The mystery of slow riding



During the first 3 days in Iran I've been cycling extreemly slow...



Still so far away from Isfahan, with a desert ahead and less than 100 km coverred, I begin to think: maybe I should have left that bike in Poland?

With these thoughts I set off from Nasr Abad. I say goodbye to my hosts with a smile, but soon the smile turns into a frown. Again, I ride slowly and uphill on end.
“But if it's uphill, there must be a downhill eventually,” a voice says in my head. “Great, but when? I've been struggling for two hours and can see no end.”
So I kept pedalling for a third hour… 
I don't even look at the deserted villages, no matter how beautiful. Houses in the desert melt down like snow, all that's left is a pile of clay, which sooner or later gets scattered around by the desert wind. Fortresses have longer lives. Their towers resist the time lapse for long, just like the one I am passing by. It is beautiful, high, surrounded by former buildings melted down to the height of around one meter above the ground. I see sheep in the distance and hear dogs barking from far away. So peaceful. I take a break, lean the bike against the wall of the tower, and start to take pictures. “Is the barking getting louder? Why don't you turn around and have a look behind you!” I talk to myself.
“Oh crap!” Two dogs were rushing towards me. I jumped onto the bike. Did not even try to get back to the asphalt. The road was built on a hill, I wouldn't make it with luggage. I can only hope the sand is not too deep and the path doesn't end sooner than the quadrupeds get bored with chasing me. I managed to flee. Got back to the road, but that encounter made me think. 

First, I realized this is the first time in my life when I am really by myself. And if anything happens, there is no one to help me.

Second, why was the bike riding so easily in the sand?

I looked down at the chain. It was on the smaller sprocket in the front. So THAT'S why I was riding so slowly! I changed the gear and started to swish, especially that the downhill started eventually. I reached the town I was going to stay in for the night somewhere around lunch.

“Is there a restaurant here?” I ask passers-by.
“There is, but you should better go to the mosque. They are sharing out food today.”
So I headed for the mosque.

And so the havoc began…
A woman grabbed me by the hand and pulled me inside. Soon, I was holding a plate with rice, and someone skillfully pulled me down towards the carpet. I was sitting next to women in chadors. They all wanted to know where I came from and whether I could come to their homes for tea. There could be only one winner – I chose the woman who pulled me inside this place. After a short while she was directing me to her home, accompanied by a crowd of others. 
The women were moving very quickly, covering the floor with oilcloth, bringing water and bread. Then they brought rice and a bean and meat meal. There was a knock on the window – it was the neighbors, eager to pay a visit and see a girl cyclist from Lachestan. They stayed for a while, took some photos with me, and left. I hardly managed to swallow some rice, and there came more neighbors. I could hear the word 'ducharhe' every now and then, which means a bike.
“Where are you going to?”
“Isfahan.”
“Very far. Have you somewhere to sleep?”
“No, I don't.”
“Why don't you stay with us!”
“I would love to, but it's still so early and I have a long way to go…”
It is still so far to Isfahan.
How far? That's another mystery. I forgot how to read numbers in Persian, if from left to right like regular words – then it would be less than 573 or 583 (I find it hard to distinguish between Persian seven and eight). But if you read numbers the other way round – that would be pretty encouraging. Regardless of the distance – I go to Isfahan and I take the shortest route, which is across the desert.
“Don't do that!” said Kiam, whom I met on the road a few hours later. He was transporting a group of Australian women to Yazd. They pulled over to ask if I needed any help. What help? I was fast as light now that I was in the faster gear. I've already covered 70 km and was prepared to cover many more.
“First, there is no road there, second, there are wolves, third, there are Afghans,” he said. “If anything happens to you, you just disappear. Go straight to Agda, there's a hotel there.” 

I went to Agda. On that day I rode 95 km!

At night I checked in at the hotel. Kian did not tell me that it would feel like being inside the One Thousand and One Nights stories. Neither did he mention Agda was a big metropolis, with huge palaces that are being consumed by the desert. 

Family picture:)

Guests are knocking at the window

In the mosque

Last picture before i was dragged into the mosque:)

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