DAY FIVE… 36.75 miles (59 km)

Earlyish start, as it wasn’t raining (8.30am). It was pleasantly cool and overcast. We drove about 7km out of Kashan and then began our ride. The road was good, not too busy and Medhi drove behind us much of the time, stopping to make us tea en route (so welcome).

Unloading & setting up our bicycles at the edge of Kashan. A daily ritual.
Rolling hills. Or “a few small bumpy bits” as Tim calls them.

Today was the day we cycled right past the nuclear enrichment facility. We rode through as a cohesive group and it was all without problems. I had read quite a bit about this before leaving the UK and some cyclists had been apprehended and were worried that they might have been arrested. But we just sailed past. Yes, there were lots of anti-aircraft, watch-towers, a very high fence and guards, but Ali did stop and chat to the guards and explain what we were doing, but we were waved on in a friendly way.

Our lunch stop was at the junction of the road up to Abyaneh. We had a fantastic picnic…. cheese, tuna, bread, hardboiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, pomegranate, melon and some very fermented yogurt.  I had Indian ready-meal poha (brought from the UK) instead of bread. All this was completed with a cup of tea and one of Barb’s amazing baklava; full of nuts and rosewater. The most delicious ever !!!

We began our ascent to Abyaneh. A gradually climbing road, following a green river valley, in stark contrast with the very dry and barren mountains. By this time, Anna’s “cold” had become pretty nasty and she had to resort to antibiotics and resting in the van.

Road to Abyaneh. Mountains calling us.

I was really enjoying being in the mountains and the feeling of space. However, about 10km short of Abyaneh, three massive dogs lunged at me from across the road. I got off my bike and put it between them and the three attackers. No one else in sight. I moved slowly away but they kept coming, from different directions. Eventually, the owner called them off, just as Ali was coming to my rescue. I was absolutely terrified, and my confidence in Iran being a safe country as far as dogs were concerned, was shattered.

Abyaneh was a strange and manicured “heritage” village with very few people actually living in it. The few that were there dressed up in traditional dress and sat about, posing for tourists?

A strange & manicured “heritage” village
Everyday traditional dress. Or posing for tourists?

The hotel was modern and quite busy. The food really horrible… disgusting veggie balls, some kale, yoghourt broth and some dried-up rice, oh and the favourite, aubergine dish, kashke bademjan.