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The Long Road to the Tour
Published on 23.04.2022, 11:22 in Karlsruhe, Germany
Summer 2019: Full of confidence and with new knowledge about equipment and to-dos we come back from our ‘test’ tour through the Baltic States. The plan of our Central Asia Tour for spring/summer 2020 seemed to be set!
The development of this plan already began during 2018. In May of that year, Tizian, me and two friends went on a four-day bicycle tour through the Vosges Mountains, which was not only my first multi-day bike tour, but during which Tizian and I also became a couple. Then, right in the summer of that same year, we had our first big vacation together. The destination of this vacation included some places I had always dreamed of travelling to, but had never dared. So far, I had mainly only taken city trips or hiking trips within Europe. So, together with Tizian, I ventured out of my comfort zone and we travelled together for six weeks as backpackers through Southeast Asia. There we also got off the standard backpacking routes and did several days of hiking with our tent on the Sai Kung Peninsula in Hong Kong as well as at Thakek in Laos, including overnight stays on the beach and in a cave.
“After the vacation is before the vacation”, Tizian always likes to say, and according to this motto, still being on this backpacking vacation we decided that we wanted to take a big trip together after our studies. However, the Southeast Asia trip showed that backpacking has its disadvantages: If at all possible, it takes a lot of effort to get away from the big cities and tourist areas; you have to rely on transportation like buses and spend a lot of time getting from town to town without being able to see anything on the way in between; in addition, these bus rides are not exactly pleasant and the whole thing is also relatively expensive in the long run. This experience, my minimalist mind and the small budget we wanted to set for the planned long trip to maximize its length, spoke very much in favour of the bicycle as a means of travel transportation. What of course played perfectly into Tizian’s hands as a long-time bike traveller ;-). Of course, he immediately let slip in Central Asia as a possible destination, of which I was also quickly convinced, because both the endless deserted landscapes and the cultures along the Silk Road attracted me immediately.
This brings us back to the summer of 2019, to the Baltic Tour, which was basically meant to finally convince ourselves that our big trip should really be a bicycle tour; in which I for my part also wanted to make sure, for example, that I was physically able at all to sit on the bicycle all day for a few weeks. After that, it seemed, nothing stood in the way of the Central Asia Tour starting in May 2020.
For Tizian it would have been quite suitable, practically as a continuation of his Istanbul Tour 2013, to start at the Bosporus and from there to cycle through and behind the Pamir Mountains. However, we would then arrive in time for the deepest winter in the Central Asian high mountains. Due to the climatic conditions, we therefore considered it more sensible to start the tour in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the spring of 2020, to cross the Pamir in midsummer, and from there to cycle back to Europe. We would then spend the winter at the warm Persian Gulf or in Turkey, or even already be back home. We booked flights to Almaty accordingly, and the trip would have had a foreseeable natural end, as we would basically be cycling from Central Asia back towards home.
But this plan was to be thwarted in early 2020, alternatives planned, these in turn thwarted and ultimately doomed completely to the unknown: The Corona pandemic had put a spoke in our wheels. Initially, flights were cancelled; however, a lockdown in Europe including closed land borders still seemed unthinkable at that point. So we thought a plan B, starting from our home in Karlsruhe and driving overland towards Central Asia, would be possible in any case. But before this thought had even taken hold, the situation in the whole world worsened and travelling was out of the question for the time being. All alternatives came to nothing and after our studies instead of on a big tour we went job hunting and settled in a cheap basement apartment to save our now earned money for the now indefinitely postponed tour.
More than two years we have now been waiting, saving, dreaming on … instead of being limited to half a year or a whole year as originally, the end of the tour is now completely open. Along the way, of course, we have invested a large portion of our free time into preparing and expanding the tour, as well as into creating this website and its contents. However, side effects of this longer preparation time were also some changes, the exchange or addition of equipment (possibly we would have been much lighter on the road if we hadn’t had the time and money to gather even more things), the perfection of minimal features on the website and the like :-). There is always something more to do …
After the long wait, however, the time has finally come that we will soon be able to reap the fruits of this preparation!
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