James didn't speak much, or maybe it was just my feelings, which didn't correspond to reality. He had just arrived after long flights, and I felt my English skills were lacking. He had a whole race ahead of him, and I had to get back to everyday life in a couple of days. We were free to escape to Juku Pass, but each of us was limited by our own realities and personal needs. James is not a tourist in the classic sense, and participating in bikepacking races is his main job. I, for my part, was immersed in thoughts of those back home in Bishkek. On the second day, during lunch break, we recorded a spontaneous video "5 Tips for SRMR success".
I wanted to get to the upper lake, and as is often the case, I was very hesitant about whether I could do that. We planned to get to the lower, smaller lake, camp there, and hike up to the big upper lake.
For an amateur, such trips are of great interest, because you find yourself in the company of an ultra-distance champion, from whom you can learn certain skills and knowledge and talk about that. James has podiums in top ultra races (Transcontinental, Highland Trail 550, Italy Divide, Atlas Mountain Race, and our Silk Road Mountain Race) I'll be honest, I didn't bother with it, I tried to keep up with him, and James was relaxed and riding just my pace. We were tourists after all and enjoyed it. At the camp, James would eat dehydrated vacuum-packed food, and I would eat a similar sort of packed meal, but precooked. I noticed that James would transfer dry oats from one package to another, empty and smaller, pour honey and water over it, and set it aside overnight. This was his way of making himself breakfast after dinner for the next day.
I left James early in the morning at the upper lake on August 7th.
- I need your luck,- he talked to me out of his tent.
I only nodded my head in response.
"Good luck James! This is what I should have said to you" - I wrote to him later in a message upon my arrival in Bishkek, when James went online in the town of Karakol.
In the last story on his website, James mentioned me, calling me his friend. I'm pleased to hear that. The three days I spent with James in Kyrgyzstan will remain a part of my life and a warm memory. James and I spent a wonderful time in places where we don't have to talk much, often it is difficult to talk at altitudes of 3000 meters or more.
These places are appealing in their silence and welcoming to a lonely stranger.