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A stone on the way

2 August, 2015

A stone on the way

Destiny has many strange ways to help us commemorate dates. As I complete 3 months in the journey to the date, I am travelling 670km back to Osh, in Kirgizstan. There, is Muz Too, the travel agency I mentioned in my earlier post which helped fix my suspension problem just some days before.

Athena is wounded again. It’s rattling in the back of a 4×4 SUV on the same road through which we battled sand, mud and stones. There is frustration and sadness in the air. On the journey back, I try to keep a high spirit and a positive attitude, although it’s very difficult. The engine is Athena’s heart, what drives and moves her. Now she’s on her way to the ICU with an unknown prognosis and without a chance of receiving a transplant.

I left Osh 10 days ago to take the road to Pamir, the M41, a communication route used during the height of the Silk Road and one of the highest in the world. There are 1200km more or less with varying passageways above 4000m from the sea level, incredible landscapes, remote places and a great physical challenge for me and the bike.

A landslide has blocked a section of the road and it forces me to take a detour to the South. While I was going through a paved motorway, as usual, in between two distant villages, the sound of Athena’s engine changes. When I stopped, I noticed a trail of oil that marked our way for a few meters. Without doubt, this is something you don’t want to see; oil is to engines what blood is to living beings. Athena is wounded, no doubt, but there is not sign of a haemorrhage or a visible wound.

This time I don’t see many options. There is no phone coverage. I have enough food and water to wait several days until a vehicle comes by. I haven’t seen more than 20 in the whole day and many are bicycles from other travellers.

A couple of hours later, a truck passes by with its load already sealed off and I can’t get the bike on it. I ask the drivers to help me place Athena in a position so I can check the oil levels. Upon starting the engine the sound is still off and keeps on loosing oil.

As I resign myself to the fact that I will spend the night camping next to the bike, a very loaded 4×4 SUV (typical load around here) approaches. They tell me they won’t leave me on my own, but then their engine fails. As they push the truck the engine restarts. Whomever is writing the script to this journey is having loads of fun with it.

In that moment another 4×4 SUV approaches, similarly loaded, but in this one there is some space on the roof rack for Athena, next to some sheep and other luggage. As I was saying to other travellers some days ago, if angels existed, mine has extra work. Or, he is just twisted and has a great time solving problems.

The driver’s name is Guiasan and has Afghan traits. The border with Afghanistan is a few meters on the other side of the river Pamir. He tells me he can’t take me all the way to Osh but offers to drop me off in a town where I can get onto another 4×4 SUV that goes to Osh. After sorting out the payment for that trip, we take Athena off the truck and into a house, we keep going delivering some baggage and dropping people off along the way.

After inviting me to eat some soup and bread, he tells me we will depart shortly. We get Athena on the truck again, this time on its own without the sheep.

Five hours later we arrive at Mugharb, where a 4×4 SUV awaits for us. Guiasan had arranged for it while on the road when there was some phone coverage.

Once in Osh, at the Muz Too’s workshop, after some 400km, we restart Athena’s engine again to see the oil leak. Now it’s a haemorrhage. We think it’s a joint, but after taking the lid off on the chain side, we notice a wound of approx. five centimetres at the rear of the engine. It was likely caused by a stone dragged by the chain and entering into the space between the chain and the engine. There is a chance of one in five billion of this happening. Patrik, the owner of Muz Too, tells me that stones have caused some issues in his bikes before, that we will fix this. That I shouldn’t worry. That we will solder the broken piece. His positivity helps me. He tells me: “this is adventure”.

The moment, however, is very tough and I have a mixture of denial and sadness. I guess, as if I was informed of a serious illness. I try to think positively but I need a moment to accept the situation.

Using my knowledge in mechanics and from what I learned in the maintenance course for Athena in India, I managed to take the engine out after two hours. It’s late and it’s Saturday. I need to wait until Monday to keep on working.

One of the most common killers of human beings is no larger than a centimetre; the mosquito. A stone no larger than 2 centimetres has seriously wounded Athena and I hope the wound is not fatal.

Athena is now in the ICU, without its heart, waiting until surgery completes successfully.

  1. Ewelinka says:

    Some angels has told me there are many problems with landslides and blocked roads in the Pamir, your angel was worried. Just need to wait a little. Hope everything improves soon :)Greetings from Poland.

  2. Mario Cocchi says:

    Abrazo Walter!

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