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Published: August 26th 2016
MARY to GOAT SH.. CAMP 21 AUGUST 2016. My stage 7 TDA stage 80
Distance: 127 Kms SubT. Kms 818.3 kms Road Condition: 80% bitumen. Weather: 40c blue sky, strong afternoon head wind.
Time in Saddle: 6 hrs Av Speed: av. 21.5 kph. Av Cadence. 64 Rpm
Elevation: 300 m up; 180 m down
Calories burned : >5000
We were expecting bad roads for today and through to the capital, Ashgabat. The road in the morning was newly paved dual highway making the riding enjoyable. Just when I was settling in, the conditions changed back to rough surface making the cycling slower. The scenery was desert, scrubby thorn bush, rocky soil. Not many redeeming features. Must be good melon conditions, as again saw many melon road stalls.
After lunch, the bread is so hard its like chewing stone, the headwinds came up strongly, making the last 50 kms tough. My humour was not improved on arriving at camp, a hot, very dusty bowl, littered with millions of goat droppings, look like chocolate covered nuts!!
It was so hot everyone put up tents after sundown. The earth was very hot. The dogs howled all night, and as the site was used for parking by dump trucks they noisily rolled in for the first few hours caking all with dust!
GOAT SH.. CAMP to CEMETERY CAMP. (Archeological site) 22 AUGUST 2016.
My stage 8. TDA stage 81
Distance: 112.55 Kms SubT. Kms 930.85 kms Road Condition: 40% broken road/deep potholes, 60% bitumen. Weather: 40c blue sky, BRUTAL STRONG HEAD WIND ALL DAY.
Time in Saddle: 6:45:13 hrs Av Speed: av. 16.7 kph. Av Cadence. 60 Rpm
Elevation: 350 m up; 200 m down
Calories burned : >5500
Today was very tough, brutal head wind on the nose all day. An imaginary wall. My cycle speed fell away. After lunch it was even stronger and I needed to stop every 5 kms for water and a minute's rest. The TDA truck came past, but it was full of riders who like me were exhausted. The suggestion was I cycle on to the next town, 5kms and they would later return to collect me.
So on I battled arriving at the coke stop as the truck was heading out. They promised they would be back, it was only another 6 kms! So I settled in for a couple of soft drinks, salty crisps and a litre of water. An hour passed and I dozed off. Awoke to an ambulance pulling up. The drivers went in for a drink and on the way out asked whether I wanted a lift to Ashgabat. Would have taken up the offer if I had known the hotel name. Minutes later the TDA truck rolled in with more riders and a space for me. Whilst I had pretty much recovered, as I had drunk so much liquid, I didn't much feel like riding. Camp was 3 kms as it turned out. There went my EFI!!
Early in the day when the sun was at 42 and the wind was at its strongest, my water was getting low, had consumed 2 litres already. Came upon a small village and found a couple of girls sitting under an umbrella selling bottle drinks. No water. They said to wait 5 minutes then presented ice cold 1.5 litres. It was fantastic. The girls and their father were fully covered in clothing as sun protection. 2 of The girls only had slits for sight. Very cheerful and we all modelled for photos.
The camp was better than the name, an interesting site, the remnants of a 2000 year old village. Wandered through, but the goat head thorns, NASTY THORNS were everywhere. So set up my tent on hot pavement after sunset. It didn't cool all night.
A difficult, exhausting day, one that asks, WHY AM I HERE????
CEMETERY CAMP TO ASHGABAT. 23 AUGUST 2016. My stage 9. TDA stage 82
Distance: 57.35 Kms SubT. Kms 988.2 kms Road Condition: Good Weather: 40c blue sky.
Time in Saddle: 2:32:49 hrs Av Speed: av. 22.5 kph. Av Cadence. 66 Rpm
Elevation: 400m up; 100 m down
Calories burned : >4500
Today I decided to ride the truck to lunch, once breached, riding the truck is easy!!, a good decision I feel as I arrived feeling refreshed. Found the hotel beating in the support vehicle. On route passed vineyards, I suspect for table grapes, as the store holders now sold grapes. The highway closely follows the Iranian border. The scenery in Iran looks mountainous. Thankfully we bus to the border post and then camp, due to the likely border transfer delays.
Arrived by 10 am, so immediately set out with the few who rode the truck the whole day, to go to the Iranian Consulate to start the visa process. Needed to change into long pants and long sleeves. With no shower first, it was choice, in 40 c temp. Was at the consulate 3 hours. Told to return in 2 days and perhaps the visa will be issued. 100 euro fee, you would have thought the service may have been a little better!
I decided to take a single room to get a better night sleep, I could turn off the AC!! Also laundry at hotel very expensive, it would have cost USD 50 to have laundered 2 sets of cycle clothes. As room had a bath tub decided to do it myself. Now the room looks like a chinese laundry.
Ate in a nearby outdoor cafe in a park. Very pleasant. Chicken doner, 3 pieces of bony chicken, bread and green salad and two beers, not bad for AUD 13-
ASHGABAT. REST DAY (2) 24 August, 2016.
After breakfast headed out with Phil to explore Ashgabat. The hotel is well located, only about 1.5 kms to central. Shady, leafy streets, wide main roads, count down traffic lights, many statutes of scholars from centuries back. Not many walking understandably, only mad dogs and bike riders!
Found numerous markets selling nuts, dried foods and seeds, sweets, watermelon and pumpkin and other veg. Another market, the Russian Market, sold tech items and clothing. Ice cream here is delicious so ate a tasty choc coated pistachio icecream. AUD .80c. Now back resting. Still no social media, email or ability to upload photos. My VPN also won’t connect, very frustrating. We have another day here tomorrow, hopefully to collect the Iranian visa.
ASHGABAT. 2nd REST DAY. 25 AUGUST, 2016. Hot day
This morning we received our Iranian visas, so we now are cleared to approach customs border control. On past rides the border has been a time consuming exercise, so tomorrow is all by bus.
Afterwards the consulate went for another long meandering walk, the main street is 100 metres wide with a central park/ median strip lined with statutes of past scholars, soldiers and cut throats. Another market, great almonds for the journey, then back to hotel before adjourning to the beer garden for last drinks for 18 days. I hope the tea in Iran is good and refreshing. No internet there, so no blog. I am currently sending these comments to Mem by sms, who then posts them on the blog. Again no photos!!
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