71km Kharanaq to Saghand

We made an early start out of Kharanaq, something that’s both easier now that summer is on its way and necessary here in the desert as hot temperatures make cycling unpleasant after 11am. A new routine is starting to form: get on the road as soon as possible, pedal until about 11:30 and then find a lunch spot to spot for a good two or three hours. After a nap, we then feel ready to pedal again for a few hours in the late afternoon when things have cooled down a bit. We’re very thankful for our tarp, which has given us some valuable shade in an otherwise desolate landscape. Today our early start was thwarted somewhat by a flat in Andrew’s back tire.

It’s a good thing we replaced our broken pump (it stopped working a few weeks ago) before we left Yazd! With the bikes back in working order, we started a long but gentle uphill climb through miles and miles of nothing. Just one road, leading through a long and sandy landscape. There are a few trucks on the road and plenty of people going home for the Iranian New Year but towns are spaced at least 60km apart and there are only abandonned buildings in the middle.

With the warm temperatures, we had to refill our bottles a few times with water from the passing trucks. One kind driver even gave us four oranges. It doesn’t sound like much but for us it was really like a gift from the heavens. We haven’t seen fresh fruit anywhere since we left Yazd and the taste of a juicy orange in the middle of the day is undescribably good. That’s one of the things this trip has taught us, to enjoy simple pleasures.

Late in the day we were surprised to see an old Citroen coming towards us. It turned out to be driven by a French couple, making their way to Laos. We chatted for a while, enjoying the company, and soon discovered we had a common friend, a Belgian cyclist we’d met at the Turkmen embassy last week. It’s a small world.

Soon afterwards we arrived in Saghand and decided to stay the night in a room at the local shrine. There’s no furniture but we were happy to spread out our sleeping mats and enjoy the evening without putting up our tent and in a place with electricity and water. Such luxuries! Evidently a few other people also thought this a good place to stay because all the rooms (they provide half a dozen or so for travellers) were full, mostly with families making the trek to their home villages or to Mashhad for No Ruz.

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