Video: Afghanistan With Matt Hunter And Dan Milner

Jul 21, 2014
by Dan Milner  
12 days on the Wakhan Corridor loop afghanistan

Want adventure by the bucket load? Mountain biking in Afghanistan will do that for you. Dan Milner joins Matt Hunter for a real 12 day epic, riding the first ever expedition through the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan, and gives you all the info you would need to follow in their tire tracks... if you could ever be bothered. Trail Ninja episode 16 - all the low down, inside info and more on what is possibly the toughest mountain bike ride ever?




96 Comments

  • 67 5
 You guys going to do some urban riding in the Ukraine next?
  • 10 4
 i think i have laughed too hard at this comment
  • 13 6
 going by plane is the best solution i think
  • 3 5
 Just right after the marines cleared the dangers around there.
  • 7 1
 why stop at Ukraine? why not go for the gusto and make a pit stop in North Korea and maybe throw in the Gaza strip for some more urban.
  • 4 3
 OOOOOO, North Korea, I wouldnt mind doing that. The only thing stopping me would be the mandatory Kim Jong-Un nut cut.......fuck that, the geezer looks like a complete cunt.
  • 1 0
 Well you aren't getting in to NK with that comment- unless maybe their Internet is out when you arrive Smile
  • 26 1
 In 2012 I was at FOB Bostick from Feb to Dec with 4BCT 4 ID. It was the northernmost combat outpost in Afghanistan after Keating was overran and subsequently closed. This was still quite a ways from the wakhan corridor even though we were the northernmost unit and were on the Pakistani border. Pakistan was the second set of mountain tops and ridge lines away. We could walk there relatively quickly but didn't because it was not allowed. Anyhow, Bostick had four observation posts (OP) on the mountain tops and ridgelines to the east and west that we called the four horseman. basically, we were in a river valley, on the floor, surrounded by, well, hill tops and ridges. if you know about COP Keating, rest their souls, then you know what the set up is like. Bostick wasn't as bad but the Taliban had a birds eye view of us. I don't remember the name of the ANA COP to the north of Rocket Ridge but there was a path coming down from it that led into the village of Naray that was right below it on the mountain. You can google FOB Bostick and get a whole lot of pictures of Naray from the flight line on Bostick. What I observed one day didn't make me have any faith in Afghanistan, or our mission there whatsoever, but it restored a bit of faith in humanity for me at a time when I needed it. A local came shredding down that trail on a hoopty looking 100 year old Schwinn looking bike; man dress, sandals, and all. This trail was no joke. It was steep, loose and twisty. I would stare at it every down and yearn for my Yeti (my consolation was my trek madone I brought over with my rollers that I rode in a connex reinforced win sandbags). This local that rode down it had every inch of that trail dialed. It was beautiful. It made me feel good that in that shithole there was someone who, in a round-about way, was stoked on rippin single track.
  • 5 0
 Oh yeah, this was typed on my iPad at 1223 am with my wife sleeping next to me thus the shitty writing.
  • 1 0
 Awesome.
  • 1 0
 Awesome story bro, hopefully i go to afghanistan soon an see some cool shit like that too
  • 1 0
 Would have loved to meet that local, but am probably happy to say I'm glad I wasn't anywhere near your posting. He probably rides better than me.
  • 19 1
 Himalaya is the right place to ride a "YETI"
  • 4 3
 the two best adventure mtbikers
  • 3 0
 This was a pretty risky plan
  • 13 4
 I didn't have the joy of going here for any of my deployments, but i'd say I would not ride anywhere in that country. The land has been fought over/in since early times, and is extremely dangerous due to the land being littered with undisclosed and forgotten about mine fields. Sure the terrain is beautiful until you hit the wrong "rock". No thanks...
  • 14 14
 I wish Matt Hunter found and killed Osama instead of SEAL Team 6. He's way more badass anyways
  • 4 0
 Way to have a sense of adventure boys! The journey looked so beautiful and all those memories of the snow, horses, flooded rivers will stay with you the rest of your lives. Looking forward to experiencing a trip like this one day Wink Thanks for sharing. Definitely inspiring to say the least!
  • 1 0
 Thanks, The Wakhan is open for business. And there are of course plenty of other places on the planet, perhaps not so "extreme" littered with trails that make great riding. They've been keeping me busy for 3 decades and every year I find somewhere new.
  • 7 1
 Afghanistan is like, every awesome aspect of biking in one place. And I'll watch anything with Matt Hunter.
  • 2 0
 A mountain range that is second to none. It needs bike trails though. Imo the trail ninja is the greatest exotic bike destination advocate of them all.
  • 3 0
 When I first set eyes on the mountains myself in '06 it was what awesome climbing and ridding. Good to see that they went to the "safe" part of the Gan.

Who cares about rock gardens when you have mine fields and IED's.

Part 2 is in Helmand? That would be extream MTB.
  • 5 0
 The inaugural Infidel Enduro Ride...that is a really crazy place to ride, for every possible reason.
  • 5 0
 Temperature range +30 to -10 C! Thats a lot to pack for.
  • 3 0
 And the rest. Had -20 in winter and a plus 45 in summer. Lovely part of the world.
  • 1 0
 Like usual hillarious Dan Milner. I just watched your "younger" video in Nat Geo when you hit by a deer. Well that explain how you've become like these days. But seriously, u've done a great work with all the bike videos mate. Keep up the great works..
Props to u..
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the props. The deer incident was in Scotland while shooting a story for Transworld Snowboarding mag about 3 or 4 years ago. Now you've worried me how much i Seem to have aged in that time!
  • 1 0
 Dont worry Dan, what lies beneath that count..
And maybe you should try some trip to my country Indonesia sometimes. Its a laaaaarge country with variety of riding (except snow). You can get mountain, tropical forest, black sand desert and savanna.
  • 1 0
 @Zulki-fly.. Indonesia sounds great.. book me in! Lets keep in touch. How are the trails? When's best time for a visit (avoiding rainy season and leeches)??
  • 1 0
 About March to August.. But we have tropical climate, so the weather a bit unpredictable lately. But dont worry, although it rain it'll never get so cold like in the UK. We got five mainland and it'll ride diferent, So just message me if you got your plan. And i'll spread the words to my mates around those mainland.
  • 2 0
 I think you should have taken me on this adventure... absolutely gutted, it's not like I can just ring the locals and get trail information now is it...
  • 2 0
 Sign up for the next one at www.now-where-did-I-leave-my-commonsense.com Your login is: damn why did I think this was a good idea? and the password is: the descent on the other side better be worth it.

Actually companies like Secretcompass.com do trips like this to other adventurous places on the planet. Proper out there stuff with bikes. Check them out.
  • 1 0
 Cheers Dan! I will take pics from my adventure there.... Will add this to my to-do list a long with secretcompass. Might be a long stretch, but have you got a gpx file for the ride (hehe) that I could have a butchers at?
  • 1 0
 Do it. They have a crazy trip to Ethiopia going this autumn, and who knows our paths may cross there...!
  • 1 0
 It’s surreal to have spent 15 months worrying about my brother when he was fighting over there to watch one of my favorite riders doing one of my favorite things there. Amazing, but surreal.
  • 1 0
 Indeed, A crazy place to do a mountain bike trip, but we were way to the north, in the very safe Wakhan Corridor. It was a surreal experience for all of us involved. And humbling as I am sure anyone's experience of any part of Afghanistan is for various reasons.
  • 3 0
 Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should go do it. Just sayin'.
  • 2 0
 Hmm, Doesn't that go against the whole ethos of adventure? After all, Mallory climbed Everest simply "because it was there" (his words). Anyhow, the area of Afghanistan we travelled to is about as peaceful as most of Europe (truly). Our biggest risk was actually the 4-day drive in. The Taliban and NATO have little interest in the Wakhan. But the Wakhan does have a very small tourist industry of adventure trekking.. about 100 tourists per year go there and help financially support a very poor area. It is "safe" to travel to and in, and well, we thought was worth checking out as a bike adventure. Once in, there are no roads, only trails so why not. Well, as you can see, some of those trails dont make the easiest riding!
  • 1 1
 mallory? don't you mean Hillary? if your talking about the first man to summit Everest.
  • 1 0
 Nope I mean George Mallory. He tried to climb Everest in 1924 during the British Everest expedition. He didn't make it to the summit (and died in the attempt). But when asked beforehand why he was going to try to climb Everest he reportedly replied "because it's there!". Its perhaps the most infamous mountaineering quote ever. Hillary, along with Tensing Norgay, successfully made the 1st ascent of Everest 30 years later. His quote has been shared as reason enough by 9/10 adventurers since I reckon!
  • 1 0
 How cool was it that Matt Hunter just happened to be there? Just before the end I was thinking what if the Taliban stole your bike and there one of the Afghan soldiers did instead.
  • 1 0
 No Taliban there. Hunter scared them off with his bar drags.
  • 3 0
 What do you get when you mix Sam Hill with Chuck Norris and Macgyver? = Matt Hunter.
  • 1 0
 The video was exellent. Dan your comments show that you have a firm understanding of the world model. I think this vid does a better job of educating the masses about Afghanistan better than any CNN propaganda I have seen.
  • 1 0
 Kind words, thanks.
  • 4 1
 I'd like to know who produced the music. They weren't credited.
  • 2 0
 Imagine Dragons I believe.
  • 1 0
 We get our music for these ep's from Audio Network on a deal that means that credits dont have to be included. If theres a track thats tickling your fancy let me know and I'll look it up.
  • 1 0
 And what about the music in this (great) episode? I don't think it's Imagine Dragons...
  • 1 0
 For those who want to know: Dead Man Dancing - Matt Hill (found on Audio Network...)
  • 3 2
 I'll probably get downvoted for this, but Dan Milner kind of gets on my nerves, and I'm not sure why. I even feel bad about it.
  • 3 0
 I actually get on my own nerves, so I know how you feel. I guess my delivery isnt going to work for everyone, but essentially what I'm trying to juggle here is delivering info on the location/ride/destination etc, combined with a real feel for what goes on on these trips/adventures and a little humour that is I think has a place in mountain biking, in between the shallow DOF DSLR-shot drifty focus serious bike films that make up 99% of the vid content nowadays. Not saying my humour or style of delivery is everyone's bag, but, like tofu instead of steak, it works for some. Thanks for your feedback anyhoo.
  • 1 0
 HAHAHA. Ok, after that awesomely witty reply, I now like Dan Milner a great deal. Forgive me, sir.
  • 2 0
 Dan...taking criticism like a boss...... how very un-internet of you! And very un-pinkbike come to think of it! without a chip on your shoulder I'm not sure you belong here! F8K it! your content is top shelf...keep it coming!
  • 3 0
 Where is the Matt Hunter signature bar drag?
  • 1 0
 Was this part of the Anthill adventure? or in Afganistan the new MTB mecca?
  • 2 0
 Yep it was the same great Anthill film trip, but due to "licensing agreements", my little film here needed to come out way later. I was there principally to shoot stills on the trip, with the print story now already running in Bikemag and in many other mags around the world (check bikemag's online gallery... tinyurl.com/kg8fbcm ) . For my film here, I thought it would nice to give a little take on what this place is like as a real riding destination.. hence my episode.
  • 3 5
 Why would anyone spend money, or to put it another way, support the economy of a country where so many human rights violations are common? This is at least the third post regarding Afganistan and I don't get it at all. Last week a car bomb killed 90+ in that country. I wish Pinkbike or at least it's users would frown upon tourism in areas where humans are treated so badly. I don't have any solutions, but promoting this country is irresponsible.
  • 10 1
 Car bombs, high school shootings. You say tomato they say گوجه فرنگی.
  • 5 1
 ^THIS^ is why we need a "Comment of the Year award". I was closer to pissing myself than an American who can't quite reach his mobility scooter.
  • 12 1
 Interesting point deadtime. I guess it comes down to the idea that if we just turned our backs on every country that had human rights violations, or entertained any other number of 'crimes against humanity' (could we include capital punishment? flooding wilderness for hydro-electric projects? deforestation for cattle rearing? blatant mis-appropriation of state funds for foreign covert op's? Dubious POW treatments? vote-rigging? escalations in nuclear arsenals? widely practiced use of rape as class or sex weapon? not allowing same sex marriages? Denying gay people the right to be out or even live in places? 'accidental' shootings or beatings of civilians by police? and so many more that are going on in the civilised west as well as developing countries) then we'd have few places left to go visit! In fact, it would even start to get hard to stay at home too.
Nowhere is perfect thats for sure.
In reality, visiting such places as Afghanistan, whatever the popular feeling/perception of this suffering country, and spreading our "wealth" in an honest way (not just by charity alone) on trips like this we are helping break down the barriers, suspicions and ill-feelings that are often the roots of war, terrorism or cultural/ethnic cleansing. We didnt walk in there with jackboots and a military budget to try to "change" the country but with honest intentions to discover a (peaceful corner of a) country for ourselves and see what experiences we and the locals would take from our time there.
  • 8 2
 @deadtime Your country killed over 100,000 in Iraq and a comparable number of non-combatants in Afghanistan but you don't hear me complaining. I'd still happily give my custom to America because that's not all there is to your great and beautiful United States. And then there's Israel: You don't seem to have any qualms about your leadership giving 6 billion dollars a year in aid to a country that has killed 200+ civilians in the past week.

Imao, you're mega ignorant.
  • 5 0
 Excellent reply @Dan! I'm a Canadian who lives part-time in Uzbekistan for work (I'm fortunate enough to call Vancouver Island home!); Afghanistan and Uzbekistan border one another. While less known, its human rights record is equally appalling. Its a dictatorship and the government controls everything that happens there - it's very 1984 and very scary sometimes.

I think that promoting tourism to areas like this (in a safe and respectful manner) is in fact the answer. The more Uzbek locals that I meet the more I realize they're just people; they are intensely proud of their culture and history and the huge majority of them are victims, not proponents of any violence or human rights issues. In a roundabout way, depending on why you're there and what you're doing there, the presence of foreigners is a big positive in areas like this.
  • 2 0
 We contribute in world peace, just have to realize that.. The more we whining about something then more it'll become negative and more contagious to others. Instead of spreading "negativity" why dont we spread "positivity" like Dan doing with all his photos or videos.
  • 1 2
 @MangoSentinel I don't think you really read both sides of the news on Israel man, both sides are killing innocents over there. And England has done some pretty effed up things in the past. Every country has its bad history and politically makes mistakes. You cant blame all Americans for what the government does cuz I for one don't support sending troops nor money to any middle east country. The man has his point of view on the subject and he is entitled to speaking out and supporting his own view on subjects. Just because you don't agree with him doesn't mean he is ignorant or wrong.

sincerely,
a pinkbike user who lost a cousin and a best friend in Afghanistan in 07' and 11'
  • 2 1
 He is welcome to his own opinions, people are just pointing out how ill formed and ignorant his opinions are.
  • 4 0
 My observation from the bit of history I've been fortunate to find out on my own from reputable sources..not what was remanufactured and fed down my throat in school. All peoples are capable of and do in fact commit unimaginable atrocities. The biggest constant of proportionality between the level of destruction of life and those who commit them is the means to do so. And never on this planet have we had a nation like the USA with the means to do so...Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Iraq, South American Contra stuff....on and on. Yet that's not the surprising bit...it's the success of the propaganda apparatus here that leads us to believe this is the land of all that is right.
  • 2 3
 Germany wiped out like 5 million people back in the 1940's I read once. I may be wrong cuz only the USA has the ability to do that
  • 4 0
 The Germans lost so they earned the dubious status of being the one and only group of people for a long time capable of that kind of evil. As long as the great USA reigns supreme, all her iniquities are but minor blemishes. When was the last time you heard a news network talk about the number of Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of our contrived war? And even the rather noble of our politicians who were against the war only cite our troop losses when they wish to talk about the human toll...however not once have I head a single of them shine significant light on the Iraqi suffering. Are we that much more important? Or it's because we are the saviors of the planet? or because we worship Christ and not Mohammed?
  • 3 1
 You miss my point. I don't blame Americans at all - they're all just passengers on this insane ride. If you don't support giving an incredibly poor country custom because they chose to fight back against us for invading their homeland then that's just not cool at all. A country can be broken and people can starve as a result of economic sanctions.
  • 1 3
 Hey Mango, your country was right there in the war/s too. Don't generalize, most Americans dissapporve of all the military actions overseas. Don't throw stones when you live in a glass house, Great Britian was the most imperialistic country in the history of the world at one time, but I don't hold that against you! @Hex your just a dick
  • 2 1
 Rickyretardo you truly live up to your nickname. I don't think anyone would argue that Britain isn't imperialistic, or devoid of faults. But pointing out Britain's faults to an American who thinks that his country hasn't violated anyones human rights would be a bit of a strange tact.

You have the wrong end of the stick but you're pointing it in the right direction.

"Don't throw stones when you live in a glass house," - Rickyretardo
  • 2 1
 mtbguy97 - "@MangoSentinel I don't think you really read both sides of the news on Israel man, both sides are killing innocents over there. "

This is by far the stupidest thing posted so far.
www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/deaths.html
  • 1 0
 And i guess someone never heard Black Eyed Peas song Wrong information always shown by the media Negative images is the main criteria Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity Whatever happened to the fairness and equality Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity
  • 1 3
 Thank you for setting us straight your royalness, get off your high horse HEX!
  • 3 2
 You my friend are a moron. The Gaza strip has launched thousands of missiles into Israel. You clearly don't know shit cuz you probably have never served nor grown up around any real military members.
  • 3 0
 @Mtbguy87 Nobody is disputing the fact that Palestine has fired rockets into Israel. You ignore the fact Palestine is literally being pushed into the sea by the IDF and illegal settlers, so what do you expect? You think their people are just going to stick their arses in the air and take Yiddish dick for 60 years?

The rocket attack (that killed no one) that kickstarted the current ethnic cleansing was in response to the targeted killing of a Palestinian political leader. That was the latest in hundreds of targeted assassinations conducted by the IDF and Mossad - the latter of whom have killed Arab dissidents in European countries, often killing civilians accidentally (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wrath_of_God).

Every action by Israel causes an opposite reaction, but I'm not both sides are innocent.
  • 3 0
 @Mtbguy87. Iraq, Guatemala (the US infected thousands of them with syphilis in a secret experiment....while we have apologized, our great justice system has ruled that they have no right to sue the US), Chile (we propped up Pinochet and turned a blind eye while he killed and tourchered 10's of 1000's), Mideastern terrorists (we support many of their dictators for as long as they offer American oil companies sweet oil deals), Nicaragua (for being the financial backbone of the Contras who killed and terrorized many--we also allowed them to trade drugs into the US to keep communists out of south America..all the while fighting the drug war and jailing many Americans).....by your logic, all these countries and many more have a right to lob whatever they can at US cities. You see where this is getting? As someone rightly said,.these atrocities are not hard to learn about..unless of course you're the recipient of "a good western education." So as citizens, rather than look at what others do, our first duty in international matters, is to hold our governments to task for how she treats others for if you turn a blind eye long enough, ..u know..what goes around....
  • 1 3
 @rifrafa2kees, Got any real proof?
So your telling us the average citizen of the US or any country is suppose to know the top secret missions of it's government? Keep reading ( and believing ) all that anti- American hate that's all over the internet. BTW where are you from? Nobody has a clue because your too chicken shit to post any details about yourself on your profile, not even a single pic. Your a joke with zero credibilty talking out your ass from the safety of your room, hiding behind a keyboard in your parents house.
  • 1 0
 rickyretardo.....If only you'd open your eyes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r42oejmpkgw ;here's our beloved Rumsfeld shaking hands with the late devil. There's a bit for you to see in living color. The rest are probably too complicated for you because you're hardened to anything contrary to what you believe. There's no malice in what I've said previously...the gist of my message is that governments don't define a people..they all are full of dodgy characters. Yes, it is your duty as a citizen of a nation with the one of the highest literacy rates of the world and access to all sorts of media pipelines to keep yourself informed. And for that I have no reason to hide..nor could I hide from those who have the ability to lock me up for what I say. And by the way...pics and so on don't mean anything. I live in knoxville, tn...great smoky mountains..beautiful country out here. Would you like my number so you can come kick my ass? Here's another link for you: www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1805220/Guatemala-syphilis-experiment
  • 2 0
 Amazing!!!!
  • 2 1
 That Afghan soldier didn't actually take his bike, did he?
  • 2 0
 Ha ha, He came back about 10 mins later with a massive smile on his face as you'd expect. CJ's remedy disappeared for well over an hour though.. kind of worrying..right when we were trying to pack our kit up after 12 days in the wilderness.
  • 1 0
 I really think mountain biking could save Afghanistan.
  • 5 0
 Having us spend dollars locally, employ a team of 6 Afghans for 12 days, plus jeep drivers and produce shop owners is an enormous help for local families in such areas. The Wakhan is incredibly poor, with little but nomadic sheep herding for income. Our trip helped break down barriers between "us and them", they laughed at us trying to ride their horses, we cheered at them trying our bikes. There was immense respect from both sides. The Wakhan people are some of the most friendly I have ever encountered. Tourism can grow here. Money can help build schools (like the Central Asia Institute ones we passed on the drive in) that can help promote peace through education. It all starts with an exchange of experiences like this.
  • 1 0
 Dan Milner, did you ever get your bike back?
  • 2 0
 Much as I'd have like to donate it to a local out there, I did get it back. Everywhere we went people wanted to try our bikes. In the furthest out part of the trip we were among people who'd never been on or seen a bike in the flesh before, and kids had not even held a wheel in their hands (wheels that far out are useless for locals). It was great to have them try bike riding and us to ride their horses and yaks. There was a LOT of laughter on both sides. Laughter is a great way to break boundaries. After that we drank tea together and we tried to ingest their rancid, sour Yak milk yoghurt....
  • 1 0
 Brave...
  • 2 5
 So please tell me.. is that enduro or is it more like freeride and having fun?
I dont care! Its just an awesome clip with tons of impressions.
  • 17 3
 why does everyone feel the need to put everything into separate genres and subcategories? "No man this isn't punk rock, it's melodic hardcore." "No those guys aren't metalcore, they're post progressive math rock" "No that's not all-mountain, it's agressive xc because you're on a 29er" "no this is freeride, cuz you're not on a race track so it can't be downhill"

why does it even matter? If you're on a bike, living life and having fun - then I would call that biking.

not trying to harsh the mellow, befablogsen, I'm just baffled by all the unnecessary categorization.
  • 5 0
 Amen brother. It's funny to everybody I know that doesn't ride I'm a mountain biker. To everybody I ride with I'm also a mountain biker. I love long distance, I love 2 min thrashes, I love bmx tracks, I love it all. And I especially love this. This ladies and gentleman IS mountain biking. Dudes on bikes riding down real mountains. It's unadulterated adventure. This is the very essence of mountain biking. Why the need to call it anything else is beyond me.

P.s. Where would you pigeon hole my fave band tortoise? Post rock/math/jazz? I've always wondered what they should be.
  • 2 1
 Sarcasm.
  • 1 2
 Too much talking Dan!!
  • 2 0
 Hey, It's a ride guide.. all that talking is narrative to give you the real experience :-).... if you want the real beautifully shot, less talkie, adventure masterpiece, then watch Anthill's Forgotten Dirt film from the same trip (link is shown at end of my film). The key here was to make sure my little episode wasn't just a repeat of theirs (as if it could be ha ha!)
  • 1 0
 A picture is worth a thousand words, less is more IMO. To each their own, love the adventure aspect though!
  • 2 0
 I always liked that reference to photography, especially having been a pro photographer for the last 15 years or more. Yep I am way too lippy, but if its pics you want (That hopefully really capture what we were doing there) then check the amazing flipbook gallery of images here: tinyurl.com/kg8fbcm . The trip was primarily for Bikemag. The story ran 16 pages in that mag late last year, plus appeared in MBUK, Bike Germany, SoloBici, Terringsykkel, enduromtb.com and more.. so hopefully you caught the pics and words there somewhere.

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