Nov 19 2016

“And tomorrow at dawn we ride west and take …”

It almost sounded like Gandalf the wizard his wise words in Lord of the Rings. Only this time it was overheard during a Friday evening beer-infusion session at O’Neills on what became to be a memorable session.

Dropping into the bar straight from the office the conversations started quite sober around how there was no intention to ride on Saturday as the weather and riding conditions were promising not be be favorable in the steppe with snow cover tracks and underneath perhaps some mud, while at the same time the river surface is still in liquid form.

And then 5 or 6 large beers later Andrew popped above words, which sounded quite wise by this time.

Another couple of beers late, O’Neills was getting empty again, 3 souls thought it was a brilliant plan to ride out to LJ in the morning and were verbally committed.

Come the next morning, a fourth soul -uninitiated in the rituals of winter riding- happily announced to join.

Three set off from ZK bridge with a blue sky emerging against a nice sun, while one had to fiddle with an inner valve causing low (no?!) rear tyre pressure, most likely due to too much princess-chasing indoors.

the group was sliding all over the place and occasionally experienced a happy face plant in the snow. Andrew believe this was due to too high pressure in his rear tyre, so he wanted to let some out. However the whole inner valve got loose and shot out into the snow. It was miraculously recovered and so the ride continued.

Heart-rates were sky-high, speeds was superslow, smiles were big.

A strong finish and farewell to Andrew was well deserved thereafter.

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Nov 18 2016

Indoors riding aka “Princess Chasers”

Not all of us Atyrau Outdoors riders appear over the moon with joy for the prospect of riding in the middle of the winter on frozen rivers with ferocious winds at silly low temperatures. While it has not exactly been figured out as to why that wouldn’t be fun, some of us have accommodated to riding indoors. That requires home trainers.

For the modern and advanced home trainers that unlocks the possibility of using training simulator software.

This spring an article on was proposed for publishing on a Turkish blog:

The Kazakh Kickr.

So you live in the dusty town of Atyrau, situated in the steppe on the western side of Kazakhstan on the flanks of the Ural river. The summers are long, very warm and very dry. The winters are also long and very cold and windy.
The only constants are the knowledge that the sun will shine and the skies will be cloudless.
This makes excellent conditions for biking in the flat steppe on mountainbikes if you take adequate precautions. This forms the basic ingredients of

But ooohhh dear, there we have an El Nino winter, messing up our outdoors cycling plans: winter weather becomes much warmer with much more precipitation and riding on a frozen river is all of a sudden much more dangerous. And with spring arriving Mr. Nino turns the steppe into sticky mud, making the steppe physically uncyclable.

What now? Lucky that the internet works and that Smart Trainers have seen the light. And so the first Wahoo Kickrs have trickled into Atyrau and sparked the start of an AtyrauIndoors community.
Removing the rearwheel from your mountain or road bike allows you to mount it directly onto the kickr. The rearwheel is now is a softhumming big heavy piece of metal, controlled for resistance by a magnet. It wirelessly talks Bluetooth and ANT+, so throw a laptop in front of the bike, connect it to a big screen and connect it via a USB ANT+ dongle to the kickr. Voila, you can now ride indoors on those same tracks that make you sweat and taste the dust on a nice summer morning. On the computer you can run training software such as Zwift or bkool, monitor power, heartrate, cadence, speed and virtually ride against the competition and track your progress over time. Resistance control for surface type and gradient is done automatically and gives a very realistic feel and increases the “fun factor.”

Beware, take enough hydration with you on your virtual ride, as you soon find out that hunting the princess indoors on the Kickr with your competitors is very addictive!

By Casper –

Some of our former hardcore outdoors riders -and that meant riding ALWAYS outside- have mumbled over a couple of beers some disparagingly remarks around childrens xbox gaming and chasing non-existent worlds. Mixed with the sight of modern, springy full-suspension bikes, painted in frog-like colours, it does not take much imagination to land on the term “princess chaser”.

In order to provide a little extra emotional support for this “most deadly boring” of activities, the one and only real AO Princess Chaser has been created on bkool.

Princess Chaser on bkool

Princess Chaser on bkool

This is a filmed route in HD that starts at LJ, follows Lada Brick road, then via HB back to LJ and back to Canal Levee.
It totals 21 km or so and is now availble to anyone riding with bkool indoors.

That has not gone unnoticed since its publishing last week amongst the “adventurous” bkoolers, and currently over a 100 total strangers have flown through our steppe virtually, with some bloke thrashing our record times and making us look like potatoes riding bikes with square wheels!
Even during a simple try-out run yesterday evening around 10 folk joined the virtual video-ed ride through the steppe.

Chasing the Princess

Chasing the Princess

An Atyrau Indoors group exists on WhatsApp for those trying to organize for multiple riders to join in the same virtual session.

On bkool there is an AtyrauIndoors bkool group with a couple of AO members.

Home trainer considerations

For those considering home-training in advanced mode, read on about all the applications that can be used for this.

Wahoo have a nice listing of apps.

A very good independent reviewer DCrainmaker has an excellent overview of choices available for this winter.


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Oct 01 2016

2016 Centuri-run “Really Gone Bananas”

Like an itch that was not scratched. At least to those who could not make it last week it felt that way.

Why not ride and re-ride, re-enjoy the track along such a long stretch of water and further en-grain it into our memories and into the internal memory of our better-trusted Garmin devices?

There was enough appetite with  a number of people joining who where unable last week and another few brave souls who where in for riding it again.

Mild winds, fresh and chilly, down to nearly 0C, it was promised to be. And chilly it was: Various cold extremities ensured no suppleness was achieved for at least the first hour or so.

As the morning progressed temperatures rose and the sun came out.

Some of us were able to bring the joy of the “in-ride experience” to a whole new level with cigars and beer en-route. Maybe this should become standard issue for all AO riders?!

Other were living new fantasies doing a small catwalk along bra-brothel tree.

Lastly we had the pleasure of guiding a rogue returning visitor longing for his old steed, who just can’t get enough of the Atyrau steppe as opposed to the Houston circus.

A joy it was again with another strong finish at Dostyk!

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Sep 25 2016

2016 Centurion “Gone Bananas”

With a relative short-notice announcement over our WhatsApp group, the decision was taken to ride the big annual Centurion ride last weekend. Most riders that were around had been riding fairly regularly and/or knew what they were getting themselves into.

The weekend before had seen a small group explore some new tracks to create a new route: “wouldn’t it be nice to ride along water for a long stretch?” Some pouring over the map time revealed that the canal that we cross at Zen Pond and Horses Bath comes from the north and joins the Ural somewhere north of Almaly. So it seemed a nice route to simply ride to the canal, follow it northbound and about 10 km’s north of Almaly hit the Ural river and ride back down to Atyrau along the river. The course that was plotted made just over 100 km’s.

Two groups were established, one normal one, to ride at a normal pace, and a smaller, less normal one that wanted to ride a bit faster.

Some rain was forecasted in the afternoon, and some headwind on the way back. While we could see the rainclouds form at the steppe horizons, they never even came close to us. The sun even showed itself later in the morning and early afternoon.

So did the wind, living up to its promise of making up the one and only predictable constant in Atyrau.

After some early fat bike tyre issues both groups rode on with no issues other than the occasional close encounter with some sand.

It was a great ride and both groups came out unscathed, leaving plenty of time for a swim at Dostyk and a well deserved strong finish!

It appears that Atyrau does have a mountain to descend from then after all:


Fransesco shot some very nice footage in-ride and turned it into a lovely summary




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Sep 18 2016

Arrival of ‘sweet autumn’

Colours are getting more saturated in the steppe, wind is picking up more regularly. No nasties are biting at us during riding and patches of soft sand boost our heartrates and deflate our morale a touch. Mix this in with morning temperatures that drop well below 10C and all the signs of autumn appear to be there.

Some lovely recent rides, were care is again taken for choosing riding direction based on wind strength and direction. the idea is: ride out into the wind, and back with the wind. In practice it usually turns out as ride out into the wind, ride back into as well….

None the less we continue to ride, and good rides we have seen again.

Saturday saw some folk explore the entire length of the side canal of the Ural northbound towards the point were it intersects with the Ural around 40km north of Atyrau. New very sweet trails along canal and river were successfully mapped and tested and have been dubbed “Gone Bananas”. This full new loop makes for Centurion (100km+) distance riding. With three starters and finishers this ride made it into the big rides hall of fame.

Others in the meantime rode Pete’s with some extension to HB and ZP and were nicely blown back to Levee Junction from Pete’s.

With a beautiful sunrise on Sunday a group headed dead west into the wind to ride the “lala Lada brick road” towards Zhaks fall, whereafter they had a sweet tailwind blow them back to town for the call of the Krushka.
Two brave souls diverted to explore and map possible Centurion track westbound; they may still be en-route as this hits the binary world.

Saturday and Sunday ride photos


Saturday Gone Bananas

Sunday Lada Brick Road

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