135km Yaqubiyeh to Anabad

Andrew and Bijan cooking breakfastThe sheer energy of our friend Bijan is amazing. He’s carrying half the weight on his bike compared with our hefty loads and he’s got at least twice the get-up-and-go. The result is that we’ve been pushing a lot harder than we normally would to keep up with him and today we logged our longest day ever. A solid tailwind and a nice downhill stretch helped things along but it was still a lot of work. By the end of it we were more in pain than proud of our achievement. Our knees made the loudest complaints.

It’s good to know we can cover a lot of ground when we have to (like with our current run for the Turkmenistan border) but we’re looking forward to returning to a more laid back style of touring as soon as possible. It’s never going to win us a gold medal in a bicycle race but we enjoy having lazy lunches, taking an hour to read a book or just sit in a town square and watch the world go by. For us, these experiences are more what travelling by bicycle is about, rather than notching up large distance tallies. Aside from pushing the pedals around for long hours, there wasn’t much to report from today. We have probably seen the last of the desert, which wasn’t as spectacular as we’d hoped although there were some nice parts, and now we seem to be in a predominantly farming area.

Late in the afternoon we were accompanied by several motorbikes running between the local cities and of course all of them wanted to take our pictures or videos with their mobile phones. As a woman on a bicycle, Friedel is a particular attraction and the women especially like to have their photos taken with her. Sometimes we get tired of the attention but resistance is futile. We just pulled over for a few minutes and let the excitement die down before we carried on.

We were guilty of losing our tempers right at the end of the day when a car pulled up to chat and one of the passengers kept on sticking his mobile phone in our faces for several minutes without even greeting us or asking if it was okay. One photo is fine but when people start filming lengthy videos, poking their camera in every corner you start to feel like a clown, on show as part of some circus act. We find it quite odd because if we did the same to an Iranian we met randomly we would surely cause offence but we must be so unusual that in their excitement to see people travelling by bicycle it doesn’t even occur to them that perhaps we have feelings too.