Planning for six weeks of biking, hiking and mountaineering in a country you know nothing about is fun and interesting. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends who have been there - one of which is a Swedish adventurer who could be called the "dean" of velo mountaineering and Joe Cruz , Americain philosopher and mountain bike adventurer. Added to this is a large amount of material on the internet including detailed maps from the Soviet era and even a rough mountaineering guidebook online!! If I can learn a few Russian and local Kyrgyz phrases I am probably in a better position knowledge-wise than on most of my past trips.
On the floor of the living room lies a large mound of gear - which I have to half before departure. Velo mountaineering demands frugality -almost the opposite of big expedition mountaineering - weight and volume when you carry everything yourself is absolutely critical if you want to move at all, so it becomes a matter of eliminating every superfluous item and making even quite some cuts on what you think is necessary and carrying only what you really need!!
Finally a quick note in the photos below on those who sponsored me - in the past mainly but I am still using their product so let say they are withstanding the test of time.