Before going on a trip, there is the preparation, Ali had to get new brake pads and an oil change to do before we could depart for Babak Castle. While he was working on his bike, I had the chance to take some pictures in the moody backyard repair shop with bikes in various states of disassembly hanging from the rafters and stand in the employees’ way. Early in the next morning we departed to Babak Castle, which is half a day’s ride to the north of Tabriz. There we followed a mountain road to a nomad’s camp from where we had to walk the last 2 km to the castle. The merciless sun and barren landscape without any shadows made hiking in motorcycle gear a sweaty exercise, but the castle with its commanding view over the surrounding landscape more than made up for the sweat.
We found a place to camp not far off the castle in a more wooded area, where I had a little disagreement with Ali about the temperatures in the evening. He considered it to cold to wash in a nearby stream, while I thought it was way too hot to not go for a cool down. On the next day on the way back to Tabriz we had a go at the other kind of riding, the riding on a four legged-horse made of flesh. Much to my surprise we just showed up at a horse farm and a horse was prepared for us after Ali asked for a trial lesson. Most useful lesson for me was, that transportation with a will of its own has an inherent error. At one point I came too close to the exit gate of the riding area and the horse just stopped and refused to budge because it wanted to go back to the stable, I needed help from the instructor to get it going again. My Tenere has never let me down like that!
In the next morning I thanked Ali for his hospitality and the great time in Tabriz and hit the road towards the Alborz Mountains further to the east. Because of the temperatures I altered my daily routine, getting up before sunrise to ride in the cool morning hours and doing siesta during the hottest time of the day. Although this day I didn’t get much rest. Instead I became some kind of attraction in the park of a small town named Mianeh, a lot of people started to ask questions: Where I’m from? Where I go? What I think of Iran? How fast the motorcycle goes? They were taking pictures with me or of themselfs next to the Tenere. Apart of the usual high attention for travellers, my motorcycle was a big attractor (especially for teenage boys) because large capacity motorcycles are almost nonexistant in Iran.
The attention can get tiring though especially when people get obtrusive. There was one guy who first gave me his falafel sandwich and then blathered for a full hour, trying to convince me that the holocaust in Germany is a lie from a zionistic conspiracy which is controlling the current US government. Don’t get me wrong though, most of the people who approached me were friendly and genuinely interested. I had quite a few interesting conversations or even invitations. Like Amir, who is host for travelling bicyclists and tries to promote and conserve the local cultural heritage, a stretch of the silk road and several associated monuments. He wanted to show me a mostly unknown castle in the vicinity of Mianeh.