It was nothing less than wonderful to get back on our bikes today and head out of Shiraz with the sun on our backs, not to mention a good strong tailwind. Too many long bus trips and hotel stays had made us very eager to get back to the road and peaceful camping that we love. The scenery was beautiful with snow-capped mountains all around and we started getting to grips with what it will be like to cycle here in Iran. So far the much-feared Iranian drivers aren’t so bad as all that. Oh sure, they go faster than they should and at least half of them drive without headlights at night but where cyclists are concerned they almost always slow down as they pass, giving us lots of space and a friendly wave. We wouldn’t rent a car in this country but on a bike we feel pretty comfortable.
As in Syria, the motorcycles did annoy us slightly. The age of the drivers is unbelievably young, perhaps as little as 14 if we judged their faces correctly. Of course they want to show off and so our arrival in a town is almost immediately noticed by one of these motorbikes, usually with at least two or even three kids aboard, who then rides just ahead of us, beeping the horn to attract the attention of everyone on the street. Soon every motorbike and scooter in town seems to be on one side of us or the other and we’re always relieved when we reach the outskirts and everyone goes back to life as it was before we arrived. Between the tailwind and a long descent we managed to cover a fair bit of ground today, although no doubt we’ll pay for that when we return to Shiraz in two weeks to get our visa extended. The ride to the coast should be easy but we can already anticipate the muscle aches we’ll have coming back up the hill.