The distances are huge and population is sparse, the temperatures fluctuate between scorching heat and bitter cold, roads range from Swiss-style to shit-style, the elevations in the mountains can be terrifying and drivers are reckless and possibly drunk. That is, in a nutshell, cycling the Silk Road.
Of course, there are also numerous highlights: the landscapes, the people you meet, and of course the satisfaction of making it across the Eurasian landmass on your own pedal power.
Have a look at the list of bike shops in Central Asia.
Where to cycle
A small, general overview of the different countries and the possibilities they offer for cycle touring. For more, click the links.
Kazakhstan: The vast desert and steppe flatlands of Kazakhstan offer little in terms of visual stimulation and should only be attempted by the hardiest and most mentally stable of cyclists. Having said this, there are some more enjoyable cycling opportunities in certain pockets of the country, notably the south and southeast. It also has the best roads in the region.
Uzbekistan: Apart from the desert in the west of Uzbekistan which holds some world-class sights, most important places are within easy riding distance in the east of Uzbekistan. It is the best place to meet many local people and get a taste of the medieval Silk Road atmosphere.
Kyrgyzstan: A beautiful country for cycling with a decent-enough infrastructure, which means it attracts more cyclists than any other country. The calf-exploding steepness of the mountains requires a good preparation.
Tajikistan: Cycle touring the Roof of the World is tough. It’s also just a special feeling cycling here, so do take this lonely journey over some of the most remote mountain passes in the world. Getting more popular every year!
Turkmenistan: Since a transit visa only lasts for 5 days, Turkmenistan is a country you can only hurry through as a cycle tourist.
Afghanistan: Don’t cycle here!
There is a lot more to say on this subject, and we hope to deliver an extensive guide to cycling in Central Asia at one point. For now, you can enjoy reading some personal experiences from other cyclists.