Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It is hard believe that in just two months time we will be off on a grand adventure.  There seems to be so much that needs to get done before we can even consider leaving and fitting it all in is starting to make our heads hurt.

Kevin and I spent the last few days brain storming on ways to make this blog more handsome, trying on clothes and talking with a local bike shop about getting our bikes ready for the poor road conditions we are so excited to encounter.  We have also been retooling our original schedule for the trip in order to prepare our visa documents for each country.

Despite our best efforts the only things that Kevin and I seem to do when we get together is sit around a kitchen table and talk.  Yet when we are not meeting up, we are either doing full day alpine traverses or running marathon distances, just not together.  I suppose we will be bored of each others company soon enough, so it is best not start too early.

The visa requests will be sent off some time this week and with alot of luck we should get them back by the end of August. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Five Elements

The two team members of the Five Elements Expedition first met in October of 2009, while volunteering on the board of the Bow Valley Justice Film Festival. Casual conversations between Kevin and Chris soon unearthed a common theme of cycle touring. It was immediately evident that each of them held the same passion for traveling by bicycle and exploring mountainous regions. 

Over the next few months the casual conversations about past trips began to turn into questions about future trips and the two began to quietly talk about an expedition together. Fast forward to the present where the Five Elements Expedition was framed and conceived the prime desire to explore. The expedition takes its name from the classical elements of nature described in ancient Greek and Asian cultures.

The Five Elements team chose to travel by bicycle through Central Asia for several reasons. Being on a bicycle you have no choice but to experience the awesome power of nature, first hand. When you arrive at a village, there is no barrier between you and those who live there, you are constantly interacting. Everything from the terrain, road conditions to weather and the direction of the winds helps to create a greater understanding of the region you are traveling in. Perhaps the reason that we chose to travel by bicycle are that it offers us the most freedom, with no rigid schedules or designated routes to follow. Or was it the simple pleasure of living in a tent for three months? 

Kevin and Chris are both very excited to have the chance to be cycling in the mountains of Central Asia once again. The alpine-like regions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan maintain a strong heritage of nomadic culture where three generations of a family can still be found living together within a small yurt and herding their animals during the summer months. These mountainous areas with their rutted and washed out roads prove time and again to be a continual wellspring of hospitality, where a stranger will be invited in for chai and bread. These areas also provide a stunning backdrop to the legacy of Soviet history, where remote artillery bunkers can still be found. Stories can be heard from villagers, who barely survived vicious civil wars lasting years and where larger than life statues of Lenin that still stand in the town centers. Here, Central Asia still offers remote areas where the roads are certain to be washed out and deeply rutted and where days of cycling are required to reach the next settlement.

Each member of the team has personal reasons for wanting to be part of the expedition and to ride the ancient Silk Road routes that criss-crossed Central Asia. Some of the more closely held desires for wanting to cycle in these mountainous countries are the challenges that nature offers and equally important are those challenges that need to be examined within ourselves. After cycling for five to ten hours a day, for weeks on end, it becomes increasingly hard to hide from one's self. Eventually the long stretches of open road present the opportunity for plenty of self-refection and introspection. There is also the satisfaction of living simply, knowing that the bicycle holds everything one needs for the next three months. 

We chose the name of our journey, Five Elements Expeditions from the team's desire to connect or perhaps reconnect with the concept of the five classical elements of nature, as described by early Greek philosophers, such as Plato and others, over 24 centuries ago. Early Babylonian, Chinese, Hindu and Buddhist cultures also shared similar classical elements. We feel these ancient elements can be clearly expressed in the simple joys of dealing with the rawness of the environment, of cycling up a pass in the snow, cooking food over a dung fire, drinking from clean mountain streams and waking up in a tent to a silent world tucked deep in the mountains.

We hope that you enjoy this blog and that somehow we can inspire you to explore your own world as well.