Cycling from busy Tehran to the quiet deserts

From the bustling Tehran we arrived in the desert in Yazd………in between we experienced a lot again. We left Tehran on a Friday, the holy day here, so it was fairly quiet on the streets.

We had to ask for the direction a couple of times, but finally we found the right road. We thought……until we saw the toll gates. We were stopped by the police who told that we weren’t allowed to continue. After a good story, Steven manages to convince them lo let us cycle the High way. It’s not really the kind of road we prefer, but better than going back all the way. Along the road there are a lot of people selling flowers. After a while we understand why it is when we see the impressive building of the resting place of Ayatollah Khomeini. The people of Iran pay their respects here. We leave the highway and after 161 kilometers of cycling we arrive in Qom. It’s a very religious place with a fantastic mosque, where all the women walk in chadors. We see mullahs as well wearing long dresses and a turban on their heads.

From the strict Qom we arrive in Kashan, a place where we feel at home very quickly. The atmosphere, the people, it goes all in a very friendly way. When we walk at the bazaar we are invited to drink a cup of tea in one of the teahouses. Majid, a 12 year old boy from Afghanistan takes us up to the roof of the bazaar. Here we are treated with a marvellous view of the city. The roofs are all made with mud and straw. We also pay a visit to some traditional houses in the old part of town. The houses are approximately 400 years old and are all renovated. We could live here….

Via Ardestan we cycle in the direction of Esfahan. The road leads us trough the Mountains from 1100 meter up to almost 2100 meter high. With the wind blowing into our faces it is a pretty though ride. But at the end of the afternoon we arrive in Esfahan and after some searching we find a good spot in the Amir Kabir Hostel. We stay here together with other travellers who all have their own stories. We meet the Dutch Herbert and Sander who are travelling overland by landrover on their way to Australia. Dirk from Germany travels on the back of a tandembike because he is blind. The Norwegian Eric travels together with his girlfriend from Turkey, who jumped onto his bike when he passed her. Eric and Christine from Switzerland are cycling already for 14 months and aren’t finished by far. We also meet our Belgium neighbours Amelie and Pierre-Antoine. In Esfahan we extend our visa and we enjoy this lovely city with the most beautiful mosques and bridges and a lovely square and lively bazaar.

When we leave Esfahan it doesn’t take long before we cycle along a heavy secured area. All the soldiers here are ready for action. Soon it’s clear to us we are passing a nuclear power station. A police car drives next to us and asks us through a microphone to stop. We show them our passports and then we can continue cycling. Not for long, because after a few minutes we are surrounded from five different directions. This time they film us and our passports as well. Fortunately these men are very friendly and they realise that these two cyclists aren’t here to do any harm, so they let us go again.

When we ask in the evening if there is a hotel in the village we receive a ‘no’ as an answer. But the same guy jumps on his motorbike and takes us with him to a government house. Here is a room for us where we can spend the night. When we bring our bags inside a man approaches us and he speaks a little English. It appears to be the local shoemaker, and he is brought to us to take care of us. We do some shopping together with him and we drink tea together. After a good night sleep we hear a knock on the door at 6.30 in the morning. It’s the shoemaker and he is ready to bring us to the bakery and the supermarket before he points us in the right direction. Nice on time we are heading into the desert…’s bumpy, but beautiful. When we stop after a while to eat something our ears are hurting, because it’s so quiet. I put my scarf away, no one can see it! After a while we see something far away. Camels! With the big lens of the camera we can watch them. The path shakes us further until there lies a little river in front of us. I think I can go along the water, but I get stuck in the mud. Steven is smarter and after taking pictures of me he takes of his shoes and socks and he goes through the water on bare feet. I follow Steven through the water with my bicycle. In the evening we arrive in Nardushan where we sleep in a community building as well. Here we are also treated as imported guests. This time the English school teacher takes care of us. When we thank him for all the hospitality he tells us that every stranger who arrives in a village has to be treated as a guest of Allah. A heater is arranged for us and even a meal of kebab is delivered for us. In the evening the mayor visits us accompanied by his wife and children to drink a cup of tea with us.

Before we arrive in Yazd we drive our bicycles on an unsealed road through the desert. We stay a couple of days in Yazd where we wander around the narrow alleys with the walls all covered with mud and straw. We meet Eric and Christine again. They plan to travel the next 10 years….. Our bicycles sleep in the same room as we do and when I wake up I see a flat tire on my bicycle. My first flat one? After inspection my tube seems to be finished and we have to change it for a new one. About the flat tires: Steven is still leading with 4-0. Let’s keep it that way……….

Tehran – Qom : 161 km
Qom – Kashan : 108 km
Kashan – Ardestan : 123 km
Ardestan – Esfahan : 132 km
Esfahan – Varsaneh : 118 km
Varsaneh – Nardushan : 95 km
Nardushan – Yazd : 96 km



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