gonna get a shower and then I'm gonna get a good 4 hours of sleep and then i'll be good to go for the rest of the race.

Morning of day 3 already When the alarm set off I was like "what the fuck is happening?" My heartbeats went from 50 bpm to 200... in a matter of one second When i left, it was raining. It's not raining anymore.

It looks like looks like it could be a sunny day, today which would uh... should be good because i have a lot of clothes that needs drying as well as my shoes I think this is my favorite day so far I've been riding in the middle of nowhere for several hours now I think this is the most remote part of Kyrgyzstan that we've been to in the race so far and uh it's absolutely amazing. I just love it. I'm in Tamga on this morning of day four First coffee of the race Sun is shining.

Which is good news because shoes are wet again Yesterday was quite hard and then i got here i think around 1am and as soon as i got here it started pouring rain so i hope they can they can dry during the day. Would be nice So i'm climbing up Tosor pass It's a rather short climb, compared to the climbs that I had the last couple days Some of these climbs were like 100km long usually like 1 or 2% average gradient for a really long time and then towards the end the actual pass with a really steep 10 to 15% gradients this one is 30 kilometers long about 2100 meters of elevation gain Sun is about to set on day 4 and i'm still in the process of climbing down all the way to Naryn, where i'll be stopping for the night I crashed on day 1... And uh... It was dark, a car passed me, creating a cloud of dust I couldn't see the road, hit a big rock with my front wheel, pinched the tire, damaged the sidewall, had to put a tube in and now i've been struggling with pinch flats So i'm losing quite a bit of time just fixing them, putting patches and stuff I hope it's going to hold up now and tired of losing time this way So last night turned out to be quite interesting not in a good way though At the beginning of the evening one of my spoke on the rear wheel broke and not too long after, a second one broke as well and then a third one so I relieved tension there on the drive side but still a fourth spoke broke and then a fifth one So I was really in the middle of nowhere with my broken spokes and for I don't know pretty much the entire night i thought that i was i was gonna have to drop out I managed to go all the way to Tash-Rabat, where I could get a lift to At-Bashy And there, in a little hardware store they had spoke nipples and so i completely relaced the wheel I replaced all the nipples It was one of the longest night of my life.

Didn't get any sleep Hiked my bike a lot and yeah I'm glad this is over 500 km to the finish: let's do this! Okay everything is sorted out. I got a room with two beds and a carpet and it's only 4€! wow what a bargain! I didn't get any sleep last night because of my troubles with the wheels and the... you know... the race in general Alright boys and girls, all packed up and ready to go It's 5am and i'm not gonna lie it's not getting easier getting up in the morning But i'm glad I got to to spend the night in a hotel, sleeping in a good bed It was a nice change from yesterday where I spent the night just pushing my bike and wondering if i would have to scratch So i'm thankful that i get to ride my bike and then i don't know what the rest of the ride will hold Hopefully it will be good I know from the CP3 to the finish it's going to be quite hard Hopefully it's my last day on the Silk Road mountain race I've seen so many horses here. Hundreds... thousands even.

It's time to say goodbye to them Goodbye horses... I'm flying over you... Goodbye horses... I'm flying flying flying over you You may or may have not recognized this song by Q Lazzarus, 1988 It is featured in the movie "The silence of the lambs" when the serial killer put his penis between his leg and pretends he's a woman. So here we are, this is morning of day 8 When I left Baetov yesterday morning, I was determined to ride all the way to the finish... in one go But my mind and my body didn't really agree on that yesterday It is now 6:30am. It's freezing cold here and I got to climb Kegety So it's another 1100 meters of elevation that I gotta climb It's supposed to be really hard, with lots of hiking but the downhill is supposed to be good I'm now 200km from the finish. Barring any issues, I should get there late tonight It's hard to give an estimate, but i would say maybe between...

I don't know... midnight and 2am It's been a hard day because it's been really hot and it gave me a headache Was able to drink a lot, so that's not too bad, but i do feel pretty weak I'm probably going to take a nap at some time to try and recover from this This is taking longer than I expected I had a bit of a heat stroke and some food was not really sitting right with me So towards the end of the day i was feeling really weak, sleepy, no energy I just had nothing left and i thought it was better just to call it a night, stop get some rest and get ready for the for the finish I went to bed early, grabbed six hours of sleep As you can see it is definitely a hike-a-bike Once it's over, I get to go down to Balykchy and finally end this ride Don't aim it at me Upwards, upwards! [French anthem playing] It's not working You guy's ready for the pictures Oh no! it's plasticky stuff I was hoping that was paper Perfect timing Bagoly Are you ready? Yeah, that's a nice collection It's a nice one Well done Sofiane! I got all the stamps And yeah winning it... no one's gonna take that away from me ever, you know. It's done. It was hard... I mean most people they show up at the Silk Road mountain race and their goal is to finish, you know. And most of them they can't do it. We're talking about a race where most of the people they don't finish... so yeah i showed up, I had some tough times there But I finished. I finished first. I got the W. It's for me now. No one's going to take it away

And yeah, it's a nice thing to have A win on one of the most prestigious bike packing race in the world

2022-07-21 03:49

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