Day 139

“But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.” Paulo Coelho

Game over.

Game starts again with different rules.

483.5km (302.2 miles) from Mashhad, after 4629.5 miles (7407.2km) of cycling I had to listen to my body. I took the bus to Mashhad.

Sitting at the bus station the decision was not as hard as I thought it would be as in my heart I knew it was the right one to take. The next town is 60km away. The chance of finding water or shade anywhere in those next 60km other than hiding under the road in one of the infrequent low tunnels or waving down lorries was not high. Added to the culmutative effect of dehydration from the past five days, and a head wind that meant despite waking at 3.45am I was forced to cycle at an agonising 6-7mph as the air moved west from the rising eastern sun…
Well there are times when you have to accept that there are limitations to what you can do. Could I have got to Mashhad on the bike? In my heart I know the answer is yes but I would not have been able to carry on, the journey would have finished in Iran as it would have taken every single thing I had. And then some. I would rather look back at this trip in ten years time and think, well I had to cheat a bit, than not to be around in ten years as I am dead in a ditch by a nondescript section of road.

The problem was exacerbated heavily by my own stupidy in regards to the Uzbekistan visa. After the consular finally decided to show up, he issued the 30 day visa then asked when I wished for it to start. I then had 30 seconds to pick a date. Not having the map for Iran with me is not an excuse as I should have worked out when the Iranian visa was due to finish then extrapolate from there. So anyway to cut a long and painful story short I said the 10th. Which is in 5 days…. The Turkmenistan embassy was visited today with Vali (from vali’s homestay) and I have 5 days of waiting before they give me a 5 day transit visa. Which is just enough time to sprint across the desert… at 120km a day to get to Uzbekistan… The question is wether or not I an sustain the level of endurance needed to get across this stretch without having to resort to transport again.

I learnt on the last attempt that I am not good with the heat. Blame it on genetics or poor breeding stock :) But anybody who can cycle in 50 degrees day after day.. well they are half man half lizard.

So justifications and excuses over and done with, I should mention some random moments that made the last few days slightly more bearable.

Seeing Martin and Sybil at Vali’s was great. They both left yesterday to attempt the Turkmenistan crossing. All I can say is that I hope that they make it and hopefully I can get up to speed and catch you up. Again. It must be like having a stray dog following you around :)

Arriving at Mashhad coach station and having a member of the IRG come and ask me if I am ok with virtually no english. I explain that I am waiting for a friend to come and meet me with hand gestures and motions of phone calls and looking at watches.. he smiles then comes out completely unprompted with the best quote of the trip so far; “John Terry is a son of a bitch yes?”
Yes John Terry is a son of a bitch.

Leaving Mashhad bus station and cycling against the traffic of a three lane road, round a roundabout the wrong way and then having a motorcycle with rider and pillion pull a wheelie directly at me.

Standing outside Vali’s homestay next to a mosque and having a random taxi driver/tour guide/? come out and ask where I am from which quickly descended into being shown a video on his mobile phone of George Bush with frantic exclamations of ‘Satan, Satan’ as he vigoursly slapped me. Asking my belief I took the extremely diplomatic line of saying that there is but one God and I am a Christian (very loud cough), we are all brothers etc.
Smiling he then showed me another video of Palestian kids ripped to shreds by Isreali bombings, a video of a factory that is making shoes to mark the wonderous moment that some brave soul stood up and threw his shoes at the clown ( and then a montage of clips showing masons, anarchists, marylin manson, goths and various people with 666 tattoos etc.. as he struggled to say the word ‘armageddon’. He managed ‘end times’ though.

I was then asked if I would like to go to his house. I politely declined. The problem is I might have left the impression I wanted to visit tonight…

The food at Vali’s. I will try and get pictures up as it is just insane. That and there being a smoothis shop round the corner where you can get a hamburger next door as well for a combined price of a quid. The game is now to put as much weight on as possible in five days. Seriously.

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