THE SILK ROAD AND TRIKES
They set off on their journey from the foot of the Eiffel Tower on one beautiful sunny Sunday in March 2014. Nicolas Cochin, originally from Jumeauville, and his girlfriend, Anne-Cé. Ultimately, they managed to win a crazy bet that they would travel 12,500 kilometres from Paris to Bangkok along the Silk Road. They travelled on two AZUB TRIcon trikes.
Contributed by Anne-cécile and Nicolas
We did practice a bit, but…
“We did practice a bit, but we had never done anything too big on a bike.. Many people thought we wouldn’t cope,” says Anne-Cé. In fact, it took several thousand kilometres before they adjusted their bikes, learnt from their mistakes and dared to camp in the wild. “We dreamt of open spaces, of living in the outdoors, but the first part of our journey took us mainly along roads in urban areas,” the young woman continues. But there were other things that could have discouraged our two adventurers. Right after leaving France, they had to deal with snow, which meant that they had to undertake their first ascend up a mountain in heavy snowfall.
In Italy they found their pace and although the scenery was not that interesting, they enjoyed the delicious food and great hospitality of the people. In the Balkans, the scenery improved significantly and the food was good too. But those hills! Albania showed them that the more east they went, everything would change. Hardly anyone observed rules on the roads, cars would drive in whatever lane took their fancy and they even saw a van with just three wheels.
Leaving Europe behind
Getting to Istanbul marked leaving Europe behind and the start of a true adventure. In Turkey, they often slept in a tent at petrol stations, and when those dwindled down the more east they went, Nicolas and Anne- Cé experienced true Turkish hospitality, because people often invited them to their houses. This experience intensified in Iran. “The Iranians are incredibly hospitable. We felt like family members there. They wanted to keep us,” the travellers reminisce.
Central Asia began
Central Asia began with Turkmenistan and it wasn’t a great experience. The state offers only a five-day transit visa, but the distance you need to travel is more than 500 kilometres. Additionally, the roads were pretty bad and the temperature was reaching 50 °C. Eventually, they managed to get to the Uzbek border, although the last sixty kilometres they had to travel on a truck. Uzbekistan was much easier and they were able to visit the historic cities of Bukhara and Samarkand on the famous Silk Road. In Tajikistan, however, they were faced with the hardest challenge. To travel the second highest altitude road, the legendary Pamir Highway, across six passes, some of which are at a height of over 4,000 metres above sea level. Compared with their friends on classic bikes who often had to get down and push their bikes up, going on three wheels was better. As they say: “We move slowly but surely.” Nevertheless, it wasn’t only the steep mountains that hindered them. Every morning their tent was covered in hoarfrost and the water in their bottles was frozen. China is a country with such an extremely varied landscape, nature and culture, that it can take your breath away. But you need it to travel hundreds of kilometres. Their reward came with some glorious stages in Southeast Asia and a several weeks of rest in Bangkok. After that, they only had to go from Amsterdam airport back to Paris, to stop their odometer at 12,500 km.
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