with Rod Oram


B to B 2024

B to B 2023

Tour of NZ 2023


Tour Aotearoa

Sand, wind and camaraderie

Aug 30, 2023

Day 29. Sunday, August 27. Gazli to Sarimoy. 163km, with 343m of climbing.

We knew this, the middle day of our three-day, 430km ride across the western Uzbek desert, was going to be our hardest. A high of only 26C was forecast. But with headwinds gusting to 50k/h we would have to work hard for hours on end.

We made our earliest start yet at 5.45am and half an hour later were rewarded with another gorgeous sunrise. Once again, I’d hopped aboard the Dane Train. Lars, our lead locomotive when he snapped this sunrise selfie, is followed by Jette, his wife, then Søren and Nina (our other Danish couple), then me, followed by Leonie from Australia.

The wind picked up over the next couple of hours, and you can begin to hear it in this brief video Lars shot. There were now 11 of us riding together seeking a bit of shelter from the wind (I’m third in line). The more it speeded up, the more we tightened up the bunch.

With one drink and shade stop, it took us five hours to make the 85km to lunch. For long stretches we were down to 16 or 17 k/h. At that rate we still had another six hours or so of riding to that night’s campground. Understandably, most riders opted for the van after lunch. But five of us – Lars, Søren, Warwick (from Canada), Rob (from NYC) and me – were keen to ride on. Ahead of us was Rodger (from Australia), a fast rider who was out on his own.

What were we thinking, you might well ask: 163km on a flat road with only a handful of very gentle curves, through simple and unchanging desert scenery, the distant horizon a hazy smudge and a light but steady procession of trucks and cars passing us…for 11 hours and 45 minutes (including four drink/shade stops).

We chatted a little; cracked a few jokes; and Warwick occasionally identified a bird. With the headwind buffeting us constantly, a strong sense of camaraderie kept us going.

Speaking for myself, I found the ride almost meditative (I’ll say more about that tomorrow) – though I was careful to keep my concentration sharp after my careless spill a few days back. A little psychology helped. I didn’t curse the wind. I thanked it for cooling us.

Eventually, we pulled into our overnight stop about an hour before dinner – and were greeted with some good news. Thanks to the strong wind, pitching tents on the sand was not an attractive option – tho a few hardy crew members such as Mitch the cook did.

Instead our hosts, another modern caravanserai, offered us three spare motel rooms and the prayer room for rolling out our air mattresses and sleeping bags. Moniek, our doctor, insisted, tho, that I had one of the six beds because I was still a bit sore from my spill – paracetamol and ibuprofen were keeping me going. Perhaps that’s why I’m looking so happy in this photo at the end of the day’s ride.


  1. Mark Sinclair

    Hey hey hey Rod
    The pictures, videos & especially the commentary, of the first 1/3, of your Silk Road trip are absolutely stunning young fella.

    Keep having an amazing adventure(& watch out for those speed bumps)
    Mark S🖖🤓

  2. Siuli GoGwilt

    Surely there are ways to find camaraderie with a lot less exertion!