DAY NINETEEN… 16.5 miles (26.5 km)

Morning; and for breakfast Tim eats the local bread, “lavash”, which he describes as like trying to eat a newspaper. We set off. Ali tells us it is ‘easy’ until Tarzam (a mountain pass), but it is a gruelling uphill slog and the sun’s up too, in full strength.

The ride was through a beautiful canyon, and we are now at Tarzam village, awaiting a cuppa in a shop. There is nothing worth eating in this shop, just a lot of sweets, soft sugar and a copious number of rubber shoes.

We climbed the 2,400m pass at Tarzam by getting a lift with two young men, with the usual driving habits we have encountered before…. speeding as much as possible until you really have to slow down. Luckily, due to the weight of the bikes, and all the panniers and us, the young men only managed a few stretches of true speeding as it was during these episodes that I felt I needed to be ready for my life to end.

Another uplift

We got to the top alive and the pair were not wanting any money for the long 18km ascent, which, it turns out they made, just for us. We pressed a minuscule amount of cash on them 10,000 Toman which is about €1 but is worth so much more here.

Celebration photo at the pass

A wonderful descent, which I have come to love, but was stung on the way down by some nasty thing that got onto my breast.

Beautiful downhill ride

We are now at our camp spot. Ali has brought us to a fish restaurant. Fish kebabs for lunch. The unfortunate victim has just been excitedly caught from its tiny pool and is brought, flapping in a young child’s hand. The camping spaces are a series of concrete platforms in a row adjoining a busy pathway. I suggested to Ali that we might try camping in the rather beautiful garden behind. Shock, horror! There are no lights or electric sockets. Iranian camping seems to need a concrete base, with a carpet if you are fortunate.