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From Erzurum to Tashkent by Bicycle

This part of story is how I get by bike from Erzurum to Tashkent on my journey around the world with my mate Helmut. It was last biggest cycling stage of the trip before end of the year. It’s about how we traveled with Helmut from Turkey to Uzbekistan and how I survived big crash with tractor. Yeah sounds like shit, but it was even worse.

Iran’s border zone

Drinking tea in Erzurum
Me drinking tea in Erzurum.

I passed thru border crossing Bargazan after one hour of byrocracy. It was dark, beacause I spent few hour there and just went 1 km to first village Bazargan. It was a strange feeling, I felt so unsafe. I exchanged few euro for local currency Rials with standard exhange rate that is not so good as always on the borders, but it is better to have few dollars for start. It’s better to change in country. I took a hotel for five Dollars in the street with shared bathroom and russian bed.

In the morning I am starting my cycling on the road to Tabriz where we have an appointment with Helmut there. It’s a big fight with a wind. There are no trees and countryside is very dry. It look like a military zone with few military objects in sights. Almost 140 km is done. I’ve slept in the prayers room at restaurant on the main road. One truck driver passing thru Iran invited me for a dinner.

Kebab with rice and soup. Meat in Iran is almost in every kind of meal. Iranian people looks friendly and helpful. Two days to go to Tabriz with more than 260 km are not so hard. One pass was little bit long with a very hot weather.

Cycling servis Tabriz

I’ve met Helmut in the cycling store in the center of Tabriz. This city is the best place where you should get nearly everything for your bicycle. I’ve changed chain, center the wheels, setup and oil everything. Last 1000km in very dusty and dry countryside was very hard for my bicycle. Helmut is buying almost new bicycle. Only frame and wheels stayed. Guy in the servis did everything not at best quality. So many people was spamming him and he cannot focus on the work properly. We spent there like a whole day. Good to know to have a time in here.

We get some problems with bicycles, but we noticed it after 20 km behind the Tabriz. Sun is down and its too late to go back to the jungle. In the middle of the small city we are putting our tents. After small entertainment guys from the city opened a hotel for us. They don’t like the tents in the middle of the city. In the morning we did a cycling ride to Bonap. This part of Iran is full of kurdish and turkish people. They are driving horrible.

Crash with tractor

On afternoon we are coming after big lunch to city of Bonap. From the roundabout we turn to the main road we see 5 m before us a tractor driving on the road. We are on the right side. Helmut was close behind him. I cannot catch him with my very hard accceleration. In one moment the tractor turn to the right side and tractor driver go on the front brakes. vehicle behind the tractor starts flying over the Helmut and in one second is over me. Bum and the vehicle with a big weight fall on me. I am under and feeling the power of the machine. Crash nearly killed me and it is quite hard to write about it. Just in one moment I was completely under the vehicle.

My speedmeter after crash
My speedmeter after crash.

My broken leg with a titanium stick inside is under everything. With my knee is pushed by my bicycle. 20 guys came and push up the vehicle within 20 seconds I am trying to get out from the vehicle. Leg is pushed in between the frame and rides of the bicycle.

Pain is big. ambulance and police come. Guys trying to drive off with a tractor but nobody let him. Try to walk, but I cannot. Thinking about the leg and whole trip. What now! On one leg jumping to the ambulance. I hope there i no broken leg or destroyd stick installation in the leg. Going to the hospital. After one hour of telling the hospital personal they let me go to the RTG. Leg is OK, bone is cracked, knee and muscles are damaged.

Hospital Iran Karol
As I was with cracked leg in hospital in Iran.

Another big problem was a police. Stupid young guys in the police instead of letting me in peace resting on the bed at hospital, tried to play some funny games and moving us from court to police station. Wtih short sleeves we are moving till midnight. Night is cold and we will be sick I am sure. I am tired and I cannot rest.

Stupid police guys are laughing like something very funny happened. Knee has no abilty to move. I hope this is not a end of the trip and I should move on and continue the trip. Around midnight we get back to the hotel room. Falling into the sleep after few exercises and taking some pill for regenaration. I am sleeping like 2 days.

New start

Iranian police is playing still the stupid  games. They don’t know what I need. I get some cash in the court from guy that caused accident. Half of the bicycle is destroyed I have no more speed meter. I got damaged health, energy and lot of cash for taxi to move to get back to the cycling servis and they gave me like one of ten of loss. Very funny cash becouse this costs me much more. Helmut is leaving the place to cycle ahead. I will catch him by taxi or somehow on another the day after I fix my bike.  We met afgain in the city of Sanadaj where we have a very nice host.

After four days after accident I am putting myself on the saddle and start cycling. I’ve tried a little day before. Pain was just a little when I am cycling. For damaged knee is cycling better than walking. We did cycling stage from Sanadaj to Hamadan. It was 150km of very nice cycling with my first sand storm and horrible wind from side.

I was happy.  Back in the cycling and traveling bussiness, but only cycling with one leg. I did it from Sanadaj to Isfahan by bike – long day 150 km across the sand storm (bad headwind and no visibility). Helmut was sick from the traffic and took a taxi after 1 day. I was little also but walking was for me very hard. I’ve met some people who tried to help me but it was half help that is not so good. They were more like curious then they want to help at all.

Uzbekistan visa and Tehran

After I did my 10000 km on the journey I arrived to the Isfahan where I met Helmut again (he took taxi). Very nice historical and traditional city in Iran. Another big jungle with very dangerou traffic. Helmut was waiting me there. We let our bicycles there and move to the Teherean by bus. The main goal there was to get a Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan visas.

Isfahan bridge
Odl Isfahan bridge across dried river.

We were little bit destroyed by the local very unhappy people and our not so very good hosts. One of them kick us out of the place in the morning and caused us a big problems that cost us a lot of money. In bug city like this when you are half day in the consulate you cannot search for a proper cheap hotel or place to sleep. Taxi is in most of the situations only transportation option and it’s not so cheap. In Teheran taxi drivers are very bad and they just take you somewhere and want cash, but you not on your place.

Mosque in Isfahan
Mosque in Isfahan as I was travleing in Iran.
Bazar in Isfahan
Bazar in Isfahan and local people.

In Uzbekistan consulate there is a visa mafia waiting somedays from morning in the cars to put a names to the list for pickuping the visas. Always the same guys with a lot of passports. Very hard to get inside. After two days we finally got it. But it was very hard. Two days before was consulate closed and we spend four night in Teheran. For Turkmenistan visa we don’t have enough energy. We will take it in the Mashad.

We went back by bus to Isfahan and extend our visa. Not easy to get extension, but we did it. Cycled little to the desert way to Mashad. After two days there was no reply from Mashad consulate and we decide to move to the Mashad in person by bus. We put our application in there and wait in place of our best host here. Trafiic in the city was horrible like in whole Iran and cycling options were limited.

After week of waiting there we finally got our three days transit visa for 50 dollars. We moved to the border of Turkmenistan on the next day. First 50 km was so dangerous. So many truck is going up and down the road.

Mosque in Samarkand
Smarkand mosque

Turkmenistan cycling and surviving

With our short visas we cannot move so long in Turkmenistan. We loose half day becouse of byrocracy in border. Then cycle 130 km to Tejen. 30 km was on nearly destroyed road during the night time. We had to jump off the road many time to save our lives. But there was no place to stay and we have to reach the city. Tehn we took a suicide and horrible driving bus with drivers that have a crash in the Mary.

We tried to stop the mad drivers driving the bus. Two tourist from Poland did’t support our blaming the drivers for dangerous ride. Were too afraid to do something and risking their life. another kind of the tourists “for cheese everything” that don’t know what is the value of the life. While traveling without money is importnat to have a values other wise it is just a crap.

We loose another half day and after this sick ride we try to get out of the country as soon as possible. We found very nice guy in Turkmenabat who save us our last money and we slept in his place for free on the ground. Hotels are very expensive there. He was very nice. In the morning we cycled to the border without a money and food.  We did crossing of border.

Bukhara, Samarkand and cycling in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is part of the countires from Soviet Union. It is not so chap as we expect. You have to take a hotels that are giving the registrations and you have to proove this registrations. This hotels are mostly not so cheap. Food in the markets is also expensive or maybe we are buying a wrong things. Quality of the food is not so good.We are riding on the destryed road. It is fun, but not for my leg. 🙂

Old woman Uzbekistan
Old woman Uzbekistan onthe road.

People are poor and in small villages they don’t have a basic products in the shops. But cycling and travelling in here is much more better. Nice places to visit, better people that are not stucked in the religion and stupid habits like in Iran. You should also find a lot of nice people.

We finally reach a Tashkent and another visa problem with visa online application for India is starting.  We appliead and I went cycled agoin 500 km more. Our agent for the visa has been arrested and we got some problems to get visa. It is boring obstruction. I talk a bit with Indian embassy and we did after couple of times “online” application that you’ll have to bring in person and we get our visas 5 hours before the flight after 2 weeks. Huge amount of energy was taken.

I have now nearly 12000 km. This is the first stage and I will continue after a little rest in India and Sri Lanka. New Zealand and Australia are awaiting with a biggest stage from Perth to Sydney. Hope for luck, good wind and no problems. My new wheels and some equipment is arriving soon with Heni. After more than 1000km on the road in Uzbekistan I should throw a wheels to the trash bin.