I know it will be a long day so I leave Khorramabad early, apparently too early to get some breakfast. I get gas at the other end of town because the gas station in front of my hotel has been closed since yesterday. With some help I get out of town and with a lot of asking I find the road through the Zagros mountains. The mountain roads have been spectacular so far and I want to continue to ride them as much as possible. Itís another beautiful day and along meadows sprinkled with poppies,
past nomadís tents
I ride to the small village of Bished
where I park my bike and take a ten minute hike to a waterfall below the village.
The waterfall is stunningly beautiful, just donít turn around because the place is completely trashed. People have managed to haul the junk here. Why they canít take it with them I will never understand. On my way back to the bike a family starts talking to me and we study the map together. As I thought, I have to ride back 20km before Iíll be able to continue through the mountains to Esfahan. The men tells me I know the roads better than him. I donít know about that.
In the next village I see a bunch of dead sheep lined up at the side of the road and blood stains on the road. Intended killing or road kill? Probably the later, otherwise they wouldnít be laying in the midday sun, I hope. A dog is taking a bite.
I carry on for a while and eventually make my way down through some switchbacks to dusty Sefid Dasht, which sits in a small valley surrounded by high mountains.
The town looks a bit rough around the edges, as you would expect in this location. I stop and buy some cold drinks and food, since I havenít had anything to eat yet. I ride out of town, up the mountains on the other side and the road deteriorates rapidly. I drive through a number of goat herds and the herders confirm that this is my road. I spot a shaded place next to a little stream and decide to take my lunch break.
After lunch I find myself once again on good tarmac after a few more kilometers. I pass many nomad tents and tiny villages
with beautiful mountain backdrops.
Once again the tarmac disappears and I find myself on a dirt road. I come across two guys trying to fix a broken down dozer and confirm once more that this is my road. They invite me for tea but I want to keep moving. I just hope the dozer hasnít been broken for long and the road is in a reasonable shape. I climb up a mountain again and reach the pass at 2960m. The road forks a few times on the way up and I stay on what looks like the most used road
On the pass I meet an older couple from Aligudarz who confirm my choice of road and invite me for tea and cookies. As I come down itís just dry dusty mountains.
The road now alternates between dirt, excellent tarmac, and disintegrated tarmac and I have to go slow, never knowing what is around the next bend. As the area flattens out I look back one last time before heading to the highway
OK, one more look
Once I reach the highway Iím surprised how well maintained it is and how little traffic there is. Itís four lanes with about 200m between the opposite directions. I let it rip and sure enough I get pulled over by a cop with a laser gun. Luckily I was only doing 110 km/h in that section which is the speed limit. He wants to see my passport and asks me where Iím from. Ah Germany, he points to his parked Mercedes and says ďVery goodĒ. He then gives me the sign to go slow and waves me on. Very nice cop. I see a few more radar traps along the way but they leave me alone. At one point the semi in front of me decides to switch lanes for no apparent reason, as they often do, and I have to hit the breaks hard. As I do this my pants are getting wet. Oops, what just happened? Not what you think. I hit the breaks hard enough to slide forward in my seat and the mouthpiece of my camel bag gets caught between me and the tank bag and releases some water. Nice and cool. I should do this more often.
At a gas station I have something to eat and have a chat with a Kurdish biker gang (their words) on 50cc motorcycles. I use the Zumo with the Iman Square GPS coordinates and the location of the river to find the way to my hotel without a single wrong turn. Just 1km before my hotel an overzealous cop pulls me over and wants to see the passport again. He doesnít say a word and waves me on. I check into the trusty Iran Hotel, where I have stayed on my last visit, and three of us maneuver the bike up some stairs into the lobby where it now sits under the hijab. After a shower I walk down the street to the Venice restaurant. The only thing authentically Italian about this place are the snotty waiters - one with a recent nose job - but they have a salad buffet and pasta. A welcome break from the monotonous Iran restaurant kebabs.
Read in the next installment how a caffeine overdose keeps me Esfahan