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Silk Road Mountain Race 2019

Jdoohanphoto

Silk Road Mountain Race 2019

Collection by Silk Road Mountain Race

16

Tours

133:51 h

1,066 mi

85,025 ft

The route for the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race was not easy. As with any new event, there were plenty of unknowns, often exacerbated by the fact that Kyrgyzstan is not a well travelled corner of the world. If you couple all this with particularly difficult weather conditions, we ended up with a seriously tough race. That being said, we also think the challenges involved contributed to the overall experience of those that took part, even for those that were not able to finish. For this reason, we decided not to make the second edition any different in terms of length or difficulty.

We had planned to use this edition to explore new, less travelled roads, but due to a change in policy on the part of the Chinese government, we will not able to take the Uzengugush border road that technically enters Chinese territory. This has had quite an impact on the overall race route as it was the only safe way to pass through this area, with numerous dangerous river crossings on potential alternates. We have thus had to revert to last year’s route for the section between Checkpoints 1 & 2. We are disappointed that we are unable to take riders to this beautiful, wild part of the country, but are confident that this route will also be an epic adventure for everyone taking part. We apologize to everyone that was excited to discover this part of the race.

The second edition of the Silk Road Mountain Race will follow a 1710 kilometre route with roughly 26,000 meters of climbing. It will again take riders through the remote mountain landscapes of the Tian Shan mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan. The overall shape of the route is quite similar to last year, with the same checkpoints: Song Kul, Kol Suu and Issyk-Kul.

The start will be in Bishkek but unlike the previous year, we will be opting for a grand départ further south of the city. We will implement some traffic calming measures as riders briefly cross the main road on their way out of town.

We have moved the finish to Cholpon Ata, a beach resort town on the north shore of lake Issyk-Kul. Finishers will be able to relax and enjoy all the amenities a larger city has to offer. It should make for a great finish location.

Riders who are familiar with the 2018 route, will recognise that there are a lot of similarities. Long stretches remain unchanged. There are however, a few notable updates that add up to around 300 kilometres of new tracks. The first new section is the replacement of Tosor pass with Tong pass, essentially a like-for-like swap. The two passes are very similar in length and difficulty but with Tong just breaking the 4000m mark at 4012m. The other new section this year, is the last pass before heading down to the finish line in Cholpon Ata. It will provide one final challenge before riders can finally enjoy a well-deserved beer or two.

We hope that you are as excited as we are by the route for the second edition of the Silk Road Mountain Race! Scroll down for a more detailed outline of each section of the route. We’ve split it into sixteen distinct tracks and highlighted the major points of interest and difficulties of each. The following information should give you a better idea of what to expect in the second edition of the race but is still lacking more precise details that will help riders prepare for the race. We will be updating this information in the coming weeks and months so that it is complimentary with the Race Manual.

Photography by Tom Hardie & Jdoohanphoto

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    04:31
    40.0 mi
    8.9 mph
    3,000 ft
    3,025 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Riders will gather for the start of the race at the flagpole near Orto-Say, on the way out of Bishkek. Unlike last year where we had a neutralised start and police escort, riders will be able to race at their own pace from the outset. The first 10 kilometres or so are very quiet dirt roads that will

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  • Difficult
    07:15
    34.8 mi
    4.8 mph
    8,775 ft
    3,300 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The biggest single ascent of the entire race in elevation gain. It’s long and tough and will quickly let riders know what they’re getting themselves into. Last year it had a real impact on the overall field of riders, with some deciding to make their way over the pass on the first day and others preferring

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  • Difficult
    07:15
    65.5 mi
    9.0 mph
    2,750 ft
    5,150 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After the hardships of Kegety, riders will take a right into the Karakol valley. They will soon be making their way up another high pass, at a little over 3400 meters. They will be surrounded by beautiful alpine landscapes before finally reaching Kojomkul, the first resupply point of the race. The village

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  • Difficult
    07:12
    66.7 mi
    9.3 mph
    2,600 ft
    2,500 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Riders will then head through a narrow valley along the Kokemeren river on a mixed surface with its fair share of washboard gravel. If the timing is right, there are a number of guest houses in Kyzl-Oi which they can ask about at the CBT office in the village. There is also one small, rather limited

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  • Difficult
    05:10
    35.5 mi
    6.9 mph
    4,250 ft
    1,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The route up to Checkpoint 1 is in our opinion the most beautiful way to reach Song Kul lake from the north or west but it's also one of the most difficult. To reach the foot of the climb riders leave the main road and head through what riders dubbed the ‘longest village in Kyrgyzstan’. The climb itself

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    61.3 mi
    12.0 mph
    2,050 ft
    5,600 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After leaving Checkpoint one behind, riders will be treated to a big gravel descent as they head down Moldo-Ashuu pass. At the foot of the climb they’ll have the option of having a rare coffee at the shop in Jangy-Talap. They’ll then cross the Naryn river and return briefly onto paved roads before reaching

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  • Difficult
    05:54
    43.9 mi
    7.4 mph
    6,650 ft
    3,600 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It may not look like much on the map but this section of the route is one of our favourites and features some of the most stunning views of the entire race. Be sure to look over your shoulder as you reach the summit of the climb shortly after Baetov. The rippling canyons and foothills are truly a sight

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  • Difficult
    13:39
    116 mi
    8.5 mph
    4,475 ft
    2,925 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Chinese highway is 80 kilometers of smooth tarmac until you reach the border control point at Torugart. Riders will reach speeds they had almost forgotten were possible on the flat. Beyond Torugart though, the road becomes a rough mud track along the eerie no man's land with China. Be warned that

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  • Intermediate
    02:11
    14.0 mi
    6.4 mph
    1,575 ft
    2,325 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The old soviet road is only a short section of the overall route but it left a marking impression on riders in the first edition of the race. The 1.4 kilometre climb out of CP2 has an average gradient of almost 14%, gradually increasing on the way up, to reach 18% near the summit. It’s almost certainly

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  • Difficult
    07:16
    68.0 mi
    9.3 mph
    2,750 ft
    6,225 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After crossing the Ak-Sai river, riders will travel north and onto Naryn as they did last year. After Bosogo there is a long section of washboard gravel road. Riders may ride beside the road on alternate tracks left by cars trying to avoid the rough surface. The smooth tarmac descent into Naryn, and

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  • Difficult
    19:36
    156 mi
    7.9 mph
    9,800 ft
    11,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This section of the race may not be quite as wild as what we had initially planned for this year's riders but it is nonetheless remote and wild, with very little in the way of resupply or shelter. It's also hard to find a more beautiful section of Kyrgyzstan to ride through. The ever changing landscapes

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  • Difficult
    11:01
    63.8 mi
    5.8 mph
    11,300 ft
    6,925 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    New for this year's race, and ever so slightly taller than Tosor pass, that it replaces, this is one of the biggest passes of the race. At around 4012m, it is the only pass that breaks the 4000m mark. It towers above lake Issyk-Kul. It’s not the single hardest pass of the race but it is definitely one

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  • Difficult
    09:44
    106 mi
    10.9 mph
    2,775 ft
    6,700 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Karakudzhur valley after Tong is another section from last year’s route that was amongst many riders’ favourite. It’s lined on all sides by snow capped peaks and is a gradual descent towards Kochkor. Do not be fooled by the slight downwards incline though, the rough surface will slow progress and

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  • Difficult
    15:52
    110 mi
    6.9 mph
    13,250 ft
    14,225 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The route from Kochkor to Shabdan includes what is still likely the hardest pass of the race: Shamsi. It's essentially a horse track over a 3800 meter pass that includes around 20 kilometres of hike a bike. That being said it is also one of our favourite sections and more than one rider from last year

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  • Difficult
    06:25
    43.7 mi
    6.8 mph
    4,800 ft
    1,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Chong Kemin is a picturesque valley that climbs gently towards the Kazakh border. Riders’ border zone permit will again be checked towards the end of this section before they tackle the final pass of the race. This whole section should be quite a smooth run, on dirt and gravel tracks up the valley.

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  • Difficult
    05:44
    41.5 mi
    7.2 mph
    4,225 ft
    7,625 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Kok-Airyk pass is the final challenge of the race. It’s another 3800 meter pass, but with a road that is heavily damaged and hasn’t been passable by car for several years. Riders will need to pick their way over many sections where rockfall and landslides make riding impossible. We must also warn you

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    16
  • Distance
    1,066 mi
  • Duration
    133:51 h
  • Elevation
    85,025 ft

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