Latest Update From HumanPowerRound The World
Date: 4th December 99 - Location: Tehran Iran
Update covering period from Day 62 to Day 74 - 22/11 to 4/12/99
From Dogubeyazit Turkey to Tehran Iran - Distance covered - 915km
The view as we left Dogubeyazit was a view that I had been praying for for days - a clear sky and bright sunshine with Turkey's highest Mountain SPlendiforous in the background. Mount Agri is the alleged resting place of Noahs Ark - true or not, it is a most beautiful sight with shimmering white snow cap. Unfortunately Andrew went down ill from this day for the next few and struggled hard against his headache to cover the 40km to bring us to the Border. A monstrous queue of lorries trying to leave Turkey sat motionless as we sailed past to the front of the line - Andrew wincing with nausea, I somewhat concerned for the formalilities of the crossing. Our first brush with the Turkish official was not promising - 'IRAN - BICYCLE - NO!' - oh dear! With a bit of a hunt around I maanaged to find a more senior official and our problem was ironed out. We were then herded through into a nondescript room, where we awaited a call from the Iranians. These officials were much more couteous and welcomed us in to their country with open arms. Soon after an introductory chat from a Tourism official we were freewheeling down into Bazarghan, we had made it to IRAN - the Islamic Republic - Long Sleeves on and Long Trousers rolled down!
The ride to Tabriz has taken us through some mountainous scenery as wonderful as that which we left in Turkey and has also seen us crossing some desolate deserts - but we are clearly now a long way from home - Iran is a proud and independant nation - but also one full of friendly and curiuous faces. We have had our bills waived for tea on numerous occasions and have been allowed to stay for free on prayer room floors. This on one occasion was interrupted by a gaggle of devout Muslims storming in and starting their headbowing routine - Andrew and I fought hard to contain our laughter - what on earth are we doing here? Food is really great - typical meals consist of soup, puffy rice and kebabs freshly cooked and finished off with Yoghurt for afters - including drinks and a liberal smattering of Chai - the bill rarely tops 3 pounds for 2. Another interesting discovery has been the locally produced variety of Worthers Original Sweets - which in Iranian are referred to as Walimeh Originals - 'Taste Just Like you Remeber'- we wonder if anyone does actually remember - but they do taste SMASHING!
We have had 2 bites at the Visa Extension Cherry - and are today awaiting news on whether we have sufficient validity to complete our ride unhurried through the Southern Deserts - but we are hopeful. Our first try was in Tabriz and secondly in Tehran - fingers crossed.
In Tabriz we found a magnificent hotel(relatively to a prayer room floor that is!) - by the name of Hotel Ghods - which charged us the princely sum of 5 pounds per night. This bought us a spotless room and an ensuite bathroom with a proper sit down toilet - althought the flush didn't quite work. Tea is delivered to the room for 20p a pot and the staff were really helpful- RCOMMENDED! Whilst staying here we had a covering of snow and this stayed on the ground for the next 6 days - all the way to Tehran.
Our day out of Tabriz should have been a breeze at only 65km - deliberately easy - but we found a stiff climb up to about 1900m above sea level. This was more than compensated for by the beautiful scenery - a mountainous skyline with deep orange and purple sunset - which we enjoyed as we pedalled. The temperature however was not so enjoyable and we found our fingers gradually freezing one by one - we made a guesthouse with 2 fingers remaining concious and when the others returned we both got terrible chillblains!
One day gave us a terrible headwind of around 45mph we estimate in the middle of the day. Andrew reported that our forward velocity dropped to only 10 kmh on the flat - we got excited when we reached the adrenaline charged heights of 16kmh! - This night we ended up cycling along the main road in the dark - desperately trying to reach our days target - and we though to ourszelves - 'This is a main road in Iran - not the back road down from the Quantock Hills to Taunton - this is not very sensible to be out riding!' We did have a front and rear light - but Iranian driving is not confidence inspiring!
The next days trial was TORTURE by snow, as we awoke to find a complete whiteout- the road surface initially completely covered and we skiddded along - speedway style! This would have been great fun normally - but we had 120km to cover in our chase to renew our visas! - The surface eventually did come back into sight and we soon found ourselves up to our ankles in Slush - although the air temperature must have been well below freezing as we progressively watched our bikes turn into ice blocks. Neither of us has ever seen a bike look like this before! The panniers had icicles hanging from them - the spokes were enlarged by a coating of ice running their entire length and to cap it all the rear mech became completely frozen - meaning that towards the end of the day we were unable to change gear - only with manual intervention - ie stopping clearing off the ice with a stone and yanking the mech. across! All good fun really! The icing (no pun intended) on our cake was completed when we discovered that we would have another 50 km from Abyek to the next main town if we wanted to stay in a hotel that night, and neither of us really fancied the bivvies much - so we were welcomed into a local home for food and warm shower and to tell stories about England to our hosts. Thankyou Mr Amir - we are very grateful to you - both from Mr Richard and from Mr Angelew (local pronuncuation of Andrew).
Our last day into Tehran did give some respite as once the snow had melted we were treated to a downhill and the sun actually came out to play. Andrew and I pulled into Tehran beneath the enormous Freedom Monument at around 4pm both exhausted but elated - feeling as if another milestone had been acheived. We crashed into bed early with raging headaches - we think from a combionation of brightness to the eyes from the snow glare and a deydration factor from the night before where we could not drink the local water that we were offered - and thought it rude to put Puritabs in the jug that Mr Amir ceremoniously placed on the tablecloth spread out on the floor!
We shall spend 2 days in Tehran chasing visas and filling up on as many nice sweets as we can find, and then my friends the adventure shall Continue - ADVENTURE ON FRIENDS - We're off to the cake shop!
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