Irkutsk, 10th October
Bike tour is over! I’ve arrived in Irkutsk after quite a tough ride from Murun. I had a great time enjoying another week-long mountainbiking adventure through Mongolia, riding dirt tracks along some beautiful valleys, through forests and across the steppe. For the first time in Mongolia there were lots of rivers, but that didn’t mean there were lots of bridges! So I got wet a lot, fortunately without ever giving my bike a serious soaking.
After an autumn (or at least what I call autumn) which lasted about two weeks, winter arrived at about the same time as I arrived at the Russian border. Fortunately the roads in Russia are much better than in Mongolia! The colder temperatures, though, meant that I didn’t camp or go exploring as much as I would have liked to whilst cycling along the Trans-Siberian Highway around the southern tip of Lake Baikal to Irkutsk. It was really beautiful, though, and at times simply fabulous cycling. Not a bad way for bike tour to end!
I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about bike tour coming to an end, but, frankly, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. So here’s a list of some of the things I’m going to miss, and not miss, about bike tour. You’ll notice that a few things appear on both lists in different guises!
Things I’m not going to miss:
- Going days (and sometimes weeks) at a time without having a fluent conversation.
- Worrying constantly about whether I have enough water, where I can get more water, and whether it will be clean.
- Being permanently hungry.
- Looking for somewhere to sleep whilst tired, hungry, wet, cold…..
- Being watched all the time by curious locals.
- Bureaucracy, border crossings and policemen.
Things I’m going to miss:
- The unsolicited, and all too often unrequited, kindness and generosity that I’ve experienced throughout my journey, often from complete strangers.
- Doing what I want, all day, every day.
- Homemade dairy produce.
- Being ridiculously fit.
- Being able to eat whatever I like and not care about it in the slightest (though I do wonder what my dentist is going to say).
- Camping in all manner of beautiful places.
- The sunset.
There are an awful lot of people who have contributed to making this trip a success. I’m not going to start naming names, because many of them don’t read this blog, and because I would almost certainly forget to mention several people if I did. But I want to say a big thankyou to everybody who has helped me, with accomodation, advice, equipment, company, and encouragement. It wouldn’t have happened without you!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! It’s been a fabulous, memorable adventure and I’ve really enjoyed sharing it. Thankyou for reading – it’s been one hell of a ride.