Translations available

SARY-MOGOL : alone by mountain bike in the Kyrgyzstan mountains

This is my story about discovering one of the highest countries in the world on a mountain bike. On a whim, I decided to visit Kyrgyzstan. After 35 hours of travel, without knowing the country and the language, I found myself in the middle of nowhere, among the giant mountains of Pamir and Tien-Shan.

The geopolitical linchpin of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is one of the world’s few remaining countries where it is still possible to adventure into the unknown, well off the beaten tracks of mass tourism. The mountainous profile and a lack of tourist itineraries should enable the country to retain its “undiscovered” image for some time to come, offering the intrepid traveler a unique human, physical and geographical experience.

I have on my smartphone’s memory amassed a heap of notes on many different countries, including several Central Asian countries, but absolutely nothing on Kyrgyzstan. Once I’d checked that the country’s COVID restrictions would not prevent me from traveling there, I booked my plane tickets in a massive rush of blood to the head. I fly in less than three weeks. I soon get the impression that I have been a little hasty as I know zilch about the country, and I even have no idea which areas of the country are suitable to ride. I got in touch with a guy, Fred Horny, he knows the area well, and with his legendary enthusiasm, he gave me the name of a French guy called Stéphane, who runs a local tourist agency I contacted him immediately; this guy is passionate about the country and knows it like the back of his hand, and he opened his Kyrgyz address book for me! What a stroke of luck. As my time is limited, I cannot afford to waste precious time traveling between areas to ride. There’s absolutely no information on MTB cycling, so taking a stab, I decided to start my ride from a valley that stands out from the vibrant red aerial photos.

Three flights into my journey, I arrive in Osh. My driver, Abdoukadyr, is waiting for me, and we seem to hit it off immediately. He whisks me off to a small eatery where we have a bite. His suggestion that we pick up a spare wheel for the car before heading off gives me insight into the state of the roads to come. We drive for 4 hours into the vast Alay Mountain range, where many mountains top out at over 16,400 feet. This is where my ride begins, to the north of the Alay mountains. My objective is to ride south across the whole range and finish in the Pamir.

Get free access to
all stories.

Enter your email address,
and get an instant sign-in link.

Already have an account? Sign in

Essential cookies only.

We only use cookies that are necessary for signing in and hiding this notification. Nothing more. We do not track you using cookies.