After a week in Almaty and a bicycle that finally seemed for for the job, Arron and I set off from Almaty with a plan. It might not have been the dream of cycling through Kazakhstan, but it would get us out of the city and on our bikes again. We decided to go on a five day cycle tour from Almaty, up to Kapchagay Reservoir and back in a loop.
It felt incredible to be back on the bikes that first day. Cycling out of Almaty with no snow to slow us down and huge smiles on our faces, we both felt invigorated. Nothing could beat being back on our bikes. Even the hacking cough I had developed overnight couldn’t dampen our spirits. In fact, I think Arron probably appreciated my inability to speak and enjoyed the quiet!!!
We camped that first night by a small trickle of water amongst some hillocks. Having followed a random dirt track a few kilometers from the main road meant we had the place to ourselves. Having enjoyed our day so much, we decided to take a 60km detour up to the town of Kapchagay and extend our tour by a few days.
The following morning we woke up to get skies and by the time we had finished breakfast it was snowing heavily. Undeterred, we packed up or stuff and set off on our new route.
We made it to the edge of Kapchagay by lunchtime… And we were starving! There hadn’t been a single so on route and when we saw a truckers cafe we rushed to get inside. The food was good and the instant coffee soothed my throat. I was still unable to speak and my cough seemed to be worsening.
After lunch we cycled out to a peninsular, a few miles out of town and where the photo above was taken. I was suffering so headed straight to bed while Arron prepared our evening meal.
That night I developed a fever on top of my cough. Knowing this was to be our last town until we returned to Almaty in a further for days, we reassessed my condition and agreed to spend an extra night in Kapchagay, but inside a hotel instead of the tent in the hope that by the following day I would’ve recovered and we could resume our mini cycle tour once more.
Of course, this would be the morning that my tyre was flat! Repairing a punctured inner tube in the sand and snow with a fever might not have helped my recovery and despite spending the entire rest of the day in bed sweating it out, I woke up again the following day with no improvement.
At that point I decided I would head back to Almaty. Arron and I cycled the first day together and camped close to our first night’s campsite. That night was the worst night I have ever spent in a tent. I woke up in the night in a puddle of sweat, quite literally. My sleeping bag was dripping with water and the roll mat beneath me had a big pool of water where I had been lying. It was disgusting, and I felt disgusting. Thankfully my synthetic sleeping bag kept me warm and I got a little more sleep before dawn broke.
After packing up camp the next morning, Arron and I parted ways. I took the road toward Almaty and he took the same road in the opposite direction. I was still sweating, despite feeling cold and shivery with a high fever. I’m not quite sure how I managed that 50 km back to Almaty but I have never been so grateful to get inside!
Arron continued our planned route and came back a few days later in good spirits and I was able to rest.
Although I am definitely getting better, I am still suffering with a cough two weeks later and am desperate to be well again. It has been frustrating for both Arron and I and has definitely tested our limits of friendship. Having said that, I am incredibly grateful for his patience thus far.
We are now in Moscow despite some shenanigans getting our bicycles on the train. Tonight we board another train to Saint Petersburg and all being well we should be setting off on Thursday to attempt our new adventure; cycling from Saint Petersburg to the UK.