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American cyclists killed in attack in Tajikistan traveled through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Central Asia | society | 13:44, 01 August 2018 | 1131

AKIPRESS.COM - American citizens Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan were among four foreign cyclists killed during the assault in Danghara district of Tajikistan.

Austin and Geoghegan, both 29, were a couple who described themselves on their blog, “Simply Cycling,” as “two Americans biking around the world.” Geoghegan, who had not spent much time on a bicycle before 2013, and Austin, who traveled little growing up, said they decided to travel the world on wheels “because life is short and the world is big and we want to make the most out of our youth and good health before they’re gone,” The Washington Post reports.

In early July, they cycled across Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan prior to Tajikistan.

"We camp in wide open fields. We roll off the main road and bump down single-track until whenever we feel like stopping, then we set up our tent in the tall grass. We cook beans under a setting sun and wash dishes beneath a rising crescent. We sleep below a bright speckled canopy of satellites and stars. For four days, we cycle and camp along southern Kazakhstan. We move slowly, sleeping until nine or ten and lounging around for hours before packing up the tent. One morning we wake up late, gather our things, and hit the road around noon. A man and his son pull over in a truck around 12:03, rush over to our bikes, and hand us two ice cream bars. Welcome to Kazakhstan," Jay wrote about Kazakhstan.

Jay described his impressions about cycling in Kyrgyzstan: “We have one 3,200-meter pass behind us. The Too Ashuu was some of the toughest cycling we've ever done. But there's another 3,200-meter pass just ahead. The Ala-Bel. It'll be just as high, just as cold and snowy. Fortunately, it won't be so much climbing… We ride. We pedal through some really gorgeous scenery. Glaciers. Streams. Mountains, of course. Mountains in every direction. We share the road with cars and trucks but also tractors and horses and sheep.”

The assault occurred in the countryside south of the capital, Dushanbe, when assailants rammed a car into the cyclists before pouncing on them with knives. Rene Wokke from the Netherlands and Markus Hummel from Switzerland were also killed, Tajik authorities said.

Days before he was killed in the attack, Austin described Tajikistan as “a tough place to cycle.”

“It is cold and windy and mountainous and, most of all, very, very high,” he wrote. “Lauren’s been having a bit of difficulty with the altitude.”

Austin was born in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Georgetown University. After graduation, he accepted a job with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he worked for seven years, according to his mother, Jeanne Santovasco.

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