Cycling around the world, step by step. Start every new trip at the end point of the previous one. Cologne – Istanbul, Istanbul – Tehran. Actually, the Iranian capital would have been the starting point for this third big tour. But this time Bombtrack team rider and enthusiastic Supernova Lights user Marc Maurer has decided for a different location and set off on the route of his dreams to Central Asia with his bike and outdoor equipment.
Bikepacking through Central Asia
Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan and political, cultural and economic centre of the country. The city is situated at an altitude of 800 m south of the Hissar Mountains, which rise up to 4643 m above sea level. A good starting point for a tour like the ones Marc loves. Because the classic backpacking has become too boring lately. Bikepacking is more adventurous, especially if you are travelling alone. The owner of a bicycle shop in Cologne has always been a passionate traveller. The corner of the world has long been on Marc’s travel list. And fear of the unknown keeps the native South German within healthy limits.
“In the beginning, when I travelled along the Afghan border for days, all the military checkpoints were always exciting. In the beginning I was always nervous, without any reason, the soldiers were all totally nice and interested…”
Over the Tian Shan high mountain range, which rises up to 7439 metres in altitude, along the Afghan border and further along the foothills of China to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, which is already in the immediate vicinity of neighbouring Kazakhstan in northern Kyrgyzstan. Among other things, Marc’s route lead along the Pamir Highway, which is well known to travellers. Since the 19th century, this mountain pass has guided its climbers through the alpine landscape of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on steep gravel roads and was only partially maintained during the Soviet regime. In terms of landscape, deep mountain gorges with snow-laden mountain ranges alternate with infinite expanses offering merciless space to the weather to live out its diverse moods.
When you meet other people, whether locals or travellers, you stop and talk. Not only stories are exchanged, but also valuable tips about the nearest water source or for food supplies. And every encounter is different, unique in its own way.
“Not far from the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan two shepherds on horses came to me, with Kalashnikovs on their backs. Of course I was a bit intimidated at first because of the machine guns, but the two were totally nice and me, being a non-smoker, I had to smoke a cigarette with them. Of course hands were shaken to say goodbye. I noticed that one of them had two complete thumbs on his right hand. I tried to speak to him about it, but he couldn’t speak English, I couldn’t speak Kyrgyz. Later it turned out that due to an accident with the chemical cyanide, the salt of prussic acid, the groundwater in the gold mine was contaminated and the people suffered from malformations…”
He had been warned that parts of the route could be very crowded in summer. But apart from a few other travellers, various herds of animals, a rolling hotel with crazy Germans and from time to time children and shepherds along the way, his impressions are dominated by soothing solitude, extreme physical exertion and the predominant nature.
Marc Maurer about Supernova Lights
Marc is therefore especially grateful for his equipment. Not only his Bombtrack bike and his outdoor clothes as well as his bike bags supported him in his project. His Supernova front lights were also a faithful companionship in the mountains.
“I was on the road with the E3 Triple 2 and the E3 Tail Light 2. The front light is not allowed on German roads, but fortunately cares about it on Tajik and Kyrgyz roads… I was and am super happy with this lamp setup. Especially off-road the headlight served me well and I was and still am totally enthusiastic about the power of these front lights. Apart from that I use the E3 Pure 3 front light and I like the illumination, the size and brightness. These are the first experiences with Supernova products and I am totally thrilled! I hope they’re not the last experiences I’ll have with Supernova Lights ;-)”
A journey beyond II: Relive the Bikepacking yourself
3,500 km far and over a total of 50,000 meters of altitude led him his journey, Marc estimates. The difference to previous Bikepacking tours: the long time in the high mountains, always being at a constant altitude between 2,500 and 4,500 m. Cycling, where breathing is difficult. Not everyone’s cup of tea. But Marc hasn’t regretted it.
You can relive Marc’s experiences impressively in the short documentary A JOURNEY BEYOND II, already the second production about Marc by Bombtrack Bicycles, a Cologne-based company. The intoxicating shots cast a spell over you and alternate entertainingly with the relentless coverage of a cyclist’s digestive problems, which Marc shares just as unfiltered as the daily highs and lows of his emotional travel experience. Attention: Be warned that instant travel fever can break out!
“I just want to ride my bike, see the world and have fun” Marc Maurer
Text: Myriel Hauser Ι Quotations: Marc Maurer Ι Pictures: Timo Seidel