Garry McGivern’s cycling around the world, Wednesday 22nd-August-2012, Aktua to Shetpe. 80 miles. It’s been a long hard day, and one thing I’ve learnt on my first day of cycling in Kazakhstan is to stick to the main road! I’d already decided after looking at the map of Kazakhstan for the past few days that I was going to take a secondary road that I’d found as it was a more direct route for me.
I left the hotel and managed to find this B road, which was pretty surprising, really. There weren’t any road signs, and what signs there were, were in Russian. I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the roads. Everything that I’d read said the roads in Kazakhstan were atrocious, but this road was okay. And just to confirm I was on the right road, I crossed a railway line, which I had on my map.
As I crossed the railway, there was a sign warning of a bumpy road for five kilometres. Bumpy? The road just disappeared and turned into a track. And not just a dirt track. It was more like trying to cycle on a sandy beach. In fact, I spent more time pushing my bike than riding. I even fell off at one point when my front wheel dug into the deep sand. I was really starting to regret taking this shortcut.
What A Relief
Eventually, I made it to the main road after five hours and thirty miles of pushing and cycling. Which wasn’t much better, but at least there was some asphalt, and there wasn’t any deep sand. I’ve seen plenty of horses and camels roaming the countryside, when I’ve not had to watch out for potholes. Maybe all I’d read about the roads was true after all.
Staying in a guesthouse tonight, although I don’t think the landlady was too happy with me. She shouted at me and told me to dust off my panniers before bringing them in. It wasn’t like the place was the Ritz! I had supper in a café across the road from the guesthouse. Don’t ask me what I had, maybe horse meat. Apparently, that’s very popular here. However, I do know that beer was only 75 pence a pint! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
Don’t forget the main reason behind my ride. I want to raise as much money for cancer research charities as possible. After my wife, Josie, died of breast cancer in 2007, aged only 42. Even the smallest donation helps. You can donate to Cancer Research UK or the Australian National Breast Cancer Foundation. Click on either one to donate. Every little bit helps to rid the world of this cruel disease.
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