The world is NOT a big, happy, adventurous playground . . .

. . . and, with surprising frequency, people who assume it is, die for their mistake.  The latest victims were a cycling foursome in Tajikistan.

[JAY Austin and Lauren Geoghegan] dropped everything in pursuit of a worldwide adventure in July 2017 — but it would eventually lead to them being horrifically killed for being “unbelievers”.

The well-travelled couple, both 29, kept a detailed blog and Instagram posts which revealed an incredible trip reaffirming their faith in humanity and seeing them reach some of the world’s most untouched paradises.

The in-depth online accounts show there were moments of tenderness, euphoric highs and difficulties for the adventurous pair from Washington DC.

However, just over a week ago, on day 359 of their life-changing trip, it all came to a horrific end when they were cycling with a group of other tourists on a scenic stretch of road in southwestern Tajikistan.

They were travelling along the Pamir Highway, a Soviet-era road that stretches across 2000km near the border with Afghanistan and has spectacular views, when a carload of men who are believed to have recorded a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group spotted them.

They sped towards the group of tourists, rammed them, jumped out and attacked the cyclists with knives. The horrendous slaying was captured on grainy footage from the attackers — who also took the lives of one Dutch and one Swiss national.

Just days later, the Islamic State released a video showing five men it identified as the attackers, sitting in front of the ISIS flag. They face the camera and make a vow: to kill “disbelievers”.

Their world view was fundamentally at odds with what Ms Geoghegan and Mr Austin believed — they saw the world as a warm, welcoming place where strangers would commit random acts of kindness every day.

. . .

Friends and wellwishers posted messages of condolences on the American victims’ SimplyCyling Instagram page.

One, Robert Renner, wrote: “My condolences to the family and friends of Jay and Lauren.” Another, Angela Wuerth, wrote: “I’m so sad that something so tragic could happen to such beautiful, kind people.”

There’s more at the link.

They may have been beautiful, they may have been kind . . . BUT THEY WERE ALSO UNBELIEVABLY, CRASSLY, UNCONSCIONABLY STUPID!!!

With Islamic fundamentalist terrorism spreading across Asia in the wake of ISIS’s defeat in Syria and Iraq, anyone with half a working brain cell could have predicted that something like this attack was inevitable.  Terrorists don’t need guns to be dangerous.  Vehicles and knives will be more than adequate if their victims aren’t able to defend themselves . . . and cyclists traveling in a foreign country are very unlikely indeed to be armed.  Basically, these travelers presented themselves on a plate as an inviting, can’t-resist-the-temptation target to a bunch of cowardly, murderous thugs.

Now their parents have to mourn the loss of their children, and their friends get to post inane, abysmally stupid condolences like that mentioned above.  Will any of them learn anything from this tragedy?  I beg leave to doubt it.



  1. Lives tragically shortened, but one could imagine they've lived more of a life in that one year than many of us ever will. I will never begrudge a life lost to misadventure, avoidable though it may be, because at least they were doing something.

  2. Years ago I read an essay by one of my favorite travel writers. A young man had taken a 'break year' to kayak the Amazon, and had been killed. The reader was supposed to sympathize with the young fool and his devastated family.

    My thought? If you are going to play in an area plagued by drug dealers, wildcat gem and gold prospectors, a smoldering border war, and (justifiably) grumpy natives, kiss your family goodbye, 'cause you ain't coming back.

  3. They were a product of their mis-education.

    Imagine teaching in a vortex of PC and 'compassion' where you're trying to right the injustice of prejudice against an oppressed population, so much so that you miss passing on essential information, like, say, "AIDS is a communicable disease that we do not currently have an effective treatment for, and if you catch it you'll catch a bunch of other things that will kill you. You can contract AIDS in the following ways…"

    Yes, gay men were (and are) marginalized, AND they developed a culture that made catching AIDS more likely, AND AIDS sufferers (not gay) were marginalized for catching the 'gay cancer'. Even if the first and last things in that last statement are unjust on general principles of "don't marginalize people", it does not follow that the education should just jump straight to "Don't marginalize AIDS sufferers!" without still hitting the same points of disease characteristics, communicability and lifestyle choices that result in elevated risk. In fact, the entire process that led to those results could be a cautionary tale that reinforces the principles of anti-marginalization and how to be wary of social pressures that might lead you to unjustly marginalizing a group of people.

    But… if you aren't actually against marginalization, but only against marginalization when it is convenient to your political cause and A-OK if the marginalization Other-izes your political opponents… you just might be an asshole.

  4. Reading back about them both- such shallow and selfish people. They show no desire to help others. Every day I meet many people who have happier, more productive lives.

  5. It reminds me of that story of the kid who took off into the Alaskan wilderness & starved to death.
    Yah, here it is: Christopher McCandless, subject of the book by Krakauer, Into the Wild.

    As with suicides, these bikers are dead & can no longer experience human joy or suffering, but the enduring sorrow that they have bequeathed to their families is immeasurable.

  6. I read the words cycling and Tajikistan and knew how the story ended. And behold, I was right.

    I heard from my neighbors a few days ago, that the nice of one of them was bagpacking through Africa. Started at Johannisburg and moved northward towards central Africa. I had the same thought. Luckily in this instance she made it back, but it was pure luck.

    Sorry to say it, but some places are simply not civilized. And the vast majority is in the southern part of the World. Africa, South America, South Asia. Treating these places like the western Civilization is suicide in the Ankh-Morpork definition.
    Well, at least it is good for the gene-pool (that was sarcasm for those who have to be told that).

  7. they probably lived more in their last ten seconds of life than others of their generation have. how sad. well, that does it for eliminating the ignorant from the gene pool. i know that sound harsh but well, thats the net result of their activity. they won't be raising children and passing on their genes for society's future generations and that is sad. one never knows where the next Einstein or Jesus or Teller or Mohammad will come from.
    Who's next?

  8. Darwin Awards, First Class, Team category

    Cycling Tajikistan, or any other -stan, without your own AK?

    Never wear your meat suit to a shark feeding swim.

  9. And FTR, there is nothing "tragic" about their deaths.

    What's tragic is that they robbed oxygen and groceries for nearly three decades from people better-suited to life in the real world.

  10. The only thing tragic about these idiots is people are seeing them as heroes and examples to emulate.

    My personal feelings is, the more idiots that self-slab themselves, the better. Sorry, it's harsh, but screw them. They had all the opportunity to stop their foolishness, almost as if God himself was telling them to not do it. All their previous issues before getting killed remind me of the story about the guy on a roof during a flood praying for help, and refusing the large truck, the boat and then the helicopter before finally dying and then whining to God that he wasn't saved, only to have God say he sent a truck, a boat and a helo..

    It's like those idiots who want to vacation in the 'Real Mexico' and not the tourist enclaves. Please. Do go. Please fill out your will first. Don't expect anyone to come save your sorry rear ends when you get yourself in trouble.

    Like those idiots, sorry Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier, who go to Red China to take a trip into North Korea. What? Go to one of the most totalitarian regimes and screw up and expect a slap on the wrist? Gee, might as well wear a bikini (whether one is male or female) and go on Hajj while having the Stars and Stripes tattooed across your back with a bottle of Jack in one hand and a Virginia Ham in the other.

    Feckless idiots. These are the true Ugly Americans. Liberal Airheads. The type that end up causing international incidents as better people blunder around trying to protect these idiots from themselves.

    Stupid like this is how you get regulations requiring instructions on a paint bucket to NOT put a baby headfirst in a full bucket.

    Sorry, the stupid, it burns.

  11. AIDS/HIV is the only Sexually Transmitted Disease with special protections around notification or transmission.

    No requirement to identify your exposed partners to local Public Health officials.

    When selling a house in California you must disclose if there were any deaths in the home unless it was a result of AIDS.

    The act of intentionally exposing a partner to HIV/AIDS was recently downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.

  12. I suppose they figured after cycling in D.C. (something that should give any halfway sane cyclist [Yes, there are such. They get funny looks from the idiots blowing through the stop signs] pause, I'd expect) that they figured they could do that, too. Excuse me whilst I channel Gomer Pyle (I think?) "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"

  13. I've a daughter that has traveled a far greater amount of the world than I ever will and done so safely. One thing she did, however, was become friends with the head of security at the US embassy in Brussels (and his wife). She checked with him before traveling anywhere. We hear about the published dangers; he knew about all the others. Some countries don't have any "good" areas.

    Luckily, she doesn't need extra prompting. She knows personally several of the people injured in the airport bombing in Brussels a couple of years ago. It becomes very real when you see a friend on the news covered with blood.

  14. What Sherm said. Checking with the State Dept., checking for travel advisories, checking with real news orgs, while planning any trip oversees.

    I pretty much use these rules for travelling within the US, purposely going out of the way not to travel through questionable areas.

    Once again, Common Sense isn't so common after all.

  15. "…they saw the world as a warm, welcoming place where strangers would commit random acts of kindness every day"

    And this proves that they were complete morons, and the world is better of without them.

  16. I've been to Dushanbe, about a dozen years ago now. There was a pond from an open sewer at the heart of the public park in the center of the capitol. The premier hotel in the capitol was a compound with three, three story houses on it. One toilet/shower per building. Lots of devout Muslims. I even saw a bride kidnapping while I was there. "Very ethnic," as Sir Pterry wrote.

    Almaty is a much nicer place to visit. It even has an historical wooden cathedral, built without nails.

  17. mccandles/into the wild was an example of death by misadventure and not being prepared for the environment in which you are operating….timothy treadwell/grizzly man is another…maybe more apt to this situation.

    travel breaks down barriers, fosters understanding and helps people understand one another – you can encounter and enjoy some universal human similarities….but you have to understand that when it comes down to it, a bear is a bear and you shouldn't be surprised when a bear goes all bear on your ass.

    these folks were travelling in bear country and that penny just never dropped. willfully ignorant?

    some laud them for having "done things"…but what they did was dumb.

    travelling without understanding the terrain and blithely going along in a happy bubble where they must have assumed everyone put the same premium on life that they did.

    so yeah, they did things alright….some really dumb things.

  18. I have 2 sisters who… well… 1 has lived overseas for the past 12 years now, and the other travels extensively overseas for her work, and she lived for a year in Astana, Kazakhstan as well.

    For the one who "lives overseas" — she's always been something of a homebody, so she doesn't actually travel much when she's not working, preferring to stay home and read, listen to music, and watch old movie musicals. When she has traveled in the places she's lived, it's always been as part of a guided tour, or with a large group of friends/coworkers and sticking to well-traveled touristy areas. This has seen her safe living as a single white American woman in Dubai (4 years), Shanghai (4 years) and Sohar, Oman (3 years), and now 2 years in Delhi.

    The other sister usually has her husband with her on trips, and they tend to be all work, no play anyway, so she's always with a lot of people. When they lived in Kazakhstan they took a few trips in to the country and down to Almaty, but always with local friends who knew the lay of the land — where to go, where to avoid — so it all worked out for them.

    Amazing how different choices keep them safe, no?

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