Karimabad to Gilgit, Pakistan

Distance: 62 miles
Time on bikes: 4 hours

It rains for most of night and we all come out of our rooms onto the terrace with the same expression. If the mud on the road down has gone soft it’s going to be treacherous trying to navigate down on the bikes. Ideally we’d like to get to Gilgit today which is about 60 miles south of Karimabad on the KKH.

We start with an easy task – breakfast. After this we have a go at looking into why Fabian’s bike seems to have a fueling problem. We remove the handmade 37 litre tank and also take off the airbox. This all looks fine, so we proceed to remove all the spark plugs and find that the two in the front cylinder are thick black, as if no air is getting into the cylinder. This is about the extent of our technical ability, but we do spot that a vacuum pipe running into the front cylinder has a hole and could be either the problem, or something which is contributing towards it.

With the pipe fixed, the bike goes back together and seems to be running a bit better. That’s at least some good news and we decide to then get ready and go for it. The rain that’s been threatening to fall all morning seems to be only falling on the mountains around us. We’ve heard what sounds like thunder, but this is only the sound of dynamite as they’re blasting in the nearby valley to clear some rockfalls.

After getting ready we ride with some trepidation back down the hill, and thankfully the rain which fell overnight has not left the surface too bad. The really bad corner on the downhill we’d all been thinking about was not too bad in the end; probably because we’d been building ourselves up for it since riding up the road a couple of days ago.

The road to Gilgit, although only 60 miles, seems to be an almost continuous and seemingly endless stretch of road works. The surface is variable, which unfortunately catches a few of us out. We arrive in one town and they’ve solved the uneven road surface problem by simply laying a thick layer of gravel which makes life very difficult for everyone. Stefano has a fall, while Fabian simply gets completely stuck.

The problem with the soft surface causes havoc with Fabian’s bike as he remains stationary despite several attempts to pull away. While Carl gives Stefano a hand to sort out straightening his luggage, the locals give Fabian a push up the hill. It’s amazing to see the situation we’re in, as even a mini-bus gets stuck next to us and the passengers need to disembark and push to get going again, but luckily our bikes are light enough to be able to get through without too much drama.

Unfortunately Fabian’s clutch seems to be having problems and the thick gravelly surface looks like it’s taking it’s toll. Towards the top of the hill, Fabian’s bike is refusing to move forwards despite giving it revs and having the clutch fully out. This isn’t good – having a part like that let go here is a real problem. Our problems seem to be thankfully limited to another issue with Carl’s panniers as another door hinge mount has disappeared. It’s one of only two that were still riveted on and Carl’s kicking himself that he didn’t replace them with bolts. A ratchet strap is employed to secure the pannier on the bumpy roads to Gilgit until a more aesthetic repair can be carried out.

It’s getting to dusk while we’re riding along about 10 miles from Gilgit. We’d been on the go for about five hours by now and we’re all tired. Since Fabian’s clutch problem occurred, he’s gone off ahead as the bike seems to run fine on the flat. About 20 minutes after our problems with the gravel, we come across Fabian with his bike crashed and almost upside down. There’s a big patch of sand which he’s lost control in, and thankfully it serves as an excellent warning for us to slow down. Our bikes sink when we go through the sand and it’s impossible to get our side stands down to get off the bikes. We see that Stefano has also crashed behind us, so we quickly get the bikes parked up where we can and run back to help out.

On the way to help Stefano and Fabian, Carl sees Béné’s bike keel over in the sand so has to double back to get it back upright. It looks like carnage around us and people stop in passing cars to see if we’re ok. When we get to Stefano, we see his bike has come down quite hard, but on the left hand side this time and the front indicator has been smashed. We get the bike upright and then go about reattached the damaged right hand pannier as we can see it’s rubbing on the rear tyre. We then get Fabian’s bike upright, which also has a slightly damaged front indicator, and again can get on our way.

It’s dark when we get going again and eventually arrive in Gilgit at 8 pm in the pitch black. We manage to find the hotel and get the bikes parked in the courtyard. We’re all knackered and just manage to get sat down to order food for dinner and then collapse in bed.

Jour 142 – Mardi 7 Septembre 2010. De Karimabad a Gilgit, Pakistan

Distance: 100 km – Temps a moto: 4 hours

Il a plu pendant la nuit et nous sommes tous concients que la descente vers la ville sera plus difficile si la partie en terre est transformee en boue, et nous ne sommes du coup pas trop presses. Nous commencons par le petit déjeuner, puis nous rangeons doucement nos affaires. Carl et Fabian essayent de trouver le problème sur la moto de Fabian ; ils nettoient les bougies, trouvent un tuyot avec un trou et le reparent, mais rien ne semble être un problème qui ferai ralentir la moto. Ils remettent donc tout en place et vers midi nous prenons la route, un peu anxieux de la descente au village dont la route est en mauvais etat.

La descente se passe plutôt bien, malgres la pluie de la nuit il n’y a pas trop de boue et nous sommes tous contents d’arriver a Karimabad sans trop de glissades. Après une petite pause et quelques biscuits au magasin du coin nous prenons la route vers Gilgit ou nous espérons retrouver Donato et Roberta. La route est très mauvaise et semble en traveaux tout du long. Dans un des village, la surface est faite d’une epaisse couche de gravillons, Stefano y glisse et se retrouve parre terre, et Fabian n’arrive pas a avancer, il semble qu’il a un problème d’embrayage, et des qu’il ralentis il faut le pousser pour qu’il puisse repartir. Dans ce gravier, les bus aussi ont du mal a demarrer et souvent ils ont besoin d’être pousses au demarrage.

L’après midi passe vite et il commence a faire sombre, le route change sans arret de gravier ferme a grevier profond, a sable et ensuite goudron, et Fabian et Stefano  chutent tous les deux dans le sable. Heureusement il n’a a pas de degars. Nous arrivons enfin a Gilgit dans le noir, et James et Emily nous ont attendus au début de la ville pour qu’on cherche ensemble le chemin de l’hôtel ou Donato et Robarta. Nous passons deux pont suspendus, mais dans le noir il est difficile de savoir si nous sommes en hauteur ou non.

L’hôtel est sympa et nous y mangeons un plat de riz avant de profiter d’une bonne douche et de nous coucher, nous sommes tous bien fatigues, la route était bien plus mauvaise que nous pensions.