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Silk Road Mountain Race 2021 — Bikepacking the mountains of Kyrgyzstan

Chris McClean

Silk Road Mountain Race 2021 — Bikepacking the mountains of Kyrgyzstan

Mountain Biking Collection by Jenny Tough



144:29 h

1,154 mi

109,075 ft

I returned to the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan, three years after winning the inaugural edition, to compete against myself and see if I could improve on my previous effort.

Over a much longer and harder course, I managed to shave two days off my time, finishing in 11 days and 14 hours.

Official event description from race organiser Nelson Trees:
'The Silk Road Mountain Race is a fixed route, unsupported, single-stage cycling race through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The clock does not stop and there are no prizes. It follows gravel, single and double track and old soviet roads that have long been forgotten and fallen into disrepair. There is very little tarmac. There is some walking, and at times there is great distances between resupply points.'

On The Map


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Silk Road Mountain Race

1,136 mi

96,600 ft

95,375 ft

Last updated: April 26, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: Terek Pass — SRMR 2021

    122 mi
    8.5 mph
    13,450 ft
    12,575 ft

    As always, the SRMR starts with a real punch-in-face huge climb to get the event kicked off, and Terek Pass was a huge wall to climb over!


    I was feeling the effects of altitude at the top, so quickly dropped down and thoroughly enjoyed the MTB descent towards Toktugal.


    After not sleeping (due to the night

    by Jenny Tough

  • 13:35
    81.5 mi
    6.0 mph
    16,000 ft
    12,350 ft

    This segment was marked as one of the most difficult in the race. Although it doesn't look like much from the map, with no big passes like most other days on the race, the overall altitude gain and endless tough, steep climbs really added up.


    On the final climb, I got caught in a snowstorm that blew

    by Jenny Tough

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  • 12:35
    124 mi
    9.9 mph
    7,500 ft
    7,225 ft

    Today was much kinder, with some amazing views and mostly rideable terrain.. And a long descent into CP1!


    The final hours of washboard before reaching Kochkor were pretty unwelcome and I lost steam for a bit, but arriving at a checkpoint and getting to see the race crew and other riders is the most uplifting

    by Jenny Tough

  • 15:23
    128 mi
    8.3 mph
    8,675 ft
    4,125 ft

    I left CP1 at midnight, riding out in the rain, feeling inspired and ready to take on the next leg of the race.


    The climbing was really gentle this day, which meant a lot of riding and not pushing (for a change).


    The Naryn Valley is one of the most stunning parts of the race and I enjoyed a really nice

    by Jenny Tough

  • 11:23
    73.7 mi
    6.5 mph
    8,050 ft
    8,400 ft

    Getting to the top of Arabel felt like a big win, and the loooong descent was a great reward. The shoreline of Issyk Kol was incredibly warm after my freezing night, but after a quick resupply it was straight back up into the mountains to climb Tosor.


    It's a really long and hard climb and I failed to

    by Jenny Tough

  • 11:12
    110 mi
    9.8 mph
    7,450 ft
    10,575 ft

    This day in the race started really well for me, making it to the summit of beautiful Tosor just at first light. I was overcome by the beauty, but when I stopped to take a photo I found that my SPD cleat had lost a bolt, and it took me some time to fiddle with the pedal to fix that.


    Following that, the

    by Jenny Tough

  • 11:32
    88.9 mi
    7.7 mph
    8,675 ft
    4,400 ft

    Leaving the main hub of Naryn, the race course goes into the most desolate segment, the Chinese Border.


    I had a lot of problems with punctures heading into Naryn, and sadly a bad one got me just two kilometres from CP2.


    I limped into the checkpoint, then ended up staying there for a long time trying to

    by Jenny Tough

  • 09:47
    76.0 mi
    7.8 mph
    3,250 ft
    3,300 ft

    This is one segment I rode in the other direction in 2018, and it was a slog then, too!


    The Chinese border road is one of the technically easiest segments of the race, but most riders find incredibly demoralising. It's long, flat, and WASHBOARD.


    There is next to no one out here, and sometimes the rivers

    by Jenny Tough

  • 07:45
    64.1 mi
    8.3 mph
    4,850 ft
    10,750 ft

    The climb over - and down - Tash Rabat was one of the hardest in the race. It was an entirely hike-a-bike route up and down, but luckily I caught up to a group of other riders to make the challenge a bit more fun. We hit the top of the pass just after dawn, where last night's rainstorm had left some

    by Jenny Tough

  • 12:57
    105 mi
    8.1 mph
    9,525 ft
    9,325 ft

    I left my guesthouse in the middle of the night to start my climb up to Song Kol. It's a beautiful road that I've gone *down* twice before, and it was almost more enjoyable going up.


    Stopped at the checkpoint yurt for lunch with a couple of other riders, but little did we know our day was about to get

    by Jenny Tough

  • 23:56
    180 mi
    7.5 mph
    21,725 ft
    20,725 ft

    After the difficult climb up Kegeti in a snowstorm where I had to carry my bike on my shoulders most of the way, the descent into the warm valley was a true gift.


    My body was pretty wrecked from that climb, but I decided to just keep going as far as I could, with the finish line closing in there was no

    by Jenny Tough

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Questions and Comments


Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    1,154 mi
  • Duration
    144:29 h
  • Elevation
    109,075 ft

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