Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 50

TRAVEL we discuss the schedule for the next day. Since the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited in Iran, we drink tea instead of beer. The term “Caspian Sea” is actually deceptive; independently of that, we – of course – have to check whether the world’s largest inland lake actually contains any salt: it’s not even that cold and considering the fact that the showering situation is not quite clear yet, it feels rather good. We dry ourselves by the fire. Our trail highlight is set to take place the next day. Andrew and I get excited like children when Hassan’s buddies Mohammed, Mehed, Tehali and Behzad tell us their story, but maybe that’s just due to the tea. On the schedule: 16km of single downhill trail – reason enough to get excited, alright. Hassan sleeps outside, but in the middle of the night, he joins us on the flying carpet due to the rain. The next morning, none of us can believe our eyes, it’s raining buckets outside. For now, the dream trail will remain just that. Our schedule is tight so we decide to continue riding towards the desert to see our luck there. Hassan’s downhill team riders Tehali and Behzad join us. Full of motivation, they want to show us their country from its best side. That, incidentally, is something all Iranians seem to be quite fond of, as they always have time for a quick chat. Where are you from? Do you want tea? Bavaria, Munich? Borussia Dortmund? Götze? Selfie? And always in that order. On our way to the desert, we stop at a local downhill track. Wide, tree-free slopes make for a completely different mountain biking experience. Once again, we are as impressed by the trails as we are by the landscape. Hassan is extremely proud that we like it so much. To him, this strip of land is his personal “rampage track”: “Like Utah, don’t you think?” In the desert city of Kashan, we encounter tourists for the first time. Prior to that, our visit seemed like a journey into another epoch. Nothing but locals and authenticity in a completely remote land. Kashan is very historic, the palaces and old buildings are beautifully furnished, everything is beige and brown. The inner city reminds me of Star Wars. Andrew emerges from around the corner on his bike like Luke Skywalker from his space glider. Together, we explore the bazaar, haggle and still can’t come to terms with the money and all the zeroes. Then we come across the old city walls of Kashan on which hundreds of years of erosion have resulted in a kind of pump track. Andrew tries out a few jumps, but then we move on before the wall collapses. The next few trails are near Tehran, where we do a few fi nal rounds together with our new Iranian friends. Soon, it’s time to say goodbye, to a country that couldn’t be more diverse and more contradictory. The people here are incredibly open and think in very Western terms, quite different from what we were expecting. One thing is certain, we will be back. “HIS REAR WHEEL turns it into a video game … as i constantly have to react to the rocks in front of me.”