Esfahan to Behesht-e Gomshodeh
When I come down the stairs early in the morning the lobby is filled with Dutch cyclists, well past middle age, in tight Lycra. Bit hard to stomach that early without breakfast. Here is a piece of advise: If you are cycling for fun, not trying to break records, you are fine not wearing tight Lycra shorts
Do the people around you a favor. I can only imagine the stares these guys get in Iran
Anyway, I extract the bike from the lobby and head over to Imam square for some hero shots. There are plenty of ways to sneak a bike in the square. Just watch the locals.
After the photo session I return to the hotel for a quick breakfast before leaving Esfahan. The first part of the trip is on a major highway with enough traffic to keep you on your toes.
Halfway Iím back in the mountains proper. There are small fields on either side of the road and in this part of the country the harvest seems to be a manual affair.
The cut wheat, I assume, is put into neat piles
to be thrashed on the spot with a portable machine
It will later be picked up by one of the ubiquitous blue pickups.
I spot a defunct Selcuk bridge just off the road
and a little stream makes for a nice rest stop.
I stop at the ďPersian GateĒ for a picture.
This is a narrow passage in the mountains where the Persians unsuccessfully tried to stop Alexander the Great on his way to Persepolis in the winter of 330 BC. It was an heroic battle of 700 Persians vs. 10,000 Macedonians, which sealed the fate of the first Persian empire. So, Iím pretty much following their tracks on the way there. There is not much in the area in terms of infrastructure even now and I briefly wonder how they could sustain such a huge army back then. Iím briefly lost but then return to the same road to continue on to the Margoon waterfall. Just before I pass the Persian Gate a second time I see a two car head on collision. The cars are trashed but the drivers seem to be at least alive. A timely reminder to be ready for anything on these roads.
Up in the mountains I see more nomad camps.
Road signs indicate that this road would take me all the way to Yazd, although my map doesnít show this. This would be a nice way to go there for somebody following my tacks.
The Margoon falls are very nice and there are plenty of Iranians around camping and having a picnic. the falls just seem to shoot out in the middle of a huge rock face.
Unfortunately the camp sites are too far away from the parking lot and there is already too much interest in my bike. So, I decide to move on to Behest-e Gomshodeh, or ďLost ParadiseĒ, a mere 35 km as the crow flies. So I ride off into the sunset, down a dirt road through beautiful countryside.
All the little villages along the way seem almost deserted
The goats are brought home just before sunset.
There are many forks in the road and I have to ask for directions a lot. At some point a bunch of people gesticulate wildly and make me understand to cross to the other side of a river, although my map indicates otherwise I do so. This puts me back on tarmac but it turns out there is no way to get back to the other side until about 10km after my destination. Thus I arrive at my destination with a bit of a detour in the dark. There are bright lights and loud music when I arrive and Iím not quite sure what to do. So I go to one of the restaurants. They have takhts set into the river and there is one tent on one of them. I have dinner and pitch my tent on one of the takhts in the middle of the river.
Just when Iím falling asleep, thinking this ainít so bad, there is a lot of noise outside and the hole takht starts shaking. Turns out they are building a suspension bridge just outside my tent in the middle of the night. The wires for the lights they have strung everywhere are sheafing on the suspension bridge cables and the frame of my takht. Hm, sitting on a metal frame in the middle of a body of water with some 220V cables sheafing on the frame doesnít sound good. Before I can say anything the power goes out but the guys are persistent and unsuccessfully try to start a little generator for more than an hour. Meanwhile I reroute the cables to a safer spot. They get the generator going a few times but the load is just too big, which they donít seem to realize. When the show is finally over I get some sleep.