Thursday, April 20, 2006


I had expected to reach somewhere just before Tabriz & spend the night as the previous 2, in the woods. I had arranged to stay with a friend of a contact in Mashhad, in the North-East near the Turkmen & Afghan borders. However I made such good time that I arrived early.

Just after passing through Marand, about 2/5 of the way I bumped into, Etiene a South African touring cyclist. From Marand the road rose quite steadily. Having someone to chat to on the road seemed to make things go faster. In no time we were at the summit of the road then there was a long gentle decline all the way to Tabriz. Unfortunately once at the outskirts of Tabriz Etiene started having one of those days that cyclists dread, an unrepairable puncture, exacerbated by a lack of spares. Instead of arriving at around 5pm we limped into Tabriz at a bit after 7pm.

There met with a friends of my host to be, Hanif then later the host Bagher. Hanif was to act as translator as my host, Bagher didn't speak English. Both Hanif nor Bagher were very hospitable considering that Id arrived early & with a friend instead of alone. Hanif was a student of English Language & Literature & a keen talker who maintained communication with Bagher the whole evening. He was a great guy with plenty to say & lots of good advise but he really needed to learn to relax & take his 'responsibiiities' as a guide a little less seriously.

Both were enthusiastic cyclists & from the meeting place we had the most intense 'cycling in traffic' experience that I've ever had in my life. On coming in Tabriz didn't seem to be particularly large, the centre was close to the outskirts. However its rush hour traffic was quite something. We weaved our way along the main road of central Tabriz, mostly 3 lanes in each direction, that was full of slow moving (fortunately) honking cars that switched lanes, stopped & pulled with little notice. It seemed chaos but wasn't as I saw no accidents & no rancor in the drivers. It was a fun ride, very adrenaline charged.

After a great shower at Bagher's place we chatted about Etienne's & my planned route in Iran then cycled uptown for a meal & a walk around the city park where met Majid, a friend of Bagher's. The whole day was easily the longest day of the trip, on the road at 8am & in bed at 2am.

I cycled 128 km in 8 hours & 6 minutes

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