Tuesday, May 30, 2006


It was with regret that I left Mohammad's house. He'd been a perfect host, making me feel welcome & comfortable in his home & helping me to get a bunch of things done that I couldn't have done myself.

He escorted me out to the road to Sarakhs, from where I continued alone. As soon as I got out of town the wind picked up. It was a stiff headwind & lasted the whole day. I fear that this wind continues after crossing into Turkmenistan, which I fear it will, that the ride through that country will be tough. I spent almost all day in the gear range reserved for climbing hills even though the road was mostly flat. This is where the second problem came in, the small cog on my crankset is very worn, so much so that the new chain doesn't fit over it well. Fortunately it's only making an alarming sound & not skipping. I agonised over whether I should have returned to Mashhad to get it changed but decided that since it was only sounding bad but not skipping that it ought to last through to wherever a replacement can be found, hopefully in Uzbekistan.

I put on my Ipod to distract me from the wind, settled into a low gear & watched the countryside pass by slowly. The road was a fairly busy one with lots of diesel driven trucks spewing black exhaust fumes, though the wind quickly dispatched this. one good point about it. On one side a pipeline was under construction, perhaps to bring gas from Turkmenistan. I passed by a number of Nomad settlements beside the highway. Each camp had a dozen or modern looking tents. I could only see woman & children. The woman weren't shy as settled Iranian woman are, at least when talking to men. I stopped beside one & an old woman came over & talked to me. The road ran parallel to a range of hills that looked like someone's spine then started to cross over it. Between the road & the range was the wide bed of a mostly dry river. Wheat fields covered the rolling hills on the other side.

I stopped for the night in a town part the way up. I was completely done. I found a camping spot in a grove of trees in the middle of a wide switchback. There was a fair bit of traffic noise but the wind in the trees covers it a bit. I was right beside a military base. Read coming day's installment to see whether I got arrested as a spy. The air had a chill to it after Sundown even though the altitude was the same as that of Mashhad which was very warm in the evening.

I cycled 104 km in 7 hours & 45 minutes
Total so far 5830 km in 82 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 36°09.565, E 60°32.290

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