It’s not very far from the desert to the lush farming fields south of Mashhad but it seems like a universe apart. In just a day on our bikes we’ve left behind the sandy wastelands, covered in a crusty layer of salt, and come into an area where irrigation channels keep fields of wheat a brilliant green. It’s a refreshing change for the eyes as well as our feet when we dip them in the water at the end of a long day. In the afternoon we also passed a long string of vineyards with special buildings that we thought might be used for drying the grapes; all made of clay but with high windows, partially filled in with lattice-work.
The best part of our day came right at the end when we turned left to cut through the mountains on a smaller road. The traffic was still reasonably heavy with all kinds of families out having picnics for the New Year but the scenery more than made up for it as the road wound its way steadily upwards through narrow mountains. We thought we’d make the peak – just a few kilometers away one police officer told us – but as usual the estimates of car drivers turned out to be vastly wrong. When we spied a track leading into the hills we jumped at it and found a tranquil camping spot with running water. You can’t ask for more than that. We’ll continue our climb tomorrow, hopefully with a nice downhill run not far away!