What a day!! One of the best offroad cycling days I’ve ever had!! If you like mountain biking, you can’t miss this one!!
The day started with a fast downhill (but not too fast neither), not too bumpy but technical enough. Overall, there are some 30 kms from the top until you reach the bottom of the valley, all of them fast and with almost no rest. There’re two small “villages” some 15 kms from the top (one of them should be called ex-village), but don’t expect to find anything like a shop there. Only in Aphilgb you will find that (at the bottom of the valley). Last 5 kms before this town, by the way, are amongst the nicest one from the scenary point of view.
The feeling I have from the pass from this side is that it’s harder this way in the beginning (especially due to the road being worse), and the last part is a little bit easier than on the other side. There’s less asfalt here (but that doesn’t mean there’s a lot on the other side!).
Anyway, somebody mentioned that this pass is the thoughest in the whole Pamir Highway, and I think he/she was right. Again, just an opinion.
The road then starts a neverending up-and-down part that is not that nice, even though being close to a big river is always a good point. Maybe the fact that was hot again made us see it like that. There’s a checkpoint close to Aphilgb, by the way, just like the one on the other side of the pass. Only after the strange town of Yazgand the road gets better. Yazgand, by the way, says you’re closer to Dushanbe in every building it has, on its stadium and with some other random things towns/cities around here normally don’t have. Still, you won’t find many restaurants or homestays here; we didn’t find any (open) at least. After this unappealing town, the road starts to take an African taste little by little (more sandy, lots of colours in the sand and mountains, the river…). There are some towns, really close to each other, as a reminding of some other times when his road was the main one between Dushanbe and Khorog. Only echoes now, since it’s even hard to find a shop…
The best part might be last 10 kms before leaving this valley and joining the road that comes from Kyrgyzstan. It’s pure mountain bike with saddlebags. Enjoy!!!
Our idea was to stop at the crossroad between this road coming from Kyrgyzstan and ours, but police at the checkpoint of the crossroad decided that was not a good idea and they forced us to keep going. That’s what we did. It was a weird ending to an otherwise great and long day!!