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week 1:  taklamakan desert
6.20.01
90 km
5.5 hrs
Set out from Kashgar with Martin Adserballe and Stephan Grumitz. Kashgar has grown so much in the last five years that I could not find the way out of town. A Chinese man on a bike noticed our confusion and showed us the way. Once on the main road he stopped, bought us soft drinks and sent us on our way to Kathmandu. Long hot day along the souther edge of the Taklamakan desert. Camped near a lake with views of the mountains.
6.22.01
108 km
7 hrs
Nice poplar lined road, but a nervous day as we were turning on to road 219, the road is strictly closed to foreigners.  Crested a hill on 219 and came upon a PSB (Public Security Bureau) checkpoint. Nervous ride through it but the PSD decided to ignore us. Illegal but tolerated seems to be the present Chinese stance on cyclists along the road (this is the same rumor we had heard in Kashgar).
 
6.23.01
62 km
6 hrs
Frustrating slow day. Made horrid time, nervous about being able to make it to Kathmandu at this rate. Pavement ends. Washboard jeep road for the next 2,000K.
6.24.01
65 km
6.5 hrs
First pass, 3245 m. Back in the mountains. Fast descent then a shit road. Deep mud, rock fields, knee deep river crossings. Stephan and I parted ways with Martin, I feel bad but I’m nervous about making it to the border in time, we have less than 2 months on our visas and over 2,000 km to go.
The Taklamakan Desert spans much of Western China.  It is hot, dry, windy, and in places only just above sea level; as such it serves as a daunting jumping off point for a road that climbs above 17,000 ft.
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