CHRIS & GABS JULY NEWSLETTER

 

 

Author: Chris & Gabs – August 08, 2019

Cycling for… 405 days

Pedalling over… 9556km

Through… 18 countries

Currently… in Azerbaijan!

Raising so far… £7,195.20


CLICK HERE to see recent Chris & Gabs videos


 

This month we’ve visited… Azerbaijan!

We have finally left Georgia and are now in our 18th Country – Azerbaijan. We have a 30 day visa so need to get to the ferry port at Alat in good time. There is no timetable for the ferry because its departure depends on the weather and the amount of cargo loaded. The boat leaves when it’s full.

 

In theory, this means every 3 to 5 days, but in reality, there might be 5 boats going to Kazakhstan within 1 week or only 1 boat in 2 weeks. We have heard that you can be camped at the port from anything from 3 to 12 days. We must leave enough time so that we don’t overstay our Visa…

 

We celebrated our 1 year anniversary of when we set off on our World Cycling Tour from The Nightingale Centre on July 9th 2018.

 

Follow this link to watch our documentary “One Year On The Road”: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/07/09/new-film-one-year-on-the-road/

 

The most beautiful area has been…

 

We haven’t really seen anything beautiful since leaving Georgia. The scenery now has started to become more desert looking and villages are few and far between. No more of the lush green trees and picturesque waterfalls that we enjoyed in Georgia.

 

 

The most challenging and bizarre experience has been…

As we entered Azerbaijan things turned for the worse at the border. Chris was in severe pain and sweating profusely and then things got rapidly worse during the day. After cycling through temperatures in excess of 40 degrees we finally made it to a hospital in a small town. I (Gabs) had to wait outside anxiously with the bikes.

Chris explained, “I was instantly rushed into a private room and they ran a series of tests. An ultrasound followed by a VERY large injection of something into my right bum cheek! I was soon surrounded by 12 doctors, nurses and consultants, not a single word of English was spoken. It was like a very amusing game of charades. They got there in the end and along came the results – a Kidney Infection which explained the excruciating pain!

The doctor prescribed some strong tablets, no idea what they were, and we were told to go to the pharmacy the other side of town. We cycled to the pharmacy, whilst struggling to sit on my saddle after the huge syringe in my bum cheek, only to find out that they didn’t have any in stock!

 

We went on to the second pharmacy (20 miles further) and again… none in stock!! Then onto the third (which was another 15 miles away) and again… none in stock!!!

 

Gab’s was getting really concerned as I was getting worse and we had to keep stopping every few miles for me to lie down. By this time, whatever the injection was, it had kicked in and i had no energy and felt very tired. We managed to make it another 15 miles to the 4th pharmacy just before passing out… and guess what… none in stock. That was it, I was done in so led at the side of the road and Gabs cycled ahead determined to get this medication. She went to another 3 places before finding some!!

 

Finally, I was fully loaded on some sort of medication, and all I needed to do was cycle a few more miles to find somewhere to camp for the night and rest for a couple of days.”

What amazing service by the hospital here in Azerbaijan. We do have medical insurance, but Chris never needed to use it. We don’t even know the name of the place, where we were or anything. Chris felt great when he came out of the hospital (as you can see from the photo) but that all changed within the hour. Another not so pleasant experience of bicycle touring, Chris said “That has got to be one of the worst days of my life”. Thankfully he is getting much better now.

   

A special highlight this month has been… 

The highlight this month has been a couple of things. Mainly a big thank you to Snodland Council for doing a brilliant job at their Summer Carnival and raising money and awareness for Prevent Breast Cancer. They will also be raising money at their Christmas Fair later this year!

Also a BIG thanks to Hannah Murray at Talk Radio Europe for having us live on her breakfast show. We really enjoyed talking about our first year on the road. Listen here.

 

Next, we are heading to …

Before I (Gabs) started this expedition, I would have had serious trouble, saying, spelling or even placing Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on a map – let alone planning a cycling route through it!

 

I remember right at the beginning, when we decided to cycle the world, having a conversation with Will (aka Super Cycling Man). He asked me if we were going across the “Stans”, I responded, “Who is Stan?”

 

This is where our tour gets really exciting – adventuring into the unknown. The distances are huge and we have limited time to make it through vast desert, scorching heat and bitter cold. The elevations in the mountains will be particularly terrifying for me (Gabs) as I don’t like heights.

 

There are also numerous highlights: the landscapes, the people you meet, and of course the satisfaction of making it across Central Asia’s landmass with our own pedal power.

 

We can’t wait for Tajikistan to cycle the “Roof of the World” called the Pamir Highway. It is the second highest highway in the world. As a touring cyclist this is a once in a life time experience and something we would regret if we didn’t try and concur.

 

The road ranges from high desert to snowy mountains and we will be crossing passes of more than 4,000m. It is likely to be inhabited by more snow leopards and spiral horned sheep than humans..

 

This is the part of the tour I (Gabs) have not really been looking forward to… the heat, complete remoteness, the altitude, the mighty Tajikistan and being off grid for weeks on end. When we cross the Casper Sea from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan there is no turning back. We just have to keep on going as the clock is ticking, we must make it to China (Kashgar) for October. This means eight solid weeks in the deserts.

 

Thoughts and feelings?

We can’t believe we have completed one year… only six more to go!!!!!!

We’re really excited to be back on the bicycles and getting closer and close to China and South East Asia. From here we will plan our next part of the tour – Which way will we go?!

 

This all depends on the time of year, the weather and the best way for us to get to Mongolia. We can’t believe we are thinking of Mongolia already.

 

Chris is still recovering and doesn’t feel a 100% and the heat doesn’t help. Unfortunately, we can’t wait around and not cycle because of these visas.

We really must make sure we have enough water and keep sheltering ever few miles to cool down as we don’t want to get heat stroke. We now sleep in just the inner tent, we try and find trees to camp under for shelter but its getting more and more difficult now as there are not many trees.

 

“We harness the elements, Some just shelter.”

Chris & Gabs

Chris O’Hare and Gabriella Gratrix are no strangers to a challenge, but this year will see them face the biggest challenge of all, as they set off to cycle around the world for Prevent Breast Cancer. This epic journey will see them cycle over 100,000 km across 7 continents, and will take around 7 years. If just reading those figures leaves you breathless, pencil in the fact that many areas won’t have roads, and some mountain passes are almost impassable, even harder given the fact that their bikes will weigh over 55kg when loaded with kit! Now, that’s some going!