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R&R in Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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Dealing with failure

Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is admit you failed. Well I failed.

It had always been my dream to cycle to Everest base camp, taking in the Pamir Highway along the way. The thing about having dreams is they should challenge you, least that is my take on them and when they don’t work out, you have to step back and look at what went wrong. From the very beginning my plans went awry. Maybe in my naivety I was asking too much, but the first major problem was having my passport stolen in Africa. This put me behind schedule, but I still felt I could get there before the trails closed (to cycles) due to winter snow.

The High Pass as we came over it a few days ago.

Riding the Pamir Highway I would almost certainly have been the last cyclist crossing the high passes. Helen LLoyd was the last one to come the opposite direction and already it was starting to close in. I would have made it, had it not been for the unfortunate incident with the 4×4 and I’m struggling to come to terms with my failure, even though it was not my fault.

The snow will soon close the Pamir Highway to all.

I have been thinking long and hard about what and where I should do/go next. I think I’ve missed the boat with Nepal, as it would now be impossible to ride the trails and while I could always settle for trekking, this is not what I wanted.

I am also not sure about my health. I know the accident has damaged my right ribs and this area is very painful, but am I struggling because of this or is my condition worsening? Because I can’t answer this question (and won’t be able to until the pain subsides) I feel waiting around is not beneficial. Getting into and the out of Nepal will take two flights whichever way I go and would mean me waiting around in India until conditions are right. I’d see this as wasted time, because there is so much more I want to do before ill health stops me.

So I’m thinking get the Visa for China in Bishkek, Visit Beijing and a few other places then make my way to Laos, visit South East Asia, then because of the kind donations I think it might just be possible to fly to Canada or America. I would so much love to end my tour here if things didn’t work out, but that would be a long way off and there is much cycling to do to even get there!

Luke, who will be instrumental in getting me back on the road.

Back to the present and I met another Pamir Highway hopeful in Khorog, Luke, who quickly realised he was too late to take it on.  We shared transport to Osh and will be sharing time together in Bishkek as he helps me build up a new bike so that I can continue my travels. More on this in the next blog. I also met up with a crazy (but very nice) German cyclist called Heino, who was keen to show me how he wanted everybody to know he was riding for world peace and a few other noble causes – quite a character!

Heino, keen to show us his flag!

Which just goes to show this journey is not just about me as I’ve met some truly amazing people along the way. The hospitality in Central Asia is legendary and I have experienced this myself first hand. Here’s a few images of some of the people who have changed my blinkered view of this whole continent forever:

The Pamir family that looked after me.

The driver of the 4×4 is sat next to me in the photo above, and in the photo below is the kind patriarch that never left my hospital room during my initial convalescence.

My own personal carer, Henner.

I love children and had no end of fun playing games with them, despite my injuries. These included horse riding (I was of course the horse!), peek a boo, hide and seek and many more.

The children who made my stay very memorable

Food is never far away when you are invited to join a local family and this can mean you spend all day eating, as it’s considered rude to refuse. The fellow in the army uniform was in fact the English teacher at the local school – his English was pretty good!

Another Pamir family who asked me in.

And that’s it for this update. You’re probably all wondering how I’m doing recovering from the accident, well the leg is slowly returning to normal and my wrist though painful is usable. The big problem is the headaches and chest pain, the latter making breathing difficult. I will look at finding a decent hospital in Bishkek as the headaches really are very fierce and constant – my head is still numb on the left side and so I need to get it checked out.

I travel with Luke to Bishkek in the morning where we hope to sort out a bike for me, thanks to some very kind help. I’ll tell you all about this and how the fundraising is going in my next blog. Stay tuned…

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Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Derek, you have not failed and in my eyes you will never fail! You are an inspiration to us all, so snap out of that idea straight away and keep your chin up! One only has to look at your other blog entries to see what you have achieved already and what type of determined person you are. Keep going and stay strong! All the best. Clive

Patrick Hugens
Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Derek, I have never done a bike trip where I was able to stick exactly to my original plans. To me a successful biketrip is where you make the best of every moment you have. I change my plans because of recommendations I get while on the road, weather, roads, whatever. Stolen passports, accidents and so on are very good reasons to change plans. Actually, I think many travelers would have gone home to lick their wounds after what you went through. You seem a very strong person mentally to just keep going solo like you have. You’re an inspiration and I thank you for spending the time to write these blogs so we can travel with you. Tailwinds to you.

Ian Wray
Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm

My thoughts echo those of Clive and Patrick. What you are doing is truly inspirational!
What you have done can never be thought of as a failure.
Take it steady and good luck!

Patrick Hugens
Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Derek, please update us on the latest method to get a Chineese visa in Bishkek. The last I read the best way is to go through mrs. Liu at some travel agency…..? Our plans for 2015 is to follow your route through the stans, then head for Kashgar, Urumqi and into Mongolia but I’m not sure whether this is possible visa-wise.
Also, I think you communicated with “Grum” before. He is starting a prostate cancer awareness ride next year and plans to organize a trip through Tibet (again, he’s done it before).

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Derek you have not failed, you are having a different experience to that you had planned. That is what travelling throws at you and I know you know that you have achieved so much and inspired so many people. I for one am now planning to spend January cycling in Myanmar.
Below is a link to the blog of some other warmshowers friends of mine who had a similar experience in Tajikistan and decided to change their plan before the worst happens. Stay strong and look at this as and experience not a setback.
XX Mandy

Friday, November 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Derek, ~ I can only stipulate what others have already said: don’t consider this a failure – to the contrary ! Congratulations on all your setbacks and misfortunes and (too big) challenges: you are actually living the life beyond the comfort zone we are all just dreaming about ……………….

Janyis Watson
Monday, November 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm
Hi Derek. Hope our donation reached you. I’ve posted the above on our blog and Facebook and friends are sharing and hopefully helping you out. Hope you’re mending well. Lots of love and warm wishes, Janyis and Chris

    Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    With help from friends and strangers alike, I will get back on the road. It is heartwarming that you take the time out of your own travels and I can’t thank you enough, your words have lifted me at a time when I needed it. Thank you again.

    I’ll post a blog update with how I’m doing replacing the kit shortly…

Chad Albrecht
Monday, November 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Derek, you are not a failure. Your life inspires me and helps me to examine what I am doing with the precious time that I have left on this earth. May God bless you and help guide you on your journey.

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