The next morning, I said my goodbyes and packed my motorcycle for the first time in a few days. I'd forgotten a few packing tricks but soon I was on my way. The first kilometer felt great. After the long break I was fully rested and ready for a beautiful day of cool mountain driving. During the second, I began to hear a familiar rattling sound. I slowed and checked for loose parts but found nothing. Soon the rattling became a loud grinding and I pulled over in a parking lot in the center of Bishkek. The new bearing that I had just installed the previous day had broken already. This time I had no garage to keep the bike in so the parking lot would have to do.
First I thought I could just get some new bearings from the shop and do the whole fix in the lot. So I locked the bike, took my valuables and caught a cab. I was exhausted and it was a hot day so I didn't pay attention to where I was going. After a few minutes I realized that the cab was not going to where I had asked. This could be bad. Then he pulled over to "take a piss" but just walked around the cab and took out his phone. I grabbed my bags gave the guy some money and left. I'd heard a few stories of tourists getting robbed in this town so I was on my guard for the rest of the day and in this situation, bike unguarded in the city and me obviously carrying valuable things, I was particularly vulnerable.
Eventually I got the parts and made it back to the bike but found I couldn't remove that stupid ring again. I tried pounding it out using my axle and a rock but nothing. So I put my bags in a furniture shop nearby and carried the wheel, AGAIN, to the same garage of Russian mechanics. The same mechanics from the day before were once again successful this time though they charged me a few dollars. Japanese bearings (not chinese like the day before) in hand I headed back to my motorcycle which was now laying on its side in the parking lot waiting for the rear wheel.
With the help of a passing motorcycle enthusiast I replaced the wheel and some brake fluid that had spilled and was ready to go. It was 5:00 in the afternoon. I had started the day 2km away at about 10:00am. My lazy side carried the day and I turned around and went back to the hostel.
After saying my goodbyes again I headed off passing the parking lot and finally making it out of the city. Today I would head west out of the city towards the Uzbek border near Urckurgan passing Toktogul lake and two mountain ranges
The roads were beautiful as were the gas station attendants. Kyrgyzstan is an amazing place and it reminded me a lot of the last days in China south of Urumqi. Herds of horses and sheep grazing along the road side in large mostly green fields with tall snow capped mountains in the distance.
The mountains I passed through were just what I needed. The first was difficult and at one point I came very close to snow covered peaks. It was freezing but after yesterday's adventure in the hot sunny city it felt great. Near the top of the range, my motorcycle struggling a bit from the altitude and my jacket closed as tight as I could make it, I arrived at a very long tunnel. The tunnel was unlit and poorly (if at all) ventilated and only about a lane and a half wide. As I normally do, I raised my black tinted visor at the beginning so I could see but soon my eyes were full of soot and aching badly. So visor down I followed the dim lights of the car in front of me through the rest of the unusually long tunnel.
After the long decent from the snowy peaks, I arrived at yurts and grassland and found a cafe for lunch.
The second mountain crossing was beautiful but uneventful and I began to get excited about camping. The sun started creeping up my wind shield meaning I should start looking for a camp site. Traveling west all the time this can become annoying. I found one shielded from the road by a big pile of gravel and next to a perfectly clear river. I cooked my egg noodle dinner, did a bit of writing and set up the tent. That night I left the rain fly off the tent and slept under the stars.
I've gone back and added the rest of my photos of China up to day 18. My phone is broken and its difficult to upload photos to my computer now so I've been a bit lazy.