Pamir Highway

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D.: Summer 2019

Countries Visited:

  • Bulgaria
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

Historic Landmarks

  • Alexandria Eschate, Tajikistan
  • Alexandria in Margiana (Merv), Turkmenistan

3/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 18.000 km

40 Riding Days

Middle June – Middle August

Intermediate Skills Level

20% Offroad

Hotels, Hostels and (1) Camping

FAQ

Packing List

Rent A Ride

Service

Brochure (coming soon)

Geography

The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia, at the junction of the Himalayas with the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, Hindu Kush, Suleman, and Hindu Raj ranges. Tajikistan is home to some of the highest mountains in the world, including the Pamir and Alay ranges. 93% of Tajikistan is mountainous with altitudes ranging from 300 m (980 ft) to almost 7,500 m (24,600 ft), and nearly 50% of Tajikistan’s territory is above 3,000 m (9,800 ft).

The massive mountain ranges are cut by hundreds of canyons and gorges at the bottom of which run streams that flow into larger river valleys where the majority of the country’s population lives and works. The Pamirs in particular are heavily glaciated, and Tajikistan is home to the largest non-polar glacier in the world, the Fedchenko Glacier.

The Pamir Mountains lie mostly in the Gorno-Badakhshan province of Tajikistan. To the north, they join the Tian Shan mountains along the Alay Valley of Kyrgyzstan. To the south, they border the Hindu Kush mountains along Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. To the east, they extend to the range that includes China’s Kongur Tagh, in the “Eastern Pamirs”, separated by the Yarkand valley from the Kunlun Mountains.

The snowcapped peaks of the Xinjiang Pamir Mountains rise above the Bulunkou River south of Kashgar, China.

The Pamir Highway captivating route was once part of the historic Silk Road. The M41, known informally and more commonly as the Pamir Highway (Russian: “Pamirsky Trakt”, Памирский тракт) is a road traversing the Pamir Mountains through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. It is the only continuous route through the difficult terrain of the mountains and serves as the main supply route to Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. The route has been in use for millennia, as there are a limited number of viable routes through the high Pamir Mountains. The road formed one link of the ancient Silk Road trade route. M41 is the Soviet road number, but no road number is generally signposted along the road today, only destinations.

Khargush-Lake in Tajikistan (photo by Giannis Marousakis)

The Pamir Highway is one of the world’s greatest road trips and is known as the second highest altitude international highway in the world (4,655 m).

Pamir Highway route through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan

The Pamir Highway is part of the M41 highway, which starts at Termiz (37°12′39″N 67°16′20″E) and ends at Kara-Balta (42°49′40″N 73°52′53″E) to the west of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The route is turning east and crossing into Tajikistan. It then follows a general eastward route through Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to Khorog, crossing the Kafirnigan, Vakhsh, and Bartang Rivers. From there, it continues east for about 310 kilometers to Murghab, where it crosses the Murghab River. The highway then passes through the 4,655-meter (15,270 ft) high Ak-Baital Pass and past Lake Karakul before crossing into Kyrgyzstan to its terminus in Osh. The stretch of road between Khorog and Osh attracts a small amount of tourism due to its rugged natural beauty.


Historic Landmarks

Alexandria Eschate, modern Khojand in Tajikistan (N40° 17.097′ E69° 37.108′)

Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata (Greek Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη), literally “Alexandria the Farthest”, was a city founded by Alexander the Great, at the south-western end of the Fergana Valley (modern Tajikistan) in August 329 BCE. It was the most northerly outpost of the Greek Empire in Central Asia. Alexandria Eschate was established on the south bank of the river Jaxartes (Syr Darya), at or close to the site of modern Khujand. According to the Roman writer Curtius, Alexandria Ultima retained its Hellenistic culture as late as 30 BCE.

Alexandria Eschate was the Northernmost outpost of the Greek Empire in Central Asia

Of the many cities founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria Eschatê was probably the one that created most problems. From the very beginning, there were troubles; and this must have surprised Alexander, because the march to the river Jaxartes, in the early summer of 329, had been easy. The last resistance to his rule had vanished after his friend Ptolemy had captured the Persian leader, Bessus.

Now, he wanted to build a city on the bank of the river that was the boundary between Sogdia and the Hunger Steppe, which was inhabited by the Sacae. It was to replace an older city, which is called Kyreschata in the Greek sources and must render Persian Kuruškatha (‘town of Cyrus’). It was to be an important site because on the one hand, it was to be the empire’s northernmost military base, and a defense against the Sacan tribesmen, and on the other hand, it could be a base for a return to the west across the plains of Ukraine. The city also controlled the route to the lush Fergana Valley, where a road across the Pamir Range led to China. Probably, the Macedonians also wanted some rest after a war that had lasted five years.

Alexander was unaware of the subtle balance that in Sogdia existed between the nomads and the town dwellers. In southern Bactria, there were some well-established cities; in Sogdia, towns like Maracanda (Samarkand) and Nautaca coexisted with the nomads; but beyond the Jaxartes, nomads did not appreciate urban life. The Ma Saka (or Massagetes, as the Greeks called them) and Apa Saka (Abian Scythians) felt threatened and sent ambassadors; but the Sogdians near the new town choose not to negotiate and killed some Macedonian soldiers.

Alexander immediately retaliated and destroyed seven settlements in the neighborhood. The populations were deported and put to work, building the new city with a wall of 6 km length. Together with invalid Macedonians and Greek mercenaries, they were to be the new inhabitants of Alexandria. The remains of its walls and a couple of Hellenistic sherds have been found near modern Khodzent, but not much else has been excavated.

A fter defeating the Saka and a guerilla war, in which Alexander defeated Spitamenes, rest returned to Sogdia, although it was the rest of a graveyard, and new insurrections were to follow soon. Still, the city continued to exist and maintained close ties to the Seleucid Empire and its local successors, the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom and the Parthian Empire.

The city also also was part of the Silk road, which connected China with the Mediterranean. This also meant that the eastern frontier was open to invaders, and it appears that in the second century, Yuezhi nomads invaded Sogdia from Xinjiang. They took over the region, but it seems that the city retained some of its Greek character, if we are to believe the Roman author Curtius Rufus. The city is still mentioned as an important center by the seventh-century Chinese traveler Xuan Zang.

Nikon D850 DSLR

I have been a Nikon user for the last 15 years, always using professional-grade SLR/DSLR like the Nikon F100, Nikon D200, and Nikon D300s. The reason for this is that my working environment is always full of dust, mud, moisture, and rain. All my camera gear is inside tank bags and panniers bouncing around. So heavy duty construction and weather resistance are an absolute necessity. Endurance is my number one priority!

In 2017 I decided that is it was about time to upgrade my aging camera gear, but since I wanted to upgrade everything, lenses included, it was a perfect timing to look at all possibilities. The only serious contenders, that would endure my usage and offer professional-grade performance are Nikon, Canon, and Sony. The last was quickly rejected when I watched some rain-resistance tests between the three brands and Sony fails miserably. I also disliked the feeling when I picked the Sony Alpha a7R III in my hands. it is a baby-sized body, not suitable for users with large hands.

Adventure photography in FX quality!

I also rejected the Nikon D5 and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II because of their steep price tag. They both fulfill all possible technical requirements but are too expensive to throw around in a tail bag. This left me with three choices: The Nikon D500, the Nikon D810, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. It was a tough call since I had to choose between the better sports camera that is lacking in landscape photography versus the full frame beasts with limited features as sports cameras. Thankfully this back and forth gave Nikon enough time to introduce the 45,7 million pixel FX Titan Nikon D850 (CMOS 35,9 mm x 23,9 mm) !!

There is nothing that this beast will not do!

The Nikon D850 is a professional-grade full-frame digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) produced by Nikon. The camera was officially announced on July 25, 2017 (the 100th anniversary of Nikon’s founding) and is the successor to the Nikon D810. This 45.4 MP sensor beast was awarded best Professional DSLR camera at the 2018 TIPA World Awards and is the first DSLR camera to achieve 100 points on the DxOMark sensor review. Last, the D850 won Camera Grand Prix Readers Award and Editors Award in 2018.

Image quality is beyond any criticism, so is file size if you need to print or crop. The D850 is so radical because it is the first large megapixel full frame camera that can be used as an action/sports camera at the same time!

7 fps are more than enough when you shot adventure motorcycles, but you can go all the way up to 9 fps if you add the Nikon MB-D18 grip and the special Nikon EN- EL18b battery (plus the regular battery in the body). That is D500 speed with more than twice the file size! That is ridiculously awesome and it is incredible how much can you crop and still get stunning image quality.

Original D850 8256×5504 frame

Incredible detail at such a huge crop

Image Quality

The D850’s crowning achievement is its images. Nikon has once again outdone themselves with an incredible sensor. They have designed both the sensor and the data processing software/firmware behind it. At ISO 64, the Back Side Illuminated sensor just about matches current medium format digital cameras, with crazy 45-megapixel files and insane dynamic range. At higher ISOs, the D850 offers slightly improved shadow recovery and slightly better overall dynamic range compared to the D810.

At ISO 2500 you can remove all signs of noise in Lightroom in 2 sec

Body Size & Handling

Picking up the D850, you started to realize that this camera feels “old school”. It is physically a beast, a heavy magnesium block and feels like a Pro camera should. You know that it will take everything you throw at it and survive. No worries at all. The only issue you might have is that it requires XL/2X glove-size hands to operate with ease since the buttons are widely spread across its huge back.

 

Image quality without compromises

 

The Nikon D850 is the DSLR that I would trust at a Mongolian Expedition or in a cold winter mt Olympus Tour.

Visit Nikon for more

Our Team

We are Mythical Routes, an Adventure Motorcycle Tour Operator, located in Glyfada/Athens, Greece. We are organizing motorcycle Expeditions that connect the most important archeological sites with each-other, giving emphasis on the riding experience. Our Adventures are gravel oriented on large displacement motorcycles and showcase the beauty and the hidden historical facts of the Ancient Hellenic World with the broader geographical meaning of the term.

Our belief is that only when you ride with a local you can see the true face of this country

In our Expeditions, you are always accompanied by one of our highly skilled Tour Guides and can be provided with a 4×4 Support Vehicle if required. When you visit Greece without your motorcycle, you can always Rent A Ride from us, fully prepared with everything needed to join our Mythical Expeditions.

 

FOUNDERS and tour LEADERS

Angelo Baltoyannis | MSc Architect, Urban Planner and Tour Leader (CEO)

Angelo has studied Architecture in Rome, Italy (Sapienza Università) and graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the National Technical University of Greece (NTUA). He has done postgraduate studies in Planning and Bioclimatic Architecture. Since 2003 he was professionally engaged in many established architectural/construction offices and in 2010 he co-founded ArchiCulture, an architectural office in Glyfada, Greece.
Alongside with his work, the passion for the adventure and motorcycling has been constant for the last 20 years. He has traveled all around Europe, participated in many national Trail Rides and co-hosted multiple non-profit Adventure and Off-road rides, like the March Moto Madness Worldwide Adventure Rally Greece and the Adventure Rider Rally Greece.
Last, from 2016 he is a KLiM & Enduristan Ambassador and being very passionate about adventure motorcycles, is engaged as an Adventure Event Planner and Historical Tour Guide for Mythical Routes.

Read more about the life and work of Angelo here

Paris Baltoyannis | Landscape Architect and Tour Leader (CFO)

Paris graduated from the Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, Greece (TEI of Epirus) as a Landscape Architect and from the Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece (TEI of Athens) as an Interior Designer. He has done postgraduate studies in the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin, Italy in Decoration and Scenography. In 2004-2005 he was occupied in the Environmental Administration of Municipality of Voula, Greece and then co-founded ArchiCulture in Glyfada, Greece.
Alongside with his work, the passion for the adventure and motorcycling has been constant for the last 15 years. He has traveled in many countries, participated in many national Trail Rides and co-hosted multiple non-profit Adventure and Off-road rides, like the March Moto Madness Worldwide Adventure Rally Greece and the Adventure Rider Rally Greece.
Last, from 2016 he is a KLiM & Enduristan Ambassador and being very passionate about adventure motorcycles, is engaged as an Adventure Event Planner and Off-Road Tour Guide for Mythical Routes.

Read more about the life and work of Paris here

tour guides and Staff

Vasilis Boudros | BMW Motorrad Instructor (IIA) and Tour Guide

Vasilis is serious Rally Expert with many National and Balkan Rally wins in the last decade. He is also a serious enduro rider, always searching for new trails and owner of the Enduro Training and Touring company Enduro Greece.

In 2019 Vasilis got an official partnership with BMW Motorrad Hellas and is an official BMW Motorrad Academy (IIA) Instructor and part of our New Riders training program. This way we can train any newcomer to the adventure motorcycle community and guarantee that he has obtained all the basic necessary skills to participate in our Adventure Tours.

A small CV or Vasilis Rallie Racing past is:

• 2008 First participation in “National Rallye Racing”
• 2009 Winner of the “National Championship Rallye Racing” (Enduro)
• 2009 Winner of the Balkan Marathon Rallye (Open)
• 2010 Winner of the “National Championship Rallye Racing” (Open)
• 2010 Winner of the ΑΤΤΙΚΑ Enduro
• 2010 Participation in the Ε2 category of the Panhellenic Enduro Championship • 2010 Participation in Ertzberg rodeo
• 2011 Winner of the Serres Rallye (M1)
• 2011 Participation in the RED BULL Donkey cross Makrynitsa Pillion
• 2012 Winner of the Rallye Raid HELLAS EVIA
• 2012 Participation in the Rallye Albania
• 2012 Southern Greece Enduro Championship
• 2012 Co-instructor in the riding school “Ride-it”
• 2013 Winner of the Hellas Rally Nafpaktos
• 2014 Participation in the GGN Sweden
• 2015 Participation in the Greek Enduro Championship – Category E2
• 2017 Ranked 2nd overall in the Albania Rally
• 2017 Ranked 6th overall in Baja Germany

Konstantinos Tsigaras | Interior Design Architect and Tour Guide

Konstantinos has studied interior architecture and graphics design at the Middlesex University and is currently working in the field of consulting and real estate. Konstantinos is a real motorcycle enthusiast and has worked as a tour guide assistant for Most Wanted Warehouse | Klim Greece for the last four years.

He is a communications asset, speaking Czech, English, Greek and Russian and is always willing to help in any way. He is definitely an indispensable part of any motorcycle adventure.

You can check out his LinkedIn profile here

Ioanna Biziota | MSc Psychologist and Communications Manager

Ioanna studied psychology at Bedfordshire University and completed a Masters Degree in the Metropolitan University of London. She obtained a certificate of professional competence in 2003 and since then she has worked for several multinational companies in Greece in the department of communications and public relations.

From 2016 she has been actively involved to the KMOP “Live Without Bullying” project that aims at preventing and combating school and cyberbullying.

From 2018 Ioanna has been a great contributor to our team, undertaking the task of communications, since we are spending more and more time freeriding the mountains of Greece.

You can check out her web page here

Thanasis Giortsios | Safety Expert and Support 4×4

Thanasis is our Safety Expert and 4×4 support vehicle driver and is always on our side when vehicle support is required. His long experience in 4×4s and cheerful character make his an indispensable part of longer expeditions.

Thanassis is also responsible for all camp-preparations. Builds the fire, secures the tents and preps the dinner. His skills do not end there! He is an enthusiast photographer as well, always willing to try something new just for that killer shot.

You can check his Instagram page here

 

Scientific Contributors

George Baltoyannis | Architect, Researcher and Historical Author

cv_georgeGeorge studied and graduated in the faculty of Architecture in Rome, Italy (Sapienza Università) and took part in many exhibitions (Margutta – San Luca – Artecom – Palazzo Delle Esposizioni etc.). He returned to Athens in 1970 and dealt with architecture as a freelancer and at the same time as an employee in succession at the Greek Ministry of Defense (Pentagon), National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the Autonomous Building Officers Organization (AOOA).

With more than 30 years of Historical research on the relation between Ancient Architecture and Ancient Religion, George is the writer of the Best Seller books:

  • Dionysus Revelation (ed. Aldebaran – Athens 1997)
  • Acropolis through the blue eyes of the goddess Athena (ed. Aldebaran – Athens 1998)
  • Sacred Architecture (ed. Esoptron – Athens 2002)
  • Holy Sacramental Journey to Greece (ed. Esoptron – Athens 2005)
  • Sacred Astronomy (ed. Esoptron – Athens 2008)

Read more about the life and work of George here

Stavros Triantafyllidis | Dr. Geologist and Lecturer at the NTUA University

cv_stavrosStavros is a Researcher and Lecturer at the NTUA – Greek National Technical University (School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering). He will be adding a geological profile to all the mountains from which we will pass and provide GPS data information.

Stavros is also a rider, so he will be joining us for some field activities that will take him away from his work in the university.

 

Technical contributors

Dimitris Maris | Video Editor and Motion Graphics

cv_dimitrisDimitris has been a video editor for over fifteen years, with extensive experience in broadcast television, cinema and web projects. He has a high reputation for creativity, speed, and accuracy. His experience covers from corporate and commercial videos to documentaries and news stories.

Dimitris is a street-oriented rider but is always willing to get his hands (or clothes) dirty.

You can check his work here

 

Alexander Ioannidis | Web Designer and Developer

cv_alexAlex is our Website Developer and the silent force behind the Mythical Routes website. We are constantly challenging him with new requirements of the MR website and he is always delivering!

Alex is a bicycle aficionado and a racer.

You can check out his work here

BMW F850GS Rally

Our personal relationship with BMW goes way back, but from 2019 BMW Motorrad Hellas is supporting our project. Both I and my brother have been owners of many BMW motorcycles in the past like the R1200GS, the R1200GSA, the UnitGarage R120G/S, and the exotic HP2 Enduro. This year we will be riding something very special for BMW Motorrad, it’s first mid-sized adventure motorcycle powered by an in-house power plant. The brand new BMW F850GS Rally!

Deep-woods meditation

At first, we had mixed feeling about this motorcycle, but after a 1.500km adventure, we realized that it sits just in the middle between the BMW R1200GS/GSA and the KTM 950-990 ADV/SE we had been riding for the last years. It feels lighter, shorter and slimmer than all the GS/GSA models and it’s 21/17 size tubless wheels work excellent both on the tarmac and on gravel. It is softer and way more comfortable than any LC8 we have ever ridden, so it is basically better than the R1200GS/GSA off-road and better than the 990 ADV on long tarmac miles, with the addition of the BMW Comfort Seat.

It just hits that perfect place where everything is great. Not perfect, but good enough.

The F850GS engine is friendly and has a strong pull from 4000rpm all the way to the limiter. Kudos to BMW Motorrad for such a brilliant powerplant. We are using the optional BMW Akrapovic exhaust system, but engine and noise characteristics are identical. Nevertheless, it seems like the right choice since the weight reduction and the places it is removed from, work well on this beast.

The new F850GS Rally eats miles like cupcakes!

Arguably the most important part of an adventure motorcycle is the suspension. Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room. It is not a KTM, so it could never come close to the hardcore off-road performance. Period. On the other hand, the softish suspension is very capable and can carry the bike’s weight well on travel-enduro conditions. Your hands do not get tired and vibrations have a hard time reaching your torso and neck. It doesn’t like being rocketed full gas on an obstacle (your typical KTM riding style), but it will easily make 200+ off-road kilometers per day, plus 300+ tarmac. At the end of the day you will still be smiling and with a good night sleep, you will be totally ready for more action in the morning.

The F850GS is a real world traveler and since in nature circumstances often change, so should your motorcycle be able to adjust with ease.

We have opted for the ESA version for one main reason: ease of use. When you change from tarmac to gravel, or you just remove the panniers, you can change the suspension set-up with the press of a button, in comfort from your cockpit. This is not your hardcore KTM 950 Super Enduro that gets set-up once you are done.

BMW’s don’t like off-road. Yea, right…

So is it all perfect? Certainly not, they never are but with minor upgrades, it can be. The mirrors are not well designed, since looking better rarely means working better. They are small and the shape lacks field of view. That is one upgrade coming soon to our bikes. The F850GS is also lacking wind protection because of the short windscreen, that is fine for travel speeds up to 130-140km/h. After that, you are pulling hard with your biceps and the trip stops being enjoyable. On the bright side though there is no helmet wind-turbulence, so aerodynamically the shape works. Its size is also perfect for off-road riding, somewhere in the middle between a Super Enduro with the 690 screen and a 990 with short aftermarket screen.

It will take you to remote mesmerizing places, easier than you think.

The OEM footpegs are small and not suitable for standing up, so we upgraded with the optional BMW Rally pegs. Last, the OEM luggage system just doesn’t feel built for the Greek rough gravel soil. We are also not fond of hard luggage systems for reasons you can read in our Hard or Soft luggage article. This was easily solved with the addition of the Enduristan Monsoon 3 panniers, with 2×30lt of storage. We are adding to the rear the brilliant 15lt Enduristan pannier Topper and the 7lt Enduristan Sandstorm tank bag for a total of 82lt of 100% waterproof cargo space with the minimum weight added on the motorcycle. This is very effective and light, the best combo in my book.

Totally waterproof big cargo space with minimum weight. What more can you ask?

We are very excited to work with this fabulous motorcycle since it’s ride characteristics seem well suited for its future in the Greek mountains with us. Furthermore, it is a perfect platform to work on the development of future products with AltRider and Enduristan, so keep posted for future updates.

The F850GS is an exceptional world traveler, there is no doubt about it

We have been using KLiM Gear for the last 6 years now and one thing that we have come to realize is that the taste every motorcycle adventure leaves is directly related to whether you were in your “comfort temperature”. This is a dominant factor for well-being in all of our activities and rarely gets enough focus. As an Architect with specialization on Bioclimatic Architecture, I know it’s importance and try to educate as many users as possible. If you want to ride in comfort, you must understand Micro Climate.

Your Adventure is as comfortable as your gear is.

If you want to read about our current 2018-2019 riding gear, early this year we did a full review of the KLiM Badlands Pro and last year we did a full review of the radical KLiM Krios Helmet. More reviews about the KLiM Badlands Aero glove and the Sidi Adventure 2 boots coming soon.

MR Enduristan Catalogue

As adventure riders, we have to travel with all kinds of weather and carry a lot of gear. We always needed a luggage system that is light, 100% weatherproof and rugged. We use a lot of electronics like cameras, laptops, and drones, so our luggage system must provide all the protection electronics require. You can read more about our opinion on the old subject at our Hard of Soft Luggage article.

In 2017 Enduristan GmbH, a Swiss premium motorcycle luggage manufacturer that specializes in Adventure Luggage Systems offered to support our project with many different luggage solutions like saddlebags, tank-bags, tail-bags, and backpacks. In our routes gear gets seriously tested, so we could provide constant feedback back to Enduristan headquarters. In 2018 both Mythical Routes founders and riders became official Enduristan Ambassadors.

Our collaboration with Enduristan GmbH and Most Wanted Warehouse | Enduristan Greece produced a limited edition “Mythical Routes” version of Enduristan’s 2018-2019 product catalogue, that features all of Enduristan products as viewed from our perspective, rich of the Hellenic Landscape.

Mythical Routes Enduristan Catalogue 2018-2019 | EN

Mythical Partners

The Mythical Routes project has been welcomed and promoted by many established brands in the worldwide adventure community like KLIM, Enduristan, and AltRider. Our adventures have been highlighted by overland magazines like the Overland Journal and by Nikon the most iconic brand in the photography industry.

Overland Journal – Winter 2017

Nikon Greece – Media 2017


KLIM (Teton Outfitters, LLC) is the global leader in designing, developing and manufacturing the most advanced motor sports apparel for the snowmobile and motorcycle rider. Utilizing the world’s highest technologies in waterproof, breathable, durable and comfortable materials, KLIM builds gear for the most demanding riders. Riders like us that want to focus on our ride, our photography, our adventure. Worrying about the elements is just another distraction. We want a riding experience without compromise.

KLIM has been one of our first supporters, right from the beginning when Mythical Routes was nothing more than an idea, a concept. KLIM is one of those brands that thrive in the challenge and eager to help when something this big comes up. In the last four years, we have extensively used all of the Badlands / Badlands Pro series and enjoyed each and every one of them. We have been putting KLIM gear to the test constantly over these last few years and crash tested them a couple of times. We have also used their legendary Adventure Rally suit and have been blown away be the protection and technology it incorporates. Our thoughts about all of these models are freely expressed in our Gear Reviews and new gear will be tested in the future, as we keep getting impressed by how much this gear can take.

Enduristan GmbH was founded in 2008 by Christoph von Ow, Isabel Jenni, and David Jenni. The company aims to design and produce innovative, high-quality products for individualists for the touring markets. As they say:

Enduristan can’t be found on any map, but when the daily grind is left behind, and the adventure begins, that’s when you realize that you are there. When we travel through Enduristan, the horizon is clear, the colours are more intense, life feels good and we are free.

As you can read in our article hard or soft luggage, we are not particularly fond of hard luggage when we ride mostly off-road and for good reasons. When we first talked to Christoph and David about our project, they were sure that it was a perfect match both for their passion and for their products. We have been abusing the Blizzard saddlebags for quite some time now and they have remained 100% weatherproof no matter what we do to them.

AltRider is a Seattle-based company manufacturing 100% American-made accessories and gear for adventure touring motorcycles. Being riders themselves, the AltRider team expects performance and value from the products they use. Each AltRider protection part functions well, looks good on your bike, and can truly stand up to brutal riding conditions. Adventure riding isn’t just a hobby for them, it’s a lifestyle. Their goal is to give us the freedom of adventure, by designing and manufacturing superior protection parts and soft luggage that are actually built for the ride.

We like testing every new upgrade before we use it in an expedition. Maybe with the R1200GS bash plate, we tried a bit harder. We use proper adventure bikes in our expeditions, so weight is usually above average. The heavier the motorcycle, the harder the impact, so we need our protections built tough. AltRider bash plates and crash bars have always withstood every abuse we might have given them. We are currently working with them on testing some serious protection on BMW’s brand new F850GS model, so you should be expecting some serious test-riding.

BMW Motorrad Vagianelis SA is the biggest BMW Motorrad dealer in Greece. Our relationship goes way back but starting January 2019 he is officially supporting our project. Both I and my brother have been users of various BMW motorcycles in the past (R1200GS, R1200GSA, HP2 Enduro) and for this year we will be riding something more inclined to our needs. What could be better than the all-new, revolutionary for BMW, F850GS?

We are both very excited to work with this fabulous motorcycle, since with it’s 21-17 wheels and ride characteristics seems well prepared for its future in the Greek mountains. Furthermore, it will be the perfect platform to work on the development of future products by AltRider and Enduristan.

Aurora Rally Equipment is a Greek-based company with a broad background in design and engineering, with a dedicated laboratory to test their equipment with specially designed rigs where they can create models out of different materials to simulate the real parts before we start manufacturing. Their aim is to develop and fabricate high-quality parts with the highest standards in rally racing. They will always use innovative technologies, materials, and solutions and match it with unparalleled design and quality.

When we explained to Dimitris Lasithiotakis, co-founder of Aurora Rally, about our project and the application of rally solutions in adventure traveling conditions, he was eager to give it a try. So we ended up building two rally motorcycles based on the famous for its off-road capabilities Husqvarna 701 enduro. The Mythical 701 RR proved to be up to the task and then some. We were happy to discover that the theory was correct. Any rally motorcycle, without a competition motor, can be a great adventure bike! It is light, tough and has superior fuel range. If you like traveling light, this is definitely the solution for you!

Nikon is the most iconic brand in the photography industry today. It is the brand most used by the landscape, wildlife and action photographers and our personal choice for the last 10-15 year. As you can read in our Nikon D850 post, we are currently working exclusively on Nikon cameras (D850, D750, D300S, D200) and Nikon FX Gold Ring lenses, both zoom, and prime.

In late 2018 we were truly honored to be featured by Nikon Greece and from 2019 we are planning on working closely together in many sub-projects, always under the Mythical Routes concept. In addition to that, we have started a new photographic collaboration, with Angelo having a dedicated Adventure Travel category in the Greek photography magazine iFocus.

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ROUTE INFORMATION

Central / North Greece Adventure

Historic Landmarks

  • Necromanteion
  • Dodoni
  • Dion

4/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 950 km

10 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

45% Offroad

Camping and small Hotels

National Forest of Parnassus, Oiti

Middle May – Middle October

Acropolis of Athens

Route in Spacetime

Route in Spacetime

As the rhetorician and satirist Lucian wrote “… ascending to the Acropolis I flew over the cliff …” towards the land of Hades, the Necromanteion of Acheron, with the help of the psychopomp Hermes. On our right we saw the Agora of Athens and on our left the Pnyx, where the assembly of the citizens took place (Ecclesia). After a while we were passing over the temple of Artemis Aristovouli, that was discovered accidentally in June 1958 during the construction of a small private house at the junction of Nileos Street and Irakleidon Street at Thission. In front of the small Greek temple, an engraved column was discovered dedicating the temple to goddess Artemis Aristovouli, the foundation of which was personally insured by Themistocles. Exiting the walls of Athens, we pass over the Gate of Piraeus, leaving to our right the Double Gate and the Graveyard of the Kerameikos.

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Delos Data

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Further down we came across the Sacred Lake (Lake Koumoundourou), to the right of the Reidi (salty sacred lakes used for cleansing), where during the celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis the honor guard of Athens awaited wearing black tunics. Leaving behind Mount Aigaleo, where Xerxes watched, to our left, the Battle of Salamis. And behold, Hermes showed me the vast ritual center of Eleusis bellow us.

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KLiM Badlands Pro

I was planning for our next Mythical Routes tracking ride when the new 2018 KLIM Badlands Pro showed up in the office. What a great timing, I thought. This year’s first ride will be with brand new gear! Packed the old Super Enduro and headed to Mount Parnitha for a first ride in the new suit to see how it stands against our current 2017 KLIM Badlands suits.

As soon as I tried the pants, the fit improvements are obvious. It has a looser fit than the previous Badlands and the second top strap (above the knee) has been eliminated. That strap was something that was always bugging me with the old Badlands. That top strap, even fully loose, was pulling and squeezing my thigh every time I sat on the bike. Now that it’s gone, the pants are much more comfortable. Another nice improvement is the bigger size of the pants hem. My MX boots fit perfectly and the pant zipper closes without any effort. The jacket has an almost identical fit with the old one, with just a little more room at the belly area.

Ice and snow are ideal conditions for a great test ride

One thing that strikes you as soon as you use the new suit is the extra protection added with the all new KLIM® D3O® AERO PRO Armor. With 44% more coverage, these things are huge! You really feel the upgrade here. On top of that they ventilate 5 times better due to their innovative design.

One of the key components of the Badlands series was the enhanced protection provided by Superfabric® extreme abrasion panels placed on the highest abrasion zones. These panels were first used at the Adventure Rally and then inherited to the previous Badlands. The new upgraded panels feature variable density fabric that provides a combination of free movement and extreme resistance. The new panels are also larger in total area thus providing an upgraded abrasion protection.

Built and backed up by KLiM’s legendary name and warranty

KLIM has always used motorsports-exclusive GORE-TEX® 3-Layer Pro Shell technology for all previous Badlands incarnations, so waterproofness and breathability was never an issue. No change here for the new model. We feel 100% sure, as with all previous models, that it will withstand all weather conditions and we will always arrive safe and dry, wherever the trail brings us.

Ventilation was always one of Badlands strong points, better even than the legendary KLIM Adventure Rally that we have used extensively in the past. The positioning of the majority of vents have no variation from the previous model, which already worked just about perfect. The new jacket eliminates the lateral vents and replaces them with two front ones, just below the chest. This new configuration should work even better than the previous model, but given the cold we faced during the ride, we did not use the intake vents much. Maybe in the near future we will make a review of the venting system, once the weather becomes warmer once again.

Tan colorway blends perfectly with Greek National Forest colors

Ventilation is also enhanced, due to the use of the new dynamic D3O AERO PRO armor’s open structure. Airflow can now move completely through the best armor in the industry, protecting but also cooling the body by expelling heat at all speeds.
Furthermore the use of KLIM engineered KLIMATEK COOL base layer cooling fabric into the armor pockets, utilizes chemical-free moisture transfer and cool evaporation technology that does not wear out over time. The result is a fabric with hyper-wicking properties that is cooling your skin.

We focus only in the trail ahead and let our gear worry about the weather..

The only issue we had with the new Badlands Pro is the design of the rear cargo pocket. KLIM eliminated the top zipper and replaced it with two lateral zippers. In theory it should work better being easier to reach, but given the lower volume of the pocket, we had trouble storing the exact same items that we used to store in the previous model.

Updates are everywhere for the all-new 2018 Badlands Pro

Is this the perfect Adventure suit? If you had to find the one suit that does it all, from Adventure to Off-road to Touring and everything in-between, this would be it. We said the exact same thing for the previous Badlands model, but this is just the confirmation of how well engineered and executed the Badlands concept has always been. This 2018 new model is a true successor of the Badlands legacy and the key reasons are:

  1. it features the best protective armor produced to date, matching – or even surpassing – the Adventure Rally. That is a statement on it’s own.
  2. it is 100% weatherproof without sacrificing breath-ability. It will keep you dry and comfortable day after day.
  3. it features heavy-duty abrasion resisting fabrics without being too heavy. Weight feels almost identical to the previous model, even with the added weight of the larger protective pads.
  4. it is full of features and pockets and zippers and everything to make your life easier, without being too flashy.
  5. it features kidney belt and chest protector, as any real Adventure suit should feature. Being hit in the chest by a stone is no joke.
  6. it features increased low-light visibility without the need to use Hi-Vis colors, so “I don’t want to get dirty” is not an excuse anymore for those that opted for the Hi-Vis color.
  7. it has more venting ports than I can remember, better placed than the previous models and much more than any other waterproof adventure suit that we have ever used.
  8. it is backed up by KLiM’s legendary name and KLiM’s warranty system that works every time.

We really couldn’t be happier with this year’s Badlands Pro. Now, let’s get dirty !!

Husqvarna 701 Rally Replica

As most Adventure Riders out there, we are in the hunt for the perfect all-round and do-it-all Adventure Bike.

One of the key features is weight. A perfect adventure bike must be light enough to tackle some single-track use or hard obstacles. As we have mentioned in our article Adventure Bikes, always keep in mind that if you can not pick up your bike fully loaded in any situation, then it is not an adventure bike!

You will need to pick-up your bike many times in a day

Speaking of off-road use, another key feature is good suspension. A proper Adventure bike must have proper off-road suspension and everything that comes with it. If the bike can not handle dirt-road abuse, then your adventure will be rather sort.

One of the most important features in any adventure ride, is the absence of frequent gas stations, so our bikes must be able to carry a lot of fuel. The more we can carry, the best we are. With large tanks you always have the option to leave them half-empty in the event of a difficult single-track day.

Single-track is part of any Adventure Ride

Last required feature is good wind protection for those tarmac miles that you will need to travel. This protection will be also very useful while riding off-road, protecting your GPS and other devices from stones, branches and other things that keep coming your way.

Husqvarna 701 Rally Replica

A thought that instantly comes in our minds is that Rally bikes have almost all the required features of the perfect Adventure bike. We choose the 701 to begin this project for the same reason it’s progenitor, the KTM 690, has so many hardcore fans and so many companies are building hard parts for it, all around the world. The 701 took its place as the latest incarnation of an almost extinct breed, refined and perfected in all aspects and maybe this is the actual reason why KTM never fixed some of the serious problems of the 690.

Many (like us) are addicted to the look of Rally bikes and just recently we got acquainted with a native Greek company, AURORA Rally Equipment that specializes into doing exactly what we wanted. It produces a complete Rally Replica kit that converts a stock Husqvarna 701 to the ultimate Adventure and Rally weapon, with 3 tanks, 2 fuel pumps, a navigation tower and a big RR screen. it seamed obvious that this was the ultimate 701 and just the right bike for what we were looking for.

This 701RR is the absolute best Adventure bike ever built

The 701RR has the aggressive look and the light factor that today’s adventure bikes simply do not have any more, just because the companies are constantly adding street oriented features to their motorcycles making them heavier and with bigger boar engines, year after year.

The 701 as stock is ready to take you into some of the most wonderful back roads Greece has to offer, but it lacks is some areas especially fuel range. This kit doubles the range of the bike with two OEM rally tanks (total fuel carried is 28 liters).

As we started our first journey on this bike to test it’s capabilities, we found out it was a real pleasure to be able to choose which pump to use, front or rear tanks, in order to change the balance characteristics of the motorcycle at will. In Travel Enduro situations, the motorcycle has to constantly adapt to both the added weight-load from the equipment that is is caring and the ever-changing conditions of the road. In addition, having a dual fuel pump system gives you peace of mind since in the event of a malfunction, you still go the second pump to take you safely at your next base.

The actual added weight to the bike is not much. If you have an after-market can like we do and a Li-Po battery, then the added weight is 12.833kg. Adding the fuel (27lt) we are at 178kg total. Not bad at all !!

Another lacking characteristic of the 701 that gets addressed with the 701RR kit is rider comfort. Your butt now gets a royal ride with an ergonomically enhanced high-tech polymer seat that does not get in the way when standing on the pegs, but makes a comfy siting position for those tarmac-legs that you were dreading.

Night riding experience also gets a serious update with a dedicated high beam LED light, a 10.000 lumens Baja Squadron that literally turns they darkest night into a bright day. No more worries about those last off-road miles while getting dark.

AURORA Rally Equipment Roadbook and Nav-Tower are build as tanks

Another feature to get addressed is bash-plate protection. This kit features a full-carbon plate that integrates perfectly with the shape of the front tanks. Now this is a part that we were skeptical about, since Greece has a rocky soil, so close encounters with boulders is a very common thing. Added the fact that the bike is fully loaded with fuel and luggage, this seriously reduces ground clearance in deep ruts and small jumps, because the springs are working overtimes. In reality though, the carbon-fiber bash plate did not show any kind of stress marks or cracks. It stood perfect while tackling the harsh Greek mountain roads.

Last feature of the perfect Adventure bike is reliability. So, “plug & play” was the only option that we were looking for and this kit has it. The Aurora 701RR kit is the only one in the market today that uses OEM Rally Factory parts and does not modify the frame in any way. This way you do not loose the official Husqvarna warranty and this is something very important in our book.

Combine that with the confidence that this kit will survive everything you throw at it, with brackets that come with a limited life warranty, you got really nice deal here.

Luggage System

On our off-road / adventure motorcycles we are using exclusively Soft Luggage for a variety of reasons. You can give yourself a read about that in our Hard or Soft Luggage blog post.

We like to ride as compact as possible

In our Mythical 701 Rally Replica bikes we are using Enduristan Sandstorm 4H tankbag to safe keep our cameras and other electronics from water, dust or whatever we encounter. For all of our tools, spear air tubes and clothes we are using Enduristan Blizzard L Saddle Bags to keep everything safe and maintain a low center of gravity. For our saddle bags we are not using any kind of frame, so we can keep the added weight to a minimal. Last storage item used is the Enduristan Tail Pack, a fast-accessibly bag with a zipper design to safe keep some items that we would need to use frequently, like a second dry-fit shirt, a Gore Tex soft shell, or a power-bar.

AURORA 701 Rally Replica Highlights

Speaking with Dimitris, head-developer of the 701RR, is always cool since you always learn many things about the fascinating Rally world. This is his analysis of the 701RR kit:

Fuel System

A fully loaded Aurora 701RR will hold approximately 28 liters of fuel. We chose to use the KTM factory parts. The fuel pump is located on the right tank, while the left is waiting to be upgraded with a third pump should you travel to the ends of Earth! Tripe layered racing heat reflector is installed to protect the tanks from the heat generated.
The fuel piping uses billet non-return valves and OEM quick release couplings, but also adds two extra fuel filters in the system. A secondary fuel piping can be installed as a spare system on the bike, ready to be connected in case the primary one is damaged. Thermal protection is installed in all the critical areas of the fuelling lines to prevent over-heating.
Aurora 701RR comes with two fuel pumps manually selectable. We added the OEM Keihin, rally pump and its fuel warning light to ensure that the rider will get to the next resting point whatever the circumstances. It is known that the KTM690 fuel pumps were failing sooner or later, so the extra fuel pump is necessary. Due to the laws of hydraulics and the geometry of the bike, the tanks cannot be interconnected (and they are not, even on the rally bike) so the two fuel pumps are necessary for optimal performance.

Tank Brackets

This is the only kit in worldwide today that uses the OEM KTM factory tanks and does not modify the frame in any way. While other ‘garage’ built kits will force the builders to modify the frame of the bike, invalidating the warranty in most of the countries that the bike is sold, the Aurora 701 leaves the frame unharmed.
Pioneering in materials use and design, these tank brackets are the strongest in the market to date.  While sheet metal is cheap to make. It does not have neither the integrity nor the strength of billet parts. We, at Aurora Rally Equipment, made no compromise in designing and building something that will last the lifetime of the vehicle. Installation is a breeze, no need to remove the internals of the rear tank or other major parts of the bike to install them.
The CNC brackets, made from Aluminium or ST37, allow some flexibility in case of a crash, yet they are warrantied for the life of the vehicle.

Head Clamp

One of the most important parts on the bike. Holding the navigation tower and electrics. When collaborating with winning teams, we know that failure is not an option. Aurora Rally Equipment is active in the Rally scene since 2013 and our equipment has won multiple times in the mighty Africa Eco Race and Dakar. We have used data logging equipment to understand the forces involved during riding and crashing. Using temperature loggers and three axis accelerometers on Rally bikes, we designed a pioneering head clamp like no other. Machined out of a solid block of aluminium, using the stock mounting points on the bike, our innovative design uses a third anchor point to increase strength and stability. Once again, this clamp is warrantied for the life of the vehicle.

Navigation Tower

The navigation tower on the 701RR is like no other. Easy cable access, strong yet flexible to protect your valuable gear, this tower can be transformed either to a digital setup using HighwayDirtbikes unique ipad and iphone cases, or to a rally cockpit using the winning Aurora Rally Equipment products. This tower comes with special rivet nuts so there is no need to put nuts and washers in the critical, no easy to access places.

Lights

If you decide to take it the long way and wonder in the dark, you have the perfect combination of lights. OEM Hella light with a Baja Squadron Sport keep you both legal and safe. The option to replace the Sport with the Pro model, as well as add another two Squadrons can lit up the road with almost 10.000 lumens! The RGB position light allows you to create a unique setup according to your mood and the soon to be released thin sheet lights will give the bike an appearance like no other bike on the road.

 

* More information about the AURORA 701 RR kit can be found here

Sacred Astronomy

In a first world publication, a fascinating and in-depth research that reveals the true significance of Astronomy for Hellenism in Antiquity and how it was used practically for political, diplomatic and military purposes, combined with Greek mythology. In this book we examine how the spread of Hellenism over the geographical area was the result of the conquest of the Astral Tholos, which gave the Greek to acquire Geostrategic logic.

 

Author

Drawings

Translation (EN)

Publisher

Original Title

George Baltoyannis | Architect

Angelo Baltoyannis | MSc Architect

Chris Loutroutzis

Mythical Routes – Athens 2017

Ιερή Αστρονομία

Prologue

EVERY NIGHT, THE CELESTIAL DOME,dominates over our Earth, and he who possesses it automatically becomes the Master of the Earth. In this book we will examine how the spread of Hellenism on the geographical space, was the result of the conquest of the Astral dome, a fact which positioned the Greeks in the advantageous position of acquiring a geo-strategical logic.
One can easily perceive, that all of this, has happened over a long period of time and we are nowadays unprepared to understand it’s importance, as the knowledge of the operation of the Celestial dome is a subject bypassed in modern education, and we jump straight into Space, ignoring that our current space successes are still based on the functions of the ancient Celestial dome.
It is a work spanning many centuries, which was carried out by many Greek Astronomers, of which we know only of 188. However, it is possible for us to acquire a completed education, by starting with common logic. During the course of our study however, we will be proceeding spherically around Knowledge, due to the fact that the World of the Ancients is multidimensional, and each of their conquests was also extended and applied into their social life.
This way we will discover our spiritual proximity to our ancient ancestors, even if we are separated by thousands of years. Even our own worship is the projection of their own decisions, as the ancient world was a world of research on all fields of human activity. If we accept as a fact that the World leader of today is situated in Washington, we will seek for the answers to the questions, who was the previous World leader, where was he, and what was his association to the modern world.
The whole process of research creates complex emotions, as we transition from one historical site to the other and from one dimension to another. And this is because the Celestial dome essentially does not exist; it is a fictional impression of the visual system, which the Ancient ancestor turned into a real and functional one, for future generations.
When, during a starlit night, we find ourselves away from the city lights and turn our gaze to the sky, we will see that it is filled with stars. The spectacle is amazing, however, every one deals with it in a different manner, depending on the emotion of the moment and his knowledge regarding the Earth. The initiated, when looking at the sum of constellations, he will start to point to Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus and Cassiopeia and everyone will listen to him with bewilderment(im. ). Because we all know the great movie stars like Greta Garbo, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and many others. But who might the stars on the sky be and who placed them there?
On a different day with a clear sky, if we are initiated in the art of reading this part of the celestial dome, we will see these sums of starts again, but in a different position on the Celestial dome. Then, we will begin to realize that movement plays an important role and that will be confirmed, the more we learn about the history of these constellations. If our interest on the Celestial dome continues, then we will notice more gatherings of stars, like Perseus, Andromeda and Pegasus, which periodically appear on the sky. Next, going back to the myth of Perseus, we will begin to realize that this celestial movement is associated to the myth and that all of this is a celestial theatrical direction. The movement of these stellar sums functions in a cinematographic way, where the scene changes depending on time. Naturally, our surprise will become even greater when these stellar gatherings assume a form(im.2) because the western civilization fought hard for the prevalence of form during the Byzantine period of iconoclasm. So, we will be searching for the director, like Stanley Kubrick, John Ford or even Francis Ford Coppola. This way, we will reach the point of comparison, seeking for the cast and crew of this celestial conception, to award them with the Oscar for the best script, direction and acting.
The major movie studios may have spent vast amounts for the promotion of the stars of the 7th art, but they never reached or exceeded the duration of the projection of Heracles, whom we see roaming among the stars. All of this represents a vast, time spanning work, carried out by many intellectuals of a different era, which we should examine in depth. Thus we will discover the mechanism, based on which this entire system functioned, to rate this body of work, the results of which are evident on the Celestial dome surrounding us. So then, to approach the projected figures of the “celestial cinematograph”, we will research the Heroes of mythology, who seem to have been actual individuals with personal lives and deeds, who, after their death, transitioned for some reason into the sphere of the imagination.

The researcher,

George Baltoyannis

 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Celestial Dome of the Greeks (In General)

  1. Astronomy and Astrology
  2. Initiation to the astral dome
  3. Astral and geographical system
  4. Loose federation
  5. Celestial cinematograph
  6. Artistic and political choice

Chapter 2 – Heracles (In General)

  1. Historical framework
  2. Heracles and the stars
  3. The mythological course of Heracles
  4. Data analysis
  5. Orphic Template
  6. Coordinates
  7. Projection of the image
  8. Conclusions and the worship of Heracles
    I. Spherical logic
    II. Revival of Orphism
    III. Geostrategy
    IV. Worship of Heracles

Chapter 3 – Mnemonic summary of chapters 1 and 2

  1. Celestial dome
  2. Ecliptic
  3. Heracles

Chapter 4 – The secrets of special “effects”

  1. Anthropocentrism
  2. Astral design
  3. Astral aesthetics
  4. Celestial Dragon
  5. Astral chronology
  6. Chthonic Apollo

Chapter 5 – Integrated thought

  1. Colonial policy
  2. Cartography-Portolans
  3. Architect God
  4. Columbus
  5. Transcendence of Alexander the Great

 


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