Photos Giovanni Maria Pizzato / Jennifer Doohan, words by Lian van Leeuwen

The gap widens. Most riders have made it through CP1 by now, while the top 10 already collected their second stamp at CP2. It was good to see Lee Craigie on the move again, although her alternative route will hold a story and also means she’s probably out of the official race. As she just reached CP2, an update on that will follow shortly.

Reaching their first checkpoint in the race gave a huge mental boost for many of the riders. Reconnecting with the home front via that long-awaited phone call and meeting others who are enduring similar highs and lows is a precious thing after spending hours to days with your own thoughts.

Checkpoint 2 holds its own little surprises. To officially reach CP2, riders follow a rough track that runs parallel to the no-man’s land with China and leads to Kel-Suu lake. To finish the actual parcours they first have to hike-a-bike to the top of a hill and then cross a waist deep river on their way down. Riders facetiously calling race director Nelson Trees a sadist after taking on Kegety pass will certainly enjoy this part of the race!

It was a bit of an emotional arrival at CP2 for first man in @JayPetervary. The last 24 hours had been tough on him as he was suffering from heat exhaustion during some gruesome gravel climbs. But being welcomed by locals seemed to make up for all the hardship. As he stated upon arrival:

The people from this country are the best I’ve ever come across in my life. It makes me emotional. They welcome me on their horses, greet me, shake my hand and just carry on. People aren’t questioning me if I am crazy. I like that. This community is another reminder of why I do these things.’

And exactly this is what shines through in every riders’ narrative: the incredible hospitality of this country. There are multiple stories of locals inviting them in for tea, providing food and water, or helping out with any kit issues – as far as possible in these remote areas. Rider @basrotgans was helped out with a leaking tubeless tire by the local ‘master of car tire’. @bagolylevente had a hard time leaving the military post near CP2 because they all wanted to try out his bike. And many local flatbreads have been shared with those total strangers passing by on their fully loaded vehicles.

Meanwhile the consecutive top 5: Jay Petervary Le Magnan Pierre-arnaud Bagoly Levente Kim Raeymaekers and Tom Searby is on its way to CP3, nearing halfway of the race.


© 2018 Silk Road Mountain Race