DAY EIGHTEEN… 42.5 miles (67.75 km)

Woke at 5.40am with the muezzin’s call to prayer from the local mosque. Set out on to the road at 8.15am after buying some thyroxine tablets as I had run out.

Ali tells us it is all FLAT but it is all UPHILL. He is worse than Tim in that sense. Not only is it all up hill but the wind is in our face ALL the way. It’s very hard going.

At 11.15am we are only one third of the way through the day’s ride, with still a huge climb to go. We have a lunch stop by a river. Then a wonderful descent with views of bare rocks or dry scrub covered jagged peaks.

Slow climb, with head wind. But worth it… stunning empty landscape.

Phew! We’ve made it to Arzil by 5pm. Its unbelievably hot. Thank God we got an lift assist up the massive hill to Kharvana in one of those bone shaking pick-up trucks. It came along just after the refrigerated van had handed us three ice creams.

The joys of a bone-shaking uplift.

Everyone who sees us stops and greets us. One man offered us tea in the middle of nowhere.

Drinking tea in the middle of nowhere. Of course you do this in Iran.

Now we are having a cup of tea outside a shop. We end the day at a Shia shrine, where, we are told there are little cabins to stay in. Excitedly, I go to look. Inside them is just a concrete floor, with a dirty carpet, no beds, and some dangerous live looking sockets. It’s got to be the worst little house we have ever stayed in, more like a concrete bunker with a light bulb, but we erect our tent and are as comfortable as you can be on concrete.

Our concrete bunker, the one with the yellow flag on the roof.