I’ve come a long way…

I have a lot more to say about the Qinghai Plateau and, well, everything (you should know me by now), but right now I can’t resist pointing you back to this post, written exactly a year ago, wherein I gripe characteristically about my To Do list and treat you to an uninspiring picture of all my shiny new kit – my virgin tyres and newly built wheels; “my clean new tent and as-yet-fragrant sleeping bag” – piled up in a corner of the dining room. Back then, I couldn’t wait to get out there and start wearing it all out.

And now?

Now my tyres look something like this, and are puncturing several times a week.

My wheels have held up wonderfully well for something produced by a nervous novice wheelbuilder, although I snapped the obligatory driveside spoke back in Murree, and had to be rescued by the heroes of the Pakistan National Cycling Team.

My tent is actually fairly clean at the moment, but only because I took it into the shower with me yesterday. And it has several holes in it.

My sleeping bag reeks gloriously of sweat, socks, farts and morning breath.

The beautiful shiny sprockets and chainrings I admired when I put the bike together are, as I happily predicted, now completely disfigured by all the grit, mud and snow I’ve ridden them through – no longer gleaming and lovely, as an early observer remarked.

My face is a mess of sunburn, wrinkles, zits and dry skin. I haven’t plucked my eyebrows for six months or shaved my armpits for over a year.

And, as I predicted, I’ve been having the time of my life.

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