July 13, 2014
At 7 am China time (5 am real time), we were on the lonely, desert road. There was no wind at the beginning, so we were doing fast. The only thing ahead, according to the map, was a short side road meeting this road 90 km away, where we expected to see some sort of town or village. Not having eaten enough for the past couple of days had made me really weak. After 50 km riding nonstop, I had no energy left to move on, but I had to keep going. I remembered that I had had some dried dates in my bags. I stopped and put them in my pocket. Every time I had a pang of hunger or no energy, I would put a few of them in my mouth and dampen them with a sip of water.
After 90 km, we reached the short road we had seen on the map. Yes... There was a 500-meter dirt road but for the trucks to load big boulders from a mine. However, there were some tents and a cafe. I went to the cafe to get some water. The woman showed me a sticker of "Nexus Expedition" on the wall in his kitchen. That meant Dimitri, the French cyclist we had met on our way in Kyrgyzstan was there. We decided to stay there and eat lunch knowing that the next town is 140 km away. We ate some noodles with vegetable and some chunks of meat. After an hour we were on the road again, not knowing where or when to stop.
We were very lucky because the sun was not scorching today. There was a thin layer of cloud blocking the burning, blinding sun. The wind was also not a head wind except for 15 km in the morning. So we kept riding and riding because, there was nowhere to stop, and we wanted to get out of this desert as soon as possible.
At about 7 pm and covering 215 km, the longest ride I have ever done in a day, we reached a village on a river side. We had to camp there, but the challenge was the fact that all the wooded areas were protected by barbed wires. We could not camp near a tree. There was only one opening, but there were some young men swimming in the river near the opening, so we could not go in. We waited and waited. We went up and down the road, we lingered some time pretending everything except any indication of camping there until we found a moment when there was nobody around and we sneaked in.
The camping spot was horrible, swarms of biting mosquitoes covered us immediately. We used our sprays, but it could not stop them from biting. We had only half hour of sun light, so we had to be quick and discreet. We pitched up our tents, made instant noodle, and tried to sleep.