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Current Location : Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China
Last entry date : 07 June 2008

Difficult terrain on way to Valentin’s Altin Arachan base camp


When Valentin, the co-host of Yak Tours told me the dirt road to their mountain chalets at Altin-Arachan is accessible and its not a problem to take my bike there, I was delighted. I wanted to take 2 days off and see the Kyrgyz mountains. He said he does it weekly on his 4-wheel Quad. In fact he said it’ll be easy. I was finally going to do some offroad, this time without baggages & spares tyres.

Of course what I did not know was that the 62 yrs old Valentin was a mountain man, a Kyrgyz mountain man. And a local motocross trainer. When he said its easy, he was referring it for a horse. We started in the early afternoon on the 20km track ride up into the mountains. When I started on the first 100 metres, I realised it was more than I asked for. The tracks heaved and turned, there were rocks, sand, mud and waterpools along the way. It had also rained the night before. Valentin galloped with his cook on the Quad and I followed behind. He knew exactly which trajectory to take to dodge the rocks and which side of the track he should be on to cut across thick mud and waterpools.

Halfway on, the climbing got serious. The bike’s engine starts to heat up and there were times I did not know if I could get across the series of rocks, waterpools or get stuck in the mud !! The base engine guard of the bike was hitting the rocks during the bumps. A logging company had their cut trees across the track and at this point we both had to skid across the mud to the other side. The Quad took it easier as it had 4 wheels. Still, I followed but with a big headache. Now this is the bike I am using to get to Malaysia. I’m thinking its not good if a little adventure here in the Kyrgyz mountain do some harm to the bike. I can’t imagine what to say on this site – that I got lost ??

At the 18km mark, the ride got so rough it broke the rotor casing of Valentin’s Quad. No problem, said Valentin, he and his cook will just walk up the rest of the track. The most difficult was still to come – the last 200 metres of steep climb around the left trajectory, he said. I rode ahead while they walked. When I saw that last 200 metres, I said ok I need a real horse. So I turned back and told Valentin that the last 200 metres are very bad and I like to first make that other 10000km to Malaysia. Besides if it rained again, I may not be able to get down or back in time for my China border crossing rdv. He simply shrugged his head and said that I’m going to miss the great Shashlick kebab his cook had prepared. Great man Valentin, when I get another chance, I’m going to take up his challenge (maybe just hiked up there or better, with a mountain bike). Down the mountain I went doing the reverse of what I had just done. It really wasn’t easier. BUT, but, I was very very pleased I got back to Karakol without damage to myself or the bike. Those rough riding mountain biking days with Eric B and the ASCVTT club in France must have helped a bit.

11 Responses to « Kyrgyzstan (part 2) – Some serious biking out in Altin Arachan  »

  1. quand tu nous disais que la route n’était pas bonne on était loin d’imaginer à quel point!!!quelle experience! love, Lydia

  2. Hi Sheen,
    Just came back to Malaysia. A few days ago, I went to Yosemite Park, where I saw almost the same type of scenery that you just came across. That’s because there are beautiful mountains, a river and an amazing waterfall. On top of that, there is some snow. We camped there for a couple of days. I had to stay in a hotel because I was sick but I was still able to do a bit of hiking. It was also a memorable experience for me. I saw some bikers around,
    Keep it up


  3. David Atkinson9 June 2008 à 7:16 am

    Now then Sheen, leave the offroading to the professionals, you still have a long way to go. Glad the bike is holding up well, and more glad to read that you are holding up well. Wish I was with you Sheen, although not on my bike, just a bit too heavy for rough roads.
    Stay safe Sheen and take care.
    Dave Atkinson

  4. Siew Hoon & Victoria9 June 2008 à 12:42 pm

    Glad that you & the bike are O.K. Beautiful photos, so much green.Take care.

  5. te voila fort en moto cross maintenant

    tes photos sont tres belles tu pourras te recycler reporter a ton retour

    gros bisous et prends soin de toi

  6. te voila au pakistan depuis aujourd’hui. Tu vas encore faire le plein de beaux paysages!! Roule bien et prends soin de toi! On pense à toi. Love, Lydia

  7. annie jeanmichel erwan gwen10 June 2008 à 5:11 pm

    hello sheen
    it s marvelous but quiet dangerous
    i think that your are ready to make a tour with jean michel in vtt tandem
    take care
    it s my first time i write in english and i am not sure you can understand…

  8. Be safe my little dada

  9. As I was saying, I saw some bikers going around the hills. Some of them used bycicles and others motorbikes and they reminded me of you. I just thought it wouldn’t be easy for them to ride their bikes but I also thought it must be really nice and fun.



  10. courage papa tu y es presque ! 😉 🙂

  11. The AS Cagnes VTT club supports you 🙂
    We’ve got another globe trotter now in the club, you’ll can share about your experiences when you’ll be back

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