What exactly is included in the race fee?
We have done our best to keep the race as reasonable as possible but to do things right there are a number of unavoidable costs. one of the biggest is setting up a start, a finish and three manned checkpoints. Kyrgyzstan is a very wild place and much of the course is pretty remote, it takes a lot of ressources to put these things in place. To give you an idea, two of the checkpoints do not even have cell phone coverage, the only means of communication is by satellite phone… We also have two 4×4 control cars in the field which will carry race staff and media. If you don’t have your own tracker, a portion of the fee goes on tracker rentals, a smaller portion also does for those with their own tracker. In addition to this, riders will get a race cap and possibly a few other useful goodies (we are still working on this, details to come).
What kind of bike do you recommend for this race?
The ideal bike is most likely a rigid 29er with 2.0″+ tyres with mountain bike gearing. You would also be OK on a modern gravel bike with some 650b and around 2.0″ tyres. You could technically do it on skinnier tyres but it would be tougher. It would mainly be in terms of comfort with long days in the saddle that it’ll be hard on you. The roads vary from hard pack gravel to some pretty rough stuff and washboard. It’s going to be interesting to see what setups people will turn up with on race day.
Why race it? It sounds like a nice tour.
Why race anything? I think that the best answer we can really offer is to simply direct you to this article by Mike Hall who explained it far better than we ever could.
How many people can ride together?
The race is primarily designed as a solo challenge. However, we understand that it’s a pretty serious undertaking and in the interest of making it a little more accessible to less experienced riders you can also rider as a pair. The same rules apply as to solo riders but to the pair as a whole. That means no outside assistance to the pair as a whole. Sharing equipment, drafting, support, etc. is perfectly fine between the two members of the pair.
Do I need to organise my own accommodation before/after/during the race?
This is an unsupported race. That means that you need to sort yourself out before, after and during the race. Volunteers may provide some limited assistance at checkpoints but that is entirely at their discretion and would be confined by the guidelines we have given them. Assume that no help will be given. We cannot guarantee that there will be accommodation at the checkpoints but there will be a hot meal at most hours of the day. We will update you on the details of this at a later date.
What about resupply? What do you mean when you say that there are some very remote sections on the race route?
There are a handful of sections where there is around 250 kilometers with essentially no resupply whatsoever. Think carefully about your estimated pace and the quantity of food you will need to bring with you and then bring extra. We will provide more detailed information in the race manual that will outline resupply points, the kind of resupply available, etc.
Are there any qualifications needed? What are the entry requirements?
There are no precise qualifications required, no qualifying events, etc. That being said, we will be asking some questions on your experience during the registration process. You don’t necessarily need to have done a similar race but we need to know that you have experience out in the wilderness, that you know how to look after yourself in tough conditions. If you are inexperienced but determined to take part we will give you the chance to prove yourself by completing a ride or trip that will show you are prepared.
What is that best way to get to the start of the race with my bike?
The race is designed so that riders fly in and out from Bishkek. We will provide return transport to Bishkek after the party. It’s pretty much the only airport with decent connections for international flights. In our experience, Aeroflot is the best way to come from Europe, your bike replaces your allowed hold luggage with no surcharge. The other two main options are Turkish Airlines and Pegasus. Generally speaking flights are quite reasonable year round.
What are the visa requirements for Kyrgyzstan?
Passport holders from many countries do not require a visa to enter Kyrgyzstan and may stay for up to 60 days. Things have recently changed making it easier for citizens of other countries to come to Kyrgyzstan, many can now apply online for an eVisa or obtain a visa on arrival at the airport in Bishkek. Please check the situation for your country well in advance but it should not pose a problem.