Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 125 (Iran): Galugah - Maziyaran (can you let me sleep?)

daily distance: 115km
total distance: 7511km
riding time: 6h

Early start and some good progress marked the morning. And the beauty of the whole thing was that I had the road to myself. What you ask? You are in Iran, you have a road to yourself? You must be dreaming! I was not and had to pinch myself when I was coasting on what was the old road that parallels the new highway, but runs much closer to the mountains for about 35km before being thrown back no the main highway. Sayed didn’t want to go along on the scouting mission … he missed out on some great and easy cycling on mostly smooth roads with pretty much zero traffic.

The area reminded me of the Rhine valley in some sense, albeit only on one side. The other is steppe. And it’s a bit warmer than at home. But the southern side is very similar, starting with foothills developing into higher mountains, all of which is covered with lush evergreen forest.

After 60km it was time to take a longer break and sure enough I met a German-Iranian who gave me the contact information for his relatives in Mashhad, the next major port of call. The internet cafe’s owner refused payment for the long time I spent there trying to upload some pictures, the upload being painfully slow.

The only event of real significance happened when I was about to leave Gorgan. It was hot, really hot and I have been riding with shorts, making sure that I am wearing long pants when off the bike for more than a couple of minutes. I was about to leave and was just slapping more sunscreen on my legs when I was approached pretty aggressively by a young man. He couldn’t have been more than 17 years old. Nothing seemed particularly odd about him, but he was unhappy about the shorts, that much was clear. He played around with his buckle and I thought, no need for you to drop your pants too. I understand that some people may not be happy about the sight, but have been assured by countless people now that wearing bike shorts on the bike is OK - not only by Northern Tehranis by the way. This guy wasn’t having any of it. Once he started pushing and pulling on my bike I had it. You can do anything to me, but leave the bike alone. This was not just the usual touching, but pretty heavy tearing on the cables and the like. The store owner where I had just bought some water and another one came into the scene. I never touched the guy, just trying to reason sort of, trying to show that I am biking. Thanks to the two intervenors the situation calmed down, one of them pretty much manhandling him while I was heading out. Something like this was almost to be expected given the area I am in which is more conservative. But it does serve as a stark reminder that matters here are taken into their own hands at times and that you can be on your own. But to tell the whole story, I am greeted with just as many smiles as everywhere else in this part.

The rest of the day was uneventful - had to take a heat break as I was overheating and found a little village where I was allowed to pitch on the local football pitch. The number of visitors was somewhat on the high side … and the picture shows only the small first wave.


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