Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 98 (Iran): Tabriz - Miyaneh

daily distance: 174km
total distance:
riding time: 8-9h

I bid farewell to Aydin and his family. It was one of those moments that one the one hand make this trip hard - because it is one of those emotional moments, but at the same time so worthwhile because you have had the good fortune to meet up with wonderful and great people.

Starting at 7am was a good idea - despite having to fight the already heavy city traffic that seemed to be going on and on for miles and miles. Smoke was belching from big trucks and conveniently right into my face for the most part. Not so much fun - plus the city stretches for miles on end it seemed. It was all uphill for the next 40km or so. There was a good amount of friendly honking though I can not for the life of me get used to the loud honking powered by gas horns when the trucks are right next to me.

Still trailing in heavy traffic I eventually reached the top of the pass and headed downhill to a lake and a city by the name of Bostanabad. This was the goal to reach until lunch time. Temperatures had dropped a lot compared to the last days though there was still a heavy headwind that I had to fight.

When I arrived in Bostanabed I took this picture thinking that it was kind of humorous (OK, so this may just be me thinking this is funny, but the light remained the same all the time).

At any rate, I moved on and tried to get my bearings and take a quick break. Next thing I know, there was a police car next to me, signaling me to stop. Alright I thought, you guys are bored, there is a foreigner in town and now we take a look at the passport and then we’ll let him move on. I had been quite successful at avoiding this kind of stuff for a while now by putting on a big smile, yelling some city name that I knew was ahead of me and waiting for the direction being signaled.

The police stopped someone on the street who knew English and he explained to me that there was no problem, but it was clear that he was uncomfortable with the situation so I told him that he should feel free to move on and not worry about me. The police force increased from 2 to 8 rapidly with a similar increase in the position of the officials. In the end, the police chief came, I still had no idea why I was held - someone was waving my passport and no one could give me an answer as to the question why I was being held. Then they said something about a camera. I said, sure I had one and they were welcome to take a look at the pictures. It dawned on me that someone must have informed the police that I had taken this picture. It was the only one that morning. Hm … 10 minutes later they had been there.

Then things became a bit uncomfortable for me. The uniform guys are OK to deal with, but at some point the mood shifted and I noticed a plain clothes officer milling around in the background. Things had changed, the mood of the uniformed guys was extremely referential and I overheard talk about the police station and the foreigner police. That was no good - I figured that it was a good thing that I had the number of the German embassy handy just in case. This was only a contingency, but things become very real all of a sudden. Then the crowd dissipated, I was given my passport back and everyone was gone. I stood there and didn’t quite know what to make of this situation. If this was supposed to be an advertisement for Iran, it didn’t quite work …

I also felt a bit oppressed … hard to say what exactly went on. They never told me, but I felt intimated for sure for a while. Maybe that was the purpose of the exercise. There was nothing in the background of the picture that I could see that would have been problematic. Slight self-censorship followed during the rest of the day …

I had lunch after a power outage stopped me from doing some updating work (these things are rather frequent and some cities there is a schedule for the outages).

When I moved on the wind had changed dramatically. It was fully in my back now and I could fly on at 35km/h and more on the straights. I covered an insane amount of km during the next hour or so until the wind was again in my face for the rest of the day.

The valley I was riding through was gorgeous and because I was lacking some food, I decided to head to Miyaneh knowing that I wouldn’t move from there any more. I covered 174km today in total and I was shot.

When I arrived I was helped by three young guys who saw me asking for directions in a store. They pointed me to a hotel first (way out of my league) and we found another small and happy-cheap one with clean bathrooms and linens. It was great. On the way there I was again approached by two men in a car about prostitution. Seems like it is a common thing. They first asked whether I was interested in women and when I said thanks and moved on whether I was interested in men. Nope, neither. A slight argument followed.

Then out for dinner - it was great fun, including an English lesson for the owner. Again, conversations were extremely enlightening. Thanks so much for the help guys.



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