TDA Global Cycling
Until his recent death the oil-rich country of Turkmenistan was best known for the bizarre personality cult of its President for Life Saparmurat Miyazov (called “Turkmenbashi,” or “leader of the Turkmen”). Ashgabat is a city being transformed into a fantasy of white marble palaces, modern apartment blocks and large fountain complexes. From here we turn south and tackle the high hills of the Turkmen Steppes, whose quiet roads lead to the Iranian border.
Today the wonders of Persian history are veiled by Iran’s Islamic Republic and its difficult relations with the western world. At the border crossing the Ayatollah’s photo stares down and intimidates the faithless. As we dare to remove the veil and enter a world less traveled, we are rewarded by the hospitality of the Iranian people, the natural beauty of their country and the richness of its history.
After visiting the town of Bojnurd, where we will enjoy rich Iranian cuisine, we pedal towards the provinces of Golestan and North Khorasan. The abundant flora in Golestan National Park will provide a pleasant contrast to the desert’s uniformity. These stretches of land were ravaged by the Mongols and then by Tamerlane during the 13th and 14th centuries, leaving little trace of their former glory. Far from the Persian Dynasties of the south, their peoples are eclectic, and not often visited by foreigners; the beauty is in the contrast of skins, the sound of tongues, and the rituals of faith.
Set at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, Tehran is home to 14 million people and Iran’s political and social melting pot. Here one can see all the components and contradictions of Iranian society, from traditional chadors to modern fashion, from the National Jewels Museum to miles of unsightly concrete block buildings. While Tehran’s size and bustle, markets and youthfulness can be an assault on the senses, a relaxing glass of tea is never far away.
Western Iran has been at the centre of many of civilization’s earliest empires, with its fortunes shifting between trading glories and military decimation. Spinning over mountains and past dense forest, our route takes us to Tabriz, once an oasis, now a sprawling city renowned for its Blue Mosque, whose early history is enshrouded in mystery as the possible site of the biblical Garden of Eden.
From Tabriz we’ll quickly come to the Turkish border. Our first day in Turkey will pass by the Ishak Pasha Palace, an 18th century Ottoman castle built into the side of a mountain, a wonderful place to enjoy a cold beer after the “dryness” of Iran. Afterwards green hills open up into plains where Kurdish shepherds tend their herds. As Mount Ararat, reputedly the resting place of Noah’s Ark, sits high in the sky, life appears to have changed little since biblical times.
11 Nights in hotels - 12 Nights of camping
All roadside lunches
Afternoon soup on riding days
Vehicle to carry your bags
Experienced tour leader
Security as needed
Commemorative tour medal
Celebratory final dinner
Pre-tour information bulletins
Pre-tour rider discussion forum
Those coming for multiple sections get 10% off for 2 or more sections on the same tour (multiple section discount does not apply to full tour price).
Ride other sections or the full epic.
Registration fee of $150 USD to hold your place
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