Day 24: Crossing Mashhad towards East
This is our second last day in Iran. Today and tomorrow we have to travel around 200 km east to the Turkmen border at Sarakhs, which should be doable with reasonable wind and weather conditions. But first we needed to cross the whole city of Mashhad, because Aresh’s home is on the western side of the city and the road to Sarakhs leaves on the East. This means around 20 km of cycling on highways and roads with heavy traffic.
Leaving on highways at noon
Last night we stayed up a bit longer to spend more time with our friendly hosts, so we delayed our departure until noon. At first we were afraid the heat would be too much at noon, but temperatures today were quite comfortable. From the small street we had to find our way to a boulevard, which then ended up in a highway with 3 to 4 lanes. Even though this is not so pleasant for cycling, it is still not the worst choice because if there are several lanes, trucks and cars have enough space to pass and hence we are not squeezed between the vehicles and the side of the road. After roughly 1 ½ hours we finally left Mashhad and reached the road towards Sarakhs.
Harassments to Lucie
So far there was only one incident since Shiraz when Lucie got harassed by some teenage men, but he got beaten up by some locals. Today was the second time. When cycling through the suburbs of Mashhad, some teenagers tried to make Lucie stop cycling and one of them kicked with his foot at her bike. Luckily nothing more serious happened, also thanks to some more grown-up locals who were ashamed of the behavior of their own youth (although, for me it is hard to say if those guys were immigrants from Afghanistan or Pakistan or actually Iranians). It’s a pity that a small number of men need to take such actions which harm the reputation of a whole country. Because everywhere else where we have been, Lucie has been treated with respect and nobody even thought of harassing her.
Highway towards Sarakhs
The road towards Sarakhs is more or less the least desirable for a cyclist. No beautiful scenery, tons of transit traffic with lots of trucks on one narrow lane per direction, dust, sand, and exhaust gases accumulating on our faces. We had quite a few vehicles passing with around 30 cm distance to us at full speed. Not very exciting for us cyclists. In the end I started riding next to the road in the gravel whenever I saw that there is traffic from both sides as dangerous manoeuvers are quite likely.
Romantic stop at Gas Station?
After 4 hours of head wind we stopped at a gas station to get some rest. Not much later, an employee of the gas station started talking to us, offered us tea and even took a carpet out of the local mosque so that we don’t have to sit on the stone at the gas station.
The employee seemed to like Lucie a lot. When I went to the bathroom for some minutes, he gently invited her in my absence to have an erotic adventure with him and his friends in the nearby mosque in the evening! Basically breaking all possible rules of Islam. It seems that despite all the repression here, some people are not that religious after all in Iran.
Another night at a local family in Abravan
Needless to say that Lucie kindly denied and we went on cycling until we reached a village named Abravan. There we found a family which lets us stay in their house overnight. 5 minutes after we arrived at their home and were shown around in the house, everybody left because they had some affairs to take care of in Mashhad. So basically we were alone in their home for a few hours. We could help ourselves with the food and drinks. I really admire how much the locals trust us.
Max elevation: 1046 m
Min elevation: 937 m
Total climbing: 580 m
Total descent: -675 m
Total Time: 06:20:59