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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are very few places that offer spare parts or that would be able to help you repair your bicycle. It’s basically only in Bishkek that you have a chance of finding help to fix a modern bike. You have a rather low chance of finding something in Naryn, Kochkor or Karakol at the bazar but do not count on it. Essentially, if you break something important, you will need to fix it yourself or return to Bishkek. It is best to ride conservatively on the downhills and make sure that your equipment is tough and in good shape when you turn up for the race. Bring plenty of spares for the things that you can fix easily yourself, even inner tubes aren’t easy to find… It’s going to be a real test of self-sufficiency.
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 4x4 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).