Jumping chains & punctures amongst autumnal paradise

The last two days would see us complete our final climb in Iran and drop down to the Aras River valley. We would them follow the Iran-Azerbaijan border for a while up stream before heading into Armenia. 

The cycle would end up being an amazing ride – definitely in our top 5 of the trip! 

Incredible mountain-scapes, steep valleys, rolling green hills, picturesque villages perched precariously on cliff tops, and best of all, the whole landscape draped in an incredible Autumnal tapestry of gold, pink and red trees. We definitely caught this ride at the best time of year!

Along with the amazing views came a few problems however. The back chain continued to jump and we had to start zigzagging our way up any gradient bigger than about 7% to prevent the chain jumping… Concentrating on achieving a steady and smooth pressure and speed also really helps. This is all much harder on a heavily loaded tandem so we really had to work hard on the hills. Hardly ideal but it’s working so far! 

Here we are at the top!

Later in the day we got three punctures! Yes, THREE. Lucky we bought those new inner tubes in Tabriz. We spent a long time on the roadside that afternoon before finally diagnosed the problem… The protective tape inside the rim had bunched up… Thankfully we just had enough electrical tape to fix the problem but we were down to our last tube after a number of patches had failed.

The wheel seems to be holding up ok and we hope it’ll last until the next town where we can buy some more tubes. 

We stayed in a basic motel that night as we didn’t roll into town until after dark having spent the best part of the afternoon fixing punctures on the road. The next morning we cycled along the river. Great views once again! The puncture repair seems to be holding and we enjoy picking pomegranates, walnuts and figs from all the road side trees.

This part of the world is famous for its white pomegranates

We camp in a family’s garden but the next morning wake up to a flat tire… Slow puncture… Today we have to cross into Armenia but thankfully we’re only 22km away… 

We spend the whole morning sticking patches on only to pump up the tube and have them burst. We finally get one to hold but it lasts for 2km before giving up. By this time it’s 1:30pm and we spend another frustrating hour on the road gluing, waiting, pumping and getting more and more hungry.

Irananian kindness saves the day when a guy (who had obviously already driven passed us once) takes time out of his day to bring us mutton stew and rice. We eat hungrily before loading the bike up for the third time that day.

We make it across though and suddenly we’re getting our exit stamps for Iran and crossing the Aras into Armenia! 

After all those punctures we felt we definitely deserved our first beer in nearly 5 weeks!

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