"How did I get here? Oh man, you wouldn't even believe me. I'm not sure I even believe it myself."
So asks Kyle Dempster in the opening of the awesome documentary above. In 2011, Dempster set out to ride a mountain bike across Kyrgystan, with stops along the way to climb mountains, cross streams (naked, of course), and weasel his way across borders, all guided by (as he puts it) a vague, outdated map. (And really, where does one get a current map of Kyrgystan?)
According to Outdoor Research, the gear company that sponsors Dempster, he initially thought his self-shot footage from the 1200 kilometer trip would be good for a quick video. Fitz Cahall and Austin Siadak, the filmmakers that Dempster gave the footage to, ended up creating something far more ambitious. I'm glad they did, because it's an awesome watch.
There's a certain panicky giddiness that can set in when you're traveling solo and the boozy courage of wanderlust wears off. You see it in Dempster's interactions with locals: No one has any idea what anyone else is saying, and then the realization that you're alone and probably lost sets in. Rather than having some lame meltdown, Dempster cruises on. That's the whole point, isn't it? To experience something you never have before?
Sometimes it gets to be a bit more than you ask for, like when Dempster is forced to skull vodka with a bunch of border guards. (That scene starts around 11:15, and it's so worth watching.) But in trade, Dempster found himself immersed in Kyrgystan's incredible beauty like few Westerners have.
"360 degrees of rad," he says, describing a mindblowing vista. It can't get much better than that.