The price of progress: Riding the Silk Road before it changes forever.

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While China’s observation of its neighbours is nothing new, its plans for this sleepy little undeveloped country are.

In the preceding centuries, passage through this area was a central part of the important Silk Road trading route, connecting the East and the West. The Chinese government’s 21st-century ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is fundamentally a reinvigoration of this traditional trading route, with significant development slated for Eastern Europe, Africa, and Central Asia.

Spanning four continents and at a cost of over $1 trillion, it is the largest infrastructure project in history.

And as we’d learn, the impact on Kyrgyzstan would be much, much greater than simply a new road.

Video Player
Rewind a half-dozen months.

Sitting in the office one mundane weekday, I received a strikingly similar email to the one that my mate Shannon from Serk Cycling had sent which sparked an adventure that saw us riding up to Mount Everest base camp. He’d included a link to a proposed bike-packing race in the ‘Stans, with a note along the lines of “Let’s get here before this place becomes a superhighway”. The video became my daily escape, with each viewing stirring an incredible wanderlust for this central Asian wild west.

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