How many fresh cherries can you eat without making yourself sick? Tonight I might find out. When I stopped in the shade of a lovely tree this afternoon for my second lunch, my wandering eyes eventually noticed that the adjacent tree was full of delicious red fruit. I gorged myself then and there with too many to count, then filled up a bag for later, which I couldn’t help emptying just now. In addition to the cherries, I ate some dried apricots, dates, carrots, capsicums and oats. Notice there was no rice or pasta on that list? My stove is officially out of order. Stupidly, if I had have tried the stove at Pamir Lodge, I might have been able to get help from all the other cyclists staying there. But alas I am back on the road again, and now unable to cook anything. I have worked out what the problem is, which is one positive at least: there is a blockage in the final piece of metal tube that delivers the fuel to the jet. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to clear this blockage. I have emailed Trangia for help. This is the only thing that has gone wrong in what has been a nice day.

After saying bye to my guesthouse friends, I headed north out of Khorog and continued my journey alongside the Panj River. The riding was pleasant for most of the day, but got a bit hot in the middle. I stopped for lunch when I came across a French cyclist who was cooking noodles by the side of the road. He’d found a good spot to eat – a massive slab of stone forming a perfect bench seat in the shade of a large tree, right next to a tap with free-flowing water coming from underground or fed from a nearby stream – and I couldn’t resist joining him. Right on cue, the headwind struck up around 1.30pm, but luckily it didn’t slow me down too much. At a military checkpoint (located at the Bartang River bridge) where I had my visa details recorded, I rested from the heat for a little bit in the small building, sharing it with three soldiers and being treated to a fried bread treat.

I met two other groups of cyclists while riding (a trio and a big group of eight), and as I have been fiddling with my stove two separate pairs of cyclists have passed on the road above my camp. They never saw me (at least they never appeared to see me) and I never called out to get their attention. In hindsight I should have made myself known to them as maybe I could have borrowed a stove to make a hot dinner. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have my little camp spot to myself. I am on my own private patch of bright green lawn directly alongside a bend in the river. I am right next to the road, but almost completely hidden from it, my real estate being located down a short but steep embankment. As I set up camp a military helicopter patrolling the river (which forms the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan) paused over the top of me before continuing on its way downstream.

Hidden home

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 83.78km
Average cycling speed 15.1kph
Total distance ridden 20,427km