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Pain in the Pamir's

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Hot Springs, which allowed me to clean myself up!

The 4WD jeep came around the corner on my side of the road, leaving me with only a split second to make a decision – stay on the same line with the vehicle coming fast towards me, or switch inside. I chose the latter, but so did the jeep. I don’t remember the impact and to be honest I’m so glad for this, because I know from the damage to both the bike and myself it would have been pretty awful.

Next thing I knew I was waking up on a trolley in the hospital in Vrang, screaming in pain as a splint was being applied to my left leg. I couldn’t see out of my left eye and my ribs were crushed, making breathing very difficult and painful. The doctor told me they would be taking me to Khorog hospital as they had better facilities, but I just wanted something to numb the excruciating pain. The journey on the mountain road was long and sheer hell, every bump adding to my discomfort and for the first time I wished it had all been over for me.

Arriving at the hospital in Khorog, I was immediately taken into surgery so my forehead and eye could be fixed up. There’s no finesse in this and I know the scar it will leave will be pretty unsightly. Not that it matters. I begged for painkillers, but had to make do with the ibruprofen tablets given to me by Stefan – nowhere near sufficient to blunt the pain. This was my lowest point, many of you think I’m strong but this incident saw me falling apart.

I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. The biggest problem apart from my constant discomfort was the risk of infection – this hospital was a million miles from the cleanliness we take for granted in Europe. I was not allowed to have a bath or shower during my stay and I stunk, adding to my feeling of just not coping with all this. It was with huge relief I learned the drivers family would take me to their home in the Pamir’s and care for me, this included taking me daily to the hot springs – sheer bliss. The family really did look after me, despite the police trying (and to an extent succeeding) in taking money from them. I insisted I did not want any money from the family, their kindness was more than enough and had quite a battle with the police about this. The corruption is a part of Tajikistan I have witnessed first hand and it’s very widespread.

I was given a lift back to Khorog with the hope of a lift then onto Murgab, but this never happened and I’m now even further away from Murgab, Osh and Bishkek. I’m really not good, as apart from the constant pain I have also developed a bout of sickness and diarrhoea which saw me violently ill last night. I’ve met another cycle traveller in the Pamir Lodge and we will see if it’s possible to arrange onward transport.

I need help

I have never publicly asked for help before, but if I’m to continue then I desperately need it. The biggest headache is where to get the new kit sent to in Bishkek, without having it taken apart by customs and charged ridiculous amounts. I’m wondering if it might be worth contacting the British Embassy in Bishkek for help?
I have put a “donate” button on my blog in the right hand sidebar (and also below), but if anyone would like to offer specific help then please get in touch with me.

Here is the list of kit which needs replacing:

Full set of front and rear Ortlieb Roller Plus Panniers
Front Ortlieb Bar Bag
Ortlieb Rack Pack 49L

Front Disc Specific Rim (to build up using my Supernova Infinity 8 Hub – I’ll get this done in Bishkek)
Spokes for above (please can someone check the size for me?)

Surly Disc Trucker Front Forks      –       Edit – The bike is a total write off
Headset for above
Mudguard for above

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Tyre (might as well get a pair)

So that’s about all for this quick update. I have pictures and a nice story for my next one, but need good internet access to upload – this a an old PC in the youth center I’m using right now.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:56 am

Ouch. Are you in a fit state to bike if you get this kit?
Both the rib, leg and hand injury sounds a bit detrimental to biking.

Second problem would be how to get the stuff there. I imagine a courier company
if the British embassy is unable to help.

Thirdly we need someone as coordinator, I’d say in the UK was preferable.
And then either send donations of money (PayPal etc.) or preagreed equipment to this person.
Just so you don’t end up with 3 sets of bikebags and we keep it in one package.
Prices are also cheaper in the UK compared to Taxalottia, where I live. (Denmark)

I’d be happy to donate cash or perhaps a set of Ortlieb bags if they are still available.
(Unused set for sale on local Ebay-pendant. Consists of 2 bikepacker plus, 2 sportpacker plus
and one ultimate4 plus. Wants 1700 DKK for them or around 192 GBP. Unless they can be bought
cheaper in the UK.) But let me know if they suit your needs, Derek.

All the best

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Hi Mikael,

    Thanks for this. I agree it might be better to let one bike shop source the kit required and I thought maybe about using the one I bought my bike from, as they would know exactly what was needed with the forks, wheel and spokes – having built up the original.

    I do have another friend, Ed, who is also approaching bike shops for me.

    I don’t have a problem with second hand bags, but that does appear costly to me, lets see what they can come up with. As for cycling, I think this lot will take a while so I will hopefully be a lot fitter than at present.

    I’ll make my way to Bishkek where I’ll have 60 days before having to worry about a visa and onward travel.

    Any help will be much appreciated, let’s see how we go…

      Marjorie Gaestel
      Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Derek, post Pay Pal info when u can. M. Gaestel

        Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

        Marjorie, this has now been done. It’s not what I wanted, but if I’m to continue then I need help, more-so now I’ve learned the bike is a total write-off. I’ll explain more in my next blog post.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 9:29 am

These are new unused bags. I guess he bought the wrong ones. Pic here:

Tim Cullis
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

Derek, just to check, you’re heading for Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan?

Mikael’s suggestion about a central coordinator makes sense, your comment about using the shop you bought the bike from also makes sense.

There’s a lot of new Ortlieb stuff on eBay UK, though I’m not sure which is the stuff you want.

There’s several Surly dealers in London.

I could do some coordination and would gladly visit the cycle shops but we would have to move quickly as I’m heading off for Spain on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Some advice on Horizons Unlimited

Memo (Italian biker who lives in Bishkek) sounds a useful contact, see

Getting stuff through customs could be challenging. What about the idea of returning to the UK to sort this stuff out? I had a quick look on and a return flight Bishkek-London with Pegasus Airlines was £335.

Tim Cullis
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

What’s your timeframe? How quickly do potential helpers have to act?

You’re obviously not well enough to continue right now, however you’ve got 60 days in Kyrgyzstan without visa so you’ll have probably until the middle of January before you have to worry about such formalities.

But I’ve been looking at the weather predictions and December through to February are dire with many roads impassible due to snow. Even March the average daily high temperature is only 7ºC and lower at altitude. Certainly not camping weather!

    Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Hi All, Tim,

    Timeframe is not desperate as I will be a while before I’m well enough to cycle properly. Patrick has suggested I get to Kathmandu to recover and this seems a good idea, though I still think getting the stuff out to Bishkek is the best option because of the 60 days visa free and then trying to get to Kathmandu with a fixed up bike. It was always my intention to go there anyway.

    My current funds (if I get sufficient help with the kit needed) will only allow for one cheap flight, so I’ll have to choose wisely.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Hi Derek,
I am so sorry to hear about your accident, I hope you reach Bishkek soon and have a chance to really recuperate. From the list you have put up it must have been some impact. I have no money to send my friend, but my thoughts are with you, and I send you a big, although with your ribs in mind , also a gentle hug. Take care. Gillian x

Tim Cullis
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I don’t think my previous message got through, apologies if this is a double post…

Some advice on Horizons Unlimited

Memo (Italian biker who lives in Bishkek) sounds a useful contact, see

Getting stuff through customs could be challenging. What about the idea of returning to the UK to sort this stuff out? I had a quick look on and a return flight Bishkek-London with Pegasus Airlines was £335.

Patrick Hugens
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Have you considered flying to a place like Kathmandu to recover? It seems to me the window of riding as far north as you are is closing quick, while the window on the subcontinent is opening. Also, if I had to pick a city to spent an extended amount of time it would be Kathmandu: cheap accommodation, good food, lots of things to see and do. Additionally I think it would be easier to ship the parts you need. India will be to your south and with Burma opening up you might be able to cross into Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and so on. We wish you tailwinds!
Patrick and Rachel Hugens

Tim Cullis
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I think my two previous posts have been blocked because of URLs, so replace the dashes with dots to read the links I’m referring to…

Some advice on Horizons Unlimited

Memo (Italian biker who lives in Bishkek) sounds a useful contact, see

Getting stuff through customs could be challenging. What about the idea of returning to the UK to sort this stuff out? I had a quick look on and a return flight Bishkek-London with Pegasus Airlines was £335.

Tim Cullis
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Nothing is easy (sigh). Just realised there’s now dashes everywhere. Just replace the first two with dots.

Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7:37 am

Tim – your messages appear here for me so should be ok.

.Derk – you want somewhere warm and cheap to recover .. I’d suggest India – Goa (lots of medical, curries), Vietnam (cheap beer) .. Cambodia (food is not so good) etc .. and cycle back if you want. Kat won’t be warm .. and that is what you want for recovery.

Once you decide on the where you can make choices on the repair .. might be cheaper to get the new gear to the new place rather than where you are?

I’d not worry too much about the visa .. take your medical things off to the authorities and ask for an extension say 20 days or so if/before you need it.

Good luck – I’ll keep an eye on your page.

Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Hi Derek
My name is Ian Wray, I am the publicity man for the Leeds Photographic Society. I don’t think I know you, I think you left just before I joined. Would you like me to try and get you some publicity in the Yorkshire Evening Post? This may help with fundraising etc.

Also I tend to agree with your friends re getting to Kathmandu etc. you need a definite plan with regard to things getting to you.

Best wishes

    Monday, November 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Ian, didn’t I meet you at the Yorkshire Photography Awards? I remember I was no longer a member but went up just to see my old friends. Anyway whatever you can do to help is OK with me, but if papers are involved I really would like to help raise the profile of MIND.

      Ian Wray
      Monday, November 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Derek
      Now you mention it, yes we did meet. Sorry, I did not put the two things together. I will gladly push the ‘Mind’ aspect of your ride, but I think it would be best to wait until you are ‘rolling’ again. In the meantime I have circulated a link to your blog to the LPS membership.
      I hope you are managing to get some R & R and very best wishes from all at the LPS.
      Bye for now.

jean Glynn
Friday, November 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Derek sorry to hear about your accident. hope this finds you feeling better.
post Pay Pal info when u can. don’t know how to do it but will find a way. love….Jean xxxxx

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