“Shue, shue” – the Chinese word for water is the only thing we understand. The guy who just got out of his truck keeps on repeating these words and points down the road. After a while we understand. The road is washed away. The man tells us it’s impossible to pass by bike and then roars off again. We are left contemplating. Should we continue, should we turn back?
Everything started a day earlier when we had decided to take a shorter, but smaller road through the mountains which were the last barrier between us and the Taklamakan desert.
Upon arriving at the start of the planned shortcut we found it to be blocked by a huge pile of sand. The intention was clear. The pile would tell any reasonable person: This road is blocked, do not continue. But as we both have a weakness for wild places we just couldn’t resist…
For the next 250 km we got to experience a place so incredibly wild, beautiful and lonely as we had never seen it before. No cars, no shops, no asphalt. However the gravel road was in such a terrible condition that we were seriously worried about our bikes during the four days on this road.
Where it was possible we followed dirt paths next to the actual “road” to avoid the bumpy riding.
After one and a half days, and about two hours after our encounter with the man who had warned us about the washed away road, we got to a place were the road just vanished in the river. Would we need to ride back all those bumpy kilometres?
We were incredibly happy to find the river to be lower and less swift than we had been warned about. We first carried our bags and then pushed our bikes to the other shore. Several crossings followed. By the time we had passed the river for the last time it had almost become routine. Afterwards our bikes, feet and trainers were freshly cleaned – what a nice bonus.
The next challenge was a long, hard and steep ride to a 3800 meter high pass.
The sun was burning down on us and the sweat was flowing. We were looking forward to the downhill ride, but this was harder than expected. Snow, mud and rain had destroyed parts of the road and we had to carry the bikes around those parts.
Furthermore a big rock fall had covered the road completely, leaving us no other option than to climb over the still moving stones.
Finally on the last day we reached the end of the mountains and also the end of the street. It just vanished into an empty canyon. We had to push the bikes again, trying to find our own way. The temperature was rising and more and more sand was blocking our way. We could feel that the desert was not far ahead.
Suddenly the street reappeared and also some fancy dressed Chinese men. We were both equally surprised to meet anybody out here. They appeared to be civil engineers ordered to investigate the condition of the “street” in order to rebuild it. They were very keen on seeing the pictures we had taken as nobody had passed through this road in a decent time. In return for the information they offered us water, cookies and fruits. As we were running low on supplies, this made us really happy.
After four days in the mountains and upon reaching the main road again we kissed the road and celebrated the perfect concrete, which we had not seen for four days.