First Taste of Spring

I opened my eyes, and like every morning, I needed a handful of seconds, structure my thoughts. Uzbekistan, a friendly man invited us, that’s why it is a house today, etc. Like always, Tieme, and the slightly insomniac Kaleb, who joined the peloton since Bukhara, were already awake. Me and Will, on the other hand, were still enjoying our morning snooze. Dear Kaleb was making the espresso, that, according to our little pact, I’d get every day, as long as I don’t touch any cigarettes.

‘It’s snowing outside’, they said. We’d been cycling so long together now, that the bulk of our communication had already become nonsense. How could it be snowing? 14 hours before, we were enjoying a cold beer in the evening sun. Blossoms all over the place, spring had finally arrived. But they were not lying, the temperature dropped a stunning 25 degrees in one day, and the green grass had been replaced by a carpet of powdery fresh snow. Our host of the day fed us with a mountain of plov, the Uzbek national rice dish, a real champions breakfast. And maybe because of the sudden cold, but more likely because of daily routine, he tapped his throat with index finger, the well-known Russian sign, meaning a sip of vodka would suit the circumstances. We drank a bit, to warm our bodies, and be prepared for the ride. But, unsurprisingly, the longer we stuck around, the less we felt like going. Staying there another day was no option, despite the family had offered us. We had to be in Samarkand that evening, 75 km further, to get registered in a hotel. It’s either that, or a high risk of getting trouble leaving the country.

It became a tough but hilarious ride: skidding lada’s, more vodka invitations, traditional music, a sporadic crash of the entire peloton, and a lot of Uzbek support. In the end it got a bit tough: the slush in our wheels froze every time we stopped for some minutes, making riding impossible. We even failed to stay together – they ditched me. Some friendly people drove me to the cheapest place in town, where half an hour later, our little peloton miraculously congregated again. The reward: the beautiful silk road city of Samarkand, covered in a layer of fresh snow. It made us worry a bit about crossing the Pamir mountains in april though, where we were all heading to. Worry, or open our eyes.

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