The Not Knowing
“Peter always has a great sense of adventure. And the moment he said Tajikistan, I straight away said “ok cool, let’s go”. I had no idea what we were going to do… but in a way that’s what drew me to the experience. It was the not knowing.” ~ Christian Meier, former professional racer and founder of The Service Course
Tajikistan. It’s wild. It’s remote. It’s unforgiving. It’s out there.
Over eight days of breathtaking riding and spectacular scenery, we follow Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill of The Service Course on their adventure through Tajikistan, weaving through the Wakhan Valley, over the Khargush Pass, along the Pamir Highway, into the Bartang Valley and beyond. A journey into the unknown, and one that will live long in the memory. As a result, The Service Course will be hosting its inaugural Tajikistan Gravel Tour in June 2020, limited to six adventurous participants.
“I think we get too comfortable in the way we live. We need to break that mould every now and then, and see that there are other ways of living. We need to see these parts of the world a little outside of our comfort zone.” ~ Peter Gaskill, The Service Course
The roads of Tajikistan are known for the ancient silk trade, but for Christian and Peter, this trip was about trading comfort for experience. Christian Meier has professionally raced bicycles all over the world. Peter Gaskill is an avid rider and works as a guide in Europe’s most coveted cycling locations for a good portion of the year. For two people who literally make their living riding some of the world’s most beautiful roads, what does extraordinary look like?
Enter Tajikistan, this often-overlooked corner of central Asia separated from the northern border of Afghanistan only by a river. The diversity of landscapes alone is enough to overwhelm. Limitless skies rise above snow-dusted summits, parted by valleys lined with dusty roads that unfurl like the silk strands once traded there. All of it, for Christian and Peter, is unknown. It’s this not knowing that epitomises adventure, and it’s adventure that embodies escape, freedom, discovery.
In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a source of cultural trade for the many civilizations touched by its trajectory. Everything the silk trade was and represented has long since been replaced, but the cultural trade remains wholly intact in the kindness of the Tajiki people, the overwhelming landscape-gifts, and the camaraderie its gravel roads provide for those riding them together.
Tajikstan Gravel Tour
An adventure experience hosted by The Service Course ~ June 2020
Let’s be clear right up front: this is a tough trip, and not only because of the challenges presented by the riding. The Pamir Mountains have a well-founded reputation for incredible scenery, but also for incredible hardship. If you are looking for a simultaneously challenging and rewarding experience, this trip will deliver in spades.
This is our inaugural trip through the spectacular Pamir Mountains from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to the ancient city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. We will follow the most remote and challenging portion of the ancient Silk Route, that which 13th century explorer Marco Polo followed. Among courageous travellers, this route has become one of the most sought-after destinations for its vast landscapes, rugged beauty and traditional culture of the Pamiri people.
This experience is for adventure-seekers who are not afraid of a trip largely without electricity, running water and comfortable beds, in an environment of dramatic weather and difficult riding at extreme elevation. At best, the roads are fractured asphalt, paved decades ago when the region was part of the Soviet Union. At their worst, they are loose, washboard gravel. Most of the riding is done at elevations between 3,500m and 4,600m without much time for acclimatisation.