05-Oct-2008 – So this is it, this is my first real attempt for a conquest. Unlike the “re-visit” off confluence 47°N 52°E yesterday, this degree confluence was a good 165 kilometers away from Atyrau, and I was obviously not going to do 350 kilometers on a bicycle in 1 day. That’s why for this trip I would go together with my good friend Gary Smith. He is an experienced motorbike rider, with one of the best bikes for the type of terrain here, a BMW GS1150 Adventure which he rode here from the UK.
We started off from Atyrau at 10:00 in the morning, the BMW ready to go and Gary and me looking forward to an interesting Sunday. Although the bike had a Garmin Zumo mounted, I would mainly be the navigating passenger with my handheld Garmin GPSMap60CS, so Gary could keep his eyes on the road, and more important at a later stage, on the trail. With the first 2/3rd of the way over fairly decent asphalt roads, we could make good speed and I had a chance to enjoy the view for a while.
After a quick fuel stop in a small town called Dossor, we left the asphalt roads behind us and the speed dropped significantly. The trails are relatively flat, but the soil is so fine and powder-like, that you slide all over the place at spots where it has become loose. Gary made it through the powder with some close calls but we managed to keep the bike upright, until a large section of water filled trail filled with mud did it for us… more slippery than ice, all of a sudden the front wheel got a mind of its own, decided to go left and off we were. Luckily the speed was low, and besides a slightly bent brake pedal, nothing serious happened.
Eventually, after a long way through the vast and empty steppe, with not much more to see than the odd camel or remote grave or “farm”, we also ran out of trail and just had to make the last kilometers cross country to the confluence. It was about 13:45 when we reached the spot, and we were happy to be able to enjoy the silence for a bit and stretch our legs. As you can tell by the pictures, there was not much to be seen, although there were a few small rolling hills (if a location at 25 meters below sea level qualifies as hill) and it did make for a nice view.
When finished taking the required pictures, and logging the relevant info, we hopped back on the bike and started our way home. Now knowing the terrain a bit better, and looking forward to a cold beer in town, we made good progress and got to the main road quickly and without incidents. After the bumpy trails, it was a pleasure to be on the asphalt roads again and we were back in Atyrau around 16:00. Looking back at it, this had definitely been a very enjoyable experience, and we’ll most likely try to plan more visits for the future!
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 13:45
- Measured height: –25 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 4 m
- Topography: mostly flat, some low ground and dry salt lakes
- Vegetation: short, grassy, steppe vegetation
- Weather: sunny, 20°C (felt temperature)