Along the way I encountered a slight problem when I lost my bike pump and promptly received a puncture whilst cycling the gravel roads between Song Kul and Kochkar. Being over 3000 metres above sea level and 70km from the nearest permanent settlement, this was not ideal. After an hour or so of waiting vainly for some sort of vehicle to pass my way, my knight in shining armour arrived in the form of an ancient Lada driven by two bleary-eyed gents. They agreed to shove my bike in the boot and we headed off towards the pass that was the gateway to Lake Issyk-Kul. With half my bike frame sticking out the back of the car we stopped to greet some yak herders before heading over the pass. At this point the driver decided to coast the engine but, in so doing, the brakes became unresponsive.
After six months’ cycling, with a fat lip, tattered clothing and a bike that looked like it had been run over by a soviet tank, I rolled into Chembakolli on my 31st birthday – 20 years since I first dreamt up the idea. I was greeted by a carnival of people playing drums, singing, cheering, waving flags and banners saying ‘Happy birthday’. I wanted to be articulate, to thank them for this tremendous welcome, tell them my adventures, pass on messages from the children in England. All I could do was crouch down and cry. Tears of joy were rolling down my cheeks. I’d lived my dream.
At heart it’s a simple, natural idea; to circumnavigate the globe under human power, but to consider doing so by multiple means and in such a way that makes you shake your head at the audacity of it all, well, it takes someone special to pull it off. Sarah Outen has never just been a talker. From the moment she conceived the idea of kayaking, rowing, and cycling around the world her poor Mum was resigned to the fact that not only would her daughter leave when she promised, but she’d never waiver from a commitment to taking on a continuous journey that is likely to keep her away from home for two and a half years.