2019 Challenge - London to Mt Everest motorcycle

In Spring / Summer 2019, I rode my motorcycle from London to Mount Everest. I left from the iconic Ace Cafe in London on the morning of the 20th April (which is Tom’s birthday). We travelled through France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea (by ferry!) to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and into China; arriving at Mount Everest base camp in Tibet over 2 months and some 10,000 miles after leaving London. Highlights included riding the Silk Road; crossing the Karakum Desert; riding the Pamir Highway through mountainous Tajikistan; travelling the spectacular Wakhan Valley bordering Afghanistan; the numerous snow covered high passes in the Himalayas, many over 5000m; and the spectacular winding road through the mountains leading up to Mount Everest Base Camp in Tibet. It was a great privilege to be able to undertake such a fantastic trip, to see and experience the wonderful variety and mix of countries and cultures. Wherever we went the people were so kind and welcoming towards us. Ultimately we all have more in common than we have differentiate us; the common denominator is humanity and the best and most pure examples can be seen in the young children – their lack of fear, only curiosity, their smiles and sense of fun. … We should all aspire to be children again.
Pictures from the challenge are shown below.




Mapping out our 10,000 mile route through 19 countries! ... some of which I couldn't have spelt never mind pointed to on a map before our adventure ...



Last minute equipment checks, including sun specs, before me and Tom Mouse head off ...




All ready to go at the Ace Cafe in London, complete with my new haircut!




... and the fantastic GlobeBusters team ... 20 adventure motorcyclists ...




     A brief stop off at services in sunny Austria ...
(we travelled down through Reims in France and Ulm in Germany) 



...  the beautiful Lake Bled in Slovenia ...




... evening at Dubrovnik on the Croatian coast ...




... Album cover shot ...!




Sveti Stefan Island on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro ...



On the shore of Lake Orhid in Albania ... a big contrast to the manic capital Tirana



Welcome to Greece! ...



... one of the 6 amazing monasteries at Meteora, in Greece



...  Tom Mouse looks at one of the Meteroa monasteries ...



Entering Turkey ...!



The beautiful Hagia Sophia, which dates back to the 6th century, in the vibrant and confident city of Istanbul ... 



... on the river Bosporus at Istanbul, where East meets West ...



... the stunning caves at Cappadocia ...



the Whirling Dervishes Ceremony of the Islamic Sufi Order ... just magical ...



                                      ... one of many stops by the Turkish police ...



... most of the time they just wanted to look at the bikes, chat, and take photos ... 



... George gets a speeding ticket from the enthusiastic Turkish traffic police ...



... locals in an eastern Turkish village near Kars and the borders with Armenia and Iran ...



           Joseph Stalin's birthplace and museum in the town of Gori in Georgia ...



           ... with Tom Mouse, above the dynamic city of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia ...



... at the border crossing from Georgia in to Azerbaijan ... the sign above the road reads, "Azerbaijan Border - Good Luck" ...



 ... loading the ferry at Baku in Azerbaijan, to take us across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan ...



Gas rich Turkmenistan has a huge range of stunning white marble buildings in its capital Ashgabat ...


 ... this is the Registry Office!



                                The Turkmenbasy Ruhy Mosque is one of the largest in Central Asia with a capacity of 10,000 worshipers ...



                           ... children in their school uniforms outside of the mosque



... Turkmenistan remains very secretive and allows only 10,000 tourists into the country each year ... dunno about mouses!
(Tom Mouse is shown in front of the Independence Monument ... independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 ...)



... in the Karakum Desert  (Black Desert) ...



... our campsite ... deep in the Karakum ...



                                                  ... storm brewing ...



... the astonishing Darvaza gas crater ... larger in area than a football pitch, formed after Soviet exploratory drilling for gas went wrong ... they thought it would burn itself out in 3 to 4 weeks ... that was in 1971 ... 



... yep, camels!



... selfie with an Uzbek girl as we cross the border from Turkmenistan in to Uzbekistan ... everyone was so friendly and welcoming ...




... the money changer in Khiva in Uzbekistan ... at approx 10,000 Som to the £, you need to have big pockets!



... silk carpet being made ... women make the carpets which can take up to 2 years to complete and cost up to $60,000 ...!



... Tom Mouse checking out the wonderful silk carpets in a factory shop in Bukhara



... the road based Avon TrailRider tyres are replaced with the more off road focussed Avon TrekRider tyres for the rough roads ahead ...



Avon Tyres , great supporters of the Down's Syndrome Association, kindly provided me with  two sets of their top specification tyres ...    
... they were brilliant, fantastic grip, low wear rate, no punctures!



... you get all sorts of things in the desert ... a train!




 ... a cardboard police car ...



... and the occasional petrol station, complete with friendly attendant!



... roof tops in Khiva ...

 ... we follow the Silk Route through Uzbekistan, stopping at 3 key ancient cities Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand ...



... the magnificent tower in Bukhara



... dining room in our beautiful and quirky hotel in Bukhara ...




... and the court yard



... the ancient mosque at Samarkand




... out for a meal, the bill for 20 of us came to over 3.5 million (Som) ...



... George stacks up our cash payment
( ... the equivalent of circa £350)



... we cross over the border from Uzbekistan into Tajikistan and the town of Panjikent with its lively and colourful market ...



... market porters waiting for business ...



Soviet era flats in Panjikent ...



... we had to remove our motorcycle boots at the door to the hotel and were given rather natty slippers to wear ...



... the children are always curious and always seem to appear wherever you stop ... 



... very serious having received a Tom Mouse sticker! ...




 ... survived the neatly named "tunnel of death" ... 5km of narrow, dark, exhaust fume filled passageway with the occasional truck to add to the excitement ...




... a truck made it through the tunnel but not the twisty decent ...



... road-side fridge ... a waterfall runs through it ...



... stopped by the police for a chat in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The capital is not unlike a European city and provides a big contrast to the simplicity and poverty in the largely mountainous country ...



... Tom Mouse with a former Soviet Union Magnum ... really good!




... trying out a Police motorcycle for size, alongside one of the locals ...
... wherever we went the people were so welcoming towards us ... in Tajikistan many put their right hand on their heart as they waved and smiled at us ... I found this warm and personal action very moving ...




... into the stunning and challenging Wakhan Valley which runs between Tajikistan and Afghanistan ...



... the fast flowing River Panj forms a natural border, and runs through the Wakhan Valley ...
we are looking in to Afghanistan from Tajikistan ...



... Afghanistan looked beautiful ... we waved at villagers across the river and got friendly waves in return ...




... mountains in adjoining Afghanistan rise steeply, some near to the border are snow capped and over 5000m high  ...



... the Wakhan Valley continues ...



... the boys at Kailikum ...




... at Yamchun Fort which dates back to 300 BC although the current
ruins are 12th century ...



... high above the Wakham Valley.




... at Yamchun Fort, in Tajikistan, a fabulous place to be. Afghanistan on the other side of the valley, with snow covered mountains in Pakistan in the background ... 



... at homestay in Layangar in Tajikistan, back of beyond but a magical place ... I wish I could have photographed the millions of stars we saw in the clear night sky ...



... the border fence between Tajikistan and China ...



... deep sand ... deeply knackering ... for the bike and the rider!




... down town Murghab ... 




... small shopkeeper in Murghab




          ... Scott and Joe point out the picture of the President of Tajikistan 
above the front door to our hotel ... 



 ... yep, yaks ... by a frozen lake ...




... another high pass, 4655m, as we head towards 
the border with Kyrgyzstan




... big skies, long roads ...



... 2nd Album ...!



... yurts in Kyrgyzstan ...



... well wrapped up ... 



... thumbs up!



 ... Belgian cyclist, (we met him in a tunnel in Kyrgyzstan), plus his charity Bear ... 



... on his way home having already cycled 
through Iran and Tajikistan!




... in Kazakhstan, the storm clouds gather ...




... Tom Mouse hangs upside down in the cable car in the dynamic city of Almaty 




... Almaty has its own underground, modelled on the Moscow system, but has only one line and 9 stations ... still, rather beautiful and more like visiting an art gallery than a rail station




                ... the inspirational Doreen, 8 months in to cycling on her own from Singapore back home to The Netherlands ... 




... she makes our motorcycle adventure all seem a wee bit tame ...



... at the spectacular and windy Charyn Canyon, which is some 90km long, in Kazakhstan



... back in to Kyrgyzstan and alongside the magnificent Issyk Kul Lake (the world's 10th largest lake by volume and at over 2000 feet is the 7th deepest) ...




... the mountain road linking Kyrgyzstan to China's autonomous region of Xinjiang was the most beautiful and spectacular approach I have ever experienced when travelling from one country to another ... 




... it took 3 days before our motorcycles finally cleared customs and security at the border ...
... we were each issued with a driving licence ... mine apparently has me as female, which was to prove a wee bit confusing at security checks ...




... this is the Chinese number plate for my bike ... we only had to carry them in our pockets 





... we were able to stay in a hotel in Kashgar some 40 miles from the border, over the 3 days whilst our motorcycles and documentation was being processed ...
... where there was a wedding going on too! 




... the beautiful yet strangely quiet Muslim quarter in Kashgar ...





... dentist "shop" on the street in Kashgar ...




... antique shop in the Muslim quarter of Kashgar ...




... you don't see many bicycles nowadays in China, they seem to have all been traded in for electric scooters which whizz along silently, invariably with the rider on the phone! ...





... enthusiastic truck drivers ...






... with the owner of the best yaks milk cafe in Tibet ...






 ... the beautiful and religiously significant Mount Kailash (over 6,600m) ... a pilgrimage destination for four religions, Buddhism, Jainism, Bon and Hinduism ...  






... and similarly, Lake Manasarovar (one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world at over 4,500m) ... Four major Central Asian rivers have their source in the area; the Brahmaputra, the Indus, the Sutlej and the Ghaghara (a major tributary of the Ganges).





... this wee girl was helping out her dad who was the petrol pump attendant ...





... the team photograph at the start of the approach road to Mount Everest ...





... just a small section of the amazing approach road to Mount Everest
... over 40 miles of this all the way up to Base Camp!





... and great fun to ride ...




... team photo at a view point, with Mount Everest in the background ... still over 20 miles of twisty mountainous road to go!





Man and Mouse in perfect harmony ...





... motorcycle, prayer flags, Himalayas ...




... pannier + stickers, Tom Mouse, Mount Everest ...
... and a huge thank you to Avon Tyres and to NGK Spark Plugs




... prayer wheels at the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world (4980 m) near to Mount Everest





... a Scotsman in Tibet ...





... both Man and Mouse very happy, and feeling so privileged to have completed such a wonderful trip ...





... Tom Mouse at Mount Everest ... "I wonder where our next fantastic adventure will be?"

... please visit www.TomMouse.co.uk