DAY FIFTEEN… 53.5 miles (85.5 km)

Woke to a beautiful sunny morning and snow-covered mountains across the valley.  Headed up the Tang-e Boraq gorge, past the camping site that Tim and I had discovered earlier, when we researched this place on Google Maps, to a waterfall and a hot spring which also fed into the river. There were big limestone cliffs on either side. It was all still quite muddy and we couldn’t face even more clay today, so we headed back into the van, and had an 80km ride to the top of a pass.

Tang-e Boraq gorge

Another fantastic ride through the mountains, with mountains on both sides, some snow-capped. At the top of the pass we rode 9 miles down to the town, and there wasted a lot of time, as we managed to lose Ali by taking a slightly different route; we took the quiet back road and he took the main road.

Big lorries overtaking, with lots of side here

We then had tea and coffee which seemed to take absolutely ages. Each cup of coffee was lovingly crafted and tea had to be fetched from somewhere else.  Altogether this all took about an hour.

Lunch spot… washing grapes & tomatoes

Tim and I had hoped to reach Abarkooh, a 50 miles ride altogether. We rode through a lovely leafy town, roads lined with plane trees, for miles, across flat plains (‘desert’), a kind of muddy, stony, spiny scrub, not at all as I imagined (large dunes, sandy, amazingly beautiful, camels…). By this time, we were cycling on very big dual carriageways, and even though most of the roads had free overtaking lanes, one lorry felt compelled to come within inches of me (second time this has happened and very scary).

The desert…. after the mountains

We got to the outskirts of Abarkooh just as the sun was sinking, and everyone except Tim and I opted to ride in the van. Tim and I rode the last 4 and a half miles into the city and made it to our ecolodge just 5 minutes after the bus crowd. I’d thought we were going to be in a hotel and was really looking forward to washing my clothes and having my own toilet and shower, but this was not to be. In fact, although it was not as I imagined/hoped, it was quite lovely…. adobe mud walled rooms with domed ceilings round a large courtyard and a fire in the middle. There seem to be a lot of people around and only 2 toilets and showers.