Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Mountains ahead

September 17th, 2011

Mountains ahead from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken stumbles on a topographic map of Alaska and North America. Noticing there’s quite a few mountains ahead…

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Back in the mountains

December 23rd, 2010

Back in the mountains from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Enjoy a unique piece of footage, shot in mountains north of Hong Kong. No lorries rumbling by, no road building in sight. And no commentary. Just plain, simple old-fashioned tranquility. And a smattering of snow and some winter sun. A little above freezing.

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Bitter and bright, cats and bags

December 18th, 2010

Fair to say I’d exhausted my supply of cucumber sandwiches a while back. Reliant instead on a small stash of black tea bags and powdered milk to retain a modicum of Englishness. Always good for morale.

And morale needed a bit of a boost. Aching Achilles. Dose of anti-inflammatories. Take it steady. Resist the temptation to push too hard. Just enough to reach to Hong Kong in time for Christmas. Hoping it wouldn’t worsen. Quietly confident I was being sensible. Cats out of bags and all that.

Climb - web

I’d been a long mountain day. Steep climbs and long descents. Bitter and bright. A little above freezing. Curtains of melt water dripping off roofs. But the ankle seemed stable. So far so good.

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Little respite…

September 23rd, 2010

Truck stop - external - web

Fresh snow falls on distant peaks. I’d left the shelter of my room in the truck stop, pondering the plan for the day. The storm had passed, the last of the lightening shortly before sunrise. Thunder replaced by the frequent rumble of lorries on the highway. The wind had subsided a little, no longer gale force, but still strong, gusting. Marginal for riding. I’d still quite a bit of climb yet to come, but there was a chance they’d be more shelter higher up. Decided it’d be worth a shot.

Progress was derisory at first. Battered by the wind, unpredictable in both strength and direction. Constantly changing. A landscape devoid of clues, not even a single tree. I’d at least been able to find a stretch of old road, parallel with the highway, allowing me to stay well clear of the many unfenced culverts or steep drops. A single truck stop late morning.

Map - extra annotations - web

By five civilisation. Toll station, beyond it a few buildings, a small shop. Respite. And a chance to glean something of the road ahead, my map already heavily annotated. Drawing a small crowd, albeit well-intentioned, it was soon time to move on. Downhill at last. A small village. Another truck stop and a bed for the night.

Truck stop - pan - web

[For those curious about my map annotations, TS = Truck stop – basic but usually have simple, cheap accommodation. PS = Petrol station – modern, more expensive version of a truck stop, normally stocks tinned coffee drinks but nowhere to stay. TB = Toll booth – TS or PS close by. Located using Google Earth. And the spot heights are metres, not feet!]

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To the lake

August 10th, 2010

"Always be a little unexpected" – Oscar Wilde

The ascent to Lake Sayram Hu. Penetrating dust. Thick, black choking fumes of ascending lorries. Billowing, acrid smoke pouring from the brakes of those in descent. Pristine dual carriageway ends as abruptly as the mountains start east of the frontier town of Khorgas. Rough, stony track, a strong headwind channelled down the steep sided narrow valley makes progress very slow. Demanding. Struggling to control the bike at such slow speed amongst the ruts and loose stones. Lorries crawling past unnervingly close. Neatly cultivated fields, sunflowers, small villages on the plain below soon forgotten.

It is that steep - web version

The pass rises to almost seven thousand feet, the summit col overlooking the wide expanse of the lake. A centuries old trading route from Kazakhstan in the west towards Beijing in the east. An ancient Silk Road. Today, a vast construction site, perhaps thirty or more miles in length. New road tunnels being dug, wide carriageways being built, a vast suspension bridge close to completion. Workers encampments dotted along the route. Not so much an upgrade as a bold re-design.

Mountain montage

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