Deadly treadly

Comment News (Gosnells) - - News - Jes­sica Nico

Dar­ling Downs cy­clists nar­rowly avoid dan­ger in Ta­jik­istan.

IT was not un­til they were safely back in their Dar­ling Downs home that Peter Cap­pen­dell and his daugh­ter Jes­sica re­alised just how close they had come to dan­ger.

The avid long dis­tance cy­clists en­joy tak­ing their bikes on multi-day treks across chal­leng­ing ter­rain, such as last year’s 1500km un­sup­ported ride from Uluru to Kal­go­or­lie along the Great Cen­tral Road.

Last month, they went in­ter­na­tional as they tack­led Ta­jik­istan’s Pamir High­way, the se­cond high­est road in the world, more than 4600m above sea level.

Mr Cap­pen­dell said the gru­elling 21-day cy­cle had been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We wanted to build on the suc­cess of last year and chal­lenge our­selves a bit more with moun­tains and see an­other cul­ture,” he said.

“Rough roads, days off due to stom­ach prob­lems, 40 de­gree heat in the low lands, head winds on the 4000m plateaux and the al­ti­tude made the trip an en­durance test, but the ef­fort was worth it.”

Just a day af­ter they re­turned home, the fam­ily was rocked by news a car had de­lib­er­ately ploughed through seven cy­clists rid­ing on the Pamir High­way, killing four. Ter­ror­ist group ISIS soon took own­er­ship of the at­tack.

Mr Cap­pen­dell said they had been wary of some­thing hap­pen­ing be­cause of their prox­im­ity to Afghanistan, but news of the at­tack shocked them.

“Although there have been no re­ported at­tacks on tourists in Ta­jik­istan, due to its prox­im­ity to Afghanistan, we were very aware there was a risk of be­ing in­volved in the first,” he said.

“We first heard of the at­tack the day af­ter our re­turn to Perth on a Face­book page ded­i­cated to cy­clists trav­el­ling through the Pamir moun­tains.

“It was first re­ported that cy­clists had been in­volved in a hit and run ac­ci­dent, then wit­nesses started to re­port cy­clists be­ing killed by knife as they lay in­jured on the road.

“I think it will de­ter many new tourists how­ever I don’t think it will de­ter cy­cle tourists; many of the cy­clists we met were on multi-coun­try ex­tended tours and are there­fore al­ready fa­mil­iar with the risks of trav­el­ling through Cen­tral Asia and beyond.”

Mr Cap­pen­dell said they had not been de­terred by the at­tack and were al­ready plan­ning their next ad­ven­ture: a cy­cle across the Sa­hara Desert.

Jes­sica and Peter Cap­pen­dell cy­cling the Pamir High­way in Ta­jik­istan.

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