Sunday, May 10, 2009

WRONG WAY BUT DON'T TURN BACK












Why, why, why do people feel obliged to point you in any random direction so as to be 'helpful' when you ask for directions. If you don't know where a particular place is there's really no problem whatsoever. Considering the population of Iran is 70 million I should be able to find someone else and I'll hold nothing against you. On main roads we have signs in Farsi and English, but once you step away from them its mainly Farsi. When I spot a sign in English and Farsi, I take photos of them to help me locate where I want to go when I only have signs in Farsi.
The day before yesterday, a lovely bunch of people invited me in to their workplace to have lunch with them. Over an hour was spent there and we had great food and interesting chat. It was a great afternoon and many times I mentioned where I was off to next in Iran. After lunch 3 of them walked me out to the door and pointed the exact road to continue on. I was very excited. It would only have been 35KMs to the Caspian Sea and I was steadily dropping altitude. Although mountains filled the horizon, I wasn't worried. Its often the case where you come around a bend and the expected view opens to you. 25KMs later I arrived in a town and asked a man to put an 'X' on my map of where we are. And then it all became apparent. I took the road I was directed and did not miss any turns, but I was sent down into a cul de sac in a deep valley. There was more than 20 people around me, surprised at the sight of this tourist in this remote village. With 3 separate hand written maps I was directed across a 50KM track suitable for 4X4s and motorbikes. I knew if I backtracked to the previous town, I would certainly lose a day, but if I was to continue on this track I might possibly lose a day. I loaded up the bike with 2 days worth of food and 6 litres of water, stuffed myself with food from the village diner and decided to make a go for the mountain pass.To make a long story short, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. In the day and a half it took me to get through it, I only met 12 other vehicles. There was tyre splitting pyramid shaped rocks everywhere. When we reached sand we just had to get off the bike and push it and the downhill run was so steep, I tied a log to the back to the bike for over 2 hours to help keep my speed down. Thankfully we got through it without cracking a wheel rim or even breaking a spoke. I climbed from 1400M to 2325M and back down to 800M with an average speed of 7.9 KM/Hr. On the positive side the scenery was amazing and it felt to be on a road that most likely no other Irish person had been on before me. I ended up losing a day anyway but I would recommend the Kolur to Masuleh pass (as long as you are sitting behind the wheel of a Land Rover Defender)

1 comment:

Andy said...

Hey Father D

Sounds like you're getting an incredible welcome in Iran :-)

Greatjob getting through that pass - that's a fierce altitude gain and drop to do on bad roads... bloody good effort mate.

Every time I read your blog my mind starts thinking of travel again... Your pictures and description are making me very twitchy... I feel the old disease coming on again ;-)

All good at home mate. Working hard and keeping fit (and dreaming of the next trip).

Cheers and happy pedaling
Ted

PS: Saw the picture of your tent under the rock face... If I was climbing I probably wouldn't walk around under their without a helmet. It's that sort of dry, chossy rock that breaks off 'real easy'. All it might take is a stray goat at the top and you'll have a boulder-sized alarm call :-/
Just a thought.

PPS: I am jealous beyond words about your trip (in a good way :-) . Brilliant effort so far - I'm looking forward to reading your next posts... Good luck making the 22/05