The lands between Aktau and the Uzbek border are some of the sparsest on our trip, there are stretches of road more than 150 km without anywhere to fill up on water, whilst the midday heat is now peaking at sauna dry heat of 37 degrees. The sun-parched camel remains littering the road side are a testament to crossing these places without a combustion engine. We took note of this, Rob took the tent and I deployed my 10L silicon camel hump strapped to the back of my bike, at full capacity we can carry about 20L, lasting us about a full day.
To make the day's distance safely, we also had to drastically change our days away from society's convention to the 'bi-somnic-cycle 4-11' tactic: waking up to cycle at 4am until 11am, sleeping until 4pm and then cycling until 11pm. Under this regime we clocked a massive 250 km leg on an arrow straight road into Beyneu, this on a day including a 5-hour lunch and a puncture. Though this might have had more to do with Rob taking a short-lived vow of silence than anything else. It certainly stirred to a tense atmosphere, the pressure of which was unleashed in rather furious pedalling.
Cycling through this dotted-green desert landscape means the the mind folds your perspective into unorthodox positions. The perfectly smooth and seamless land stretches in 360 degrees to a perfect horizontal, a flat-earther's paradise. The conscious perspective seems abstracted, no longer foreground, hinterland, horizon and sky; but an immersive painting with canvas portioned into levels of colour.
In our usual habitats, our imagined selves work in routes and commutes, places in relation to another; here all to be perceived was a disc of land to traverse and live upon as we were. Chicken and egg apart, the land gifts you a nomadic perspective, that is alongside rampant thirst and aching thighs.