One girl, one XT250, many kilometers from Australia to The Netherlands, Chick on the Chook Chaser

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
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    The Netherlands
    Hey! good to see you're entertained by the adventures :)
    Totally would have been an easy fix, but I'll give it away... This wasn't the end of that story. To be honest I still don't know if it was diesel or not.... More updates next week ;)
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  2. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    Dec 15, 2011
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    Frederick, MD
    There are great people everywhere. I'm glad you have good luck finding them.
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  3. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

    Joined:
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    Out There Somewhere
    Brilliant adventures! Spent this mprning catching up, so now we are just a little behind "real time". I had a small laugh at your "authentic" experience with Laura & her family's massive dinner- seems your whole trip is pretty darn "authentic"! :thumb
  4. sophijo

    sophijo Been here awhile

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    SE Michigan
    Great report! Thanks
  5. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for the supportive replies! really appreciate your comments!
    This week, unfortunately no relevant photo's... The rain and my general frustration with the bike troubles have made me a very bad reporter!
    So instead the pics are from one of my favorite corners of the world, and a place I haven't talked about on this forum at all, Australia :)

    October 19, 2016

    Today my bike import expires. So I get up early, have breakfast with the family and when the little boy leaves for school I leave for the border. It’s raining again, but I’m excited and dressed for it. Let’s get to Iran! The first 100 km the rain is on and off, more of a drizzle then real rain. But then the drops get bigger and the throttle starts to feel weird again. When I open it past two-thirds it doesn’t respond, when shifting gear it struggles to pick up… At first I discard the issues as left-overs from the diesel, maybe the fuel injection is dirty or something in the engine. But the more it rains the more issues the bike shows. Until at some point it simply stalls. I’m in the middle of nowhere, next to the highway. A truck flies past and splashes me with muddy water. Shit, I have to get out of here and reach the border. Starting the bike is no issue, but once I turn the throttle it cuts out… I try again and again. Finally it picks up revs and I let the clutch out. The Chook Chaser is bucking like a rodeo bull, constantly going from full throttle to nothing. Like this, in first gear I completed 3 kilometers in 15 minutes. This isn’t going to work! Should I try to get a truck to drive the bike and me the last 150 km to the border? Then I figured that if I shift up, it might go a little faster. Sure enough in second gear the average hiccupping speed is now almost 30 km/h. The higher the gears the higher the speed and the ride also got a bit smoother. Still, it’s far from ideal, but if I continued like this, at least I will make the border in time. Unfortunately the highway now goes through villages, with people, traffic, and even worse, traffic lights. Stopping and starting is a real challenge. Cars are honking when I can’t get going and when I pass to avoid slowing down. Sorry people, I’m not doing this for fun either! Slowly the issues seem to fade. The throttle now has two stable continuous positions, too little and too much, but at least it’s reliable. The longer I continue, the more the rain clears and the better the bike goes. Finally I make it to the border, two hours before my papers expire. The Azerbaijan side is all quick and easy.

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    The Iranian side is far from that. Not a single English sign, a lot of little windows and many men running around frantically. Until one of them approaches me with the message “I work for customs, I help you” I’m a bit sceptical but it looks like there is no choice. When he took my Carnet and ordered me to “Wait here” it didn’t feel right. So instead of waiting I followed him from window to window. Piece of paper here, stamp there, next stamp, next window, check my bags take a photo of the license plate, next window, next office, closed, call the boss, wait… All and all there would have been no way to do this without this guy, and his proper English speaking friend who tagged on a bit later. Once the paperwork was all finished they showed me to a hotel and exchanged money. By then, they just seemed genuinely nice and I had forgotten about my previous suspicions. So when he asked for twenty dollar I was shocked. Damn it! I should have known! I paid, but not the full amount he was asking for, and later learned that they made a big profit on exchanging the money too… Now there was no point in dwelling on this. I better got my bike fixed. So even though it was 7 PM I pulled the covers off and inspected the wiring again. Nothing unusual… Then I studied the circuit diagram my old Aussie mechanics sent through… There were some options, but my knowledge wasn’t sufficient. I’ll call my dad tomorrow.

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    October 20, 2016

    It took most of the day to buy a simcard (once bought it appeared it will take two days to register the thing before it will work…) and, finally in restaurant number 8, find some wifi. The people in this little border town hardly speak any English, somehow the translator on my phone is of no help and it continues to rain. In the Iranian equivalent of the Pizza Hut I call my Dad. Together we stare at the circuit diagram a bit more, and go over all possible causes. The most likely seems to be that the fuel pump relay is short-circuiting. I get back to the hotel and locate it. Pull it out, clean the rust, no effect. The fuel pump still turns on while the key isn’t in the ignition… Then, in a moment of inspiration I decide to swap the headlight-relay and fuel pump-relay. They should be the same. Once that is in there is no whizzing sound while the ignition is off. Yes!!! Yihaa, problem solved. However, when I start the bike the throttle still doesn’t work properly, the revs go up unevenly, sometimes it responds when I turn the throttle sometimes it doesn’t… And sometimes, for no reason, it cuts out. With an audience of 5 local kids I perform a bit more relay swopping and try to check the wiring. It’s all properly wrapped and tugged away, unlikely to short circuit, so I’m not sure I should pull the tape off. The kids love the show. With large eyes they wait for me to start the bike and rev it. At some point they notice that once I connect the battery, it means the bike will be started. They are curiously getting closer and making vroom-vroom noises. Despite the supportive audience I can’t find the issue. At 10 PM, exhausted and still analysing in my head I make some salad and get to bed.

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    October 21 & 22, 2016

    More bike tinkering, calling and googling. The guys at the pizza hut graciously point me to a seat as soon as they see me. They’re not even asking if I want to order something, they let me do my wifi thing and at the end of the day make an awesome pizza. On the third day in Astara I finally get the bike going. I messed around with the side stand switch for a bit and poured some injector cleaner in the tank. As by magic the bike runs perfectly again. Jippie, now I can leave this cold and rainy little border town and find the sun again! Since it is already 2 PM I decide that packing and going is not worth it, it gets dark around 5 in this part of Iran. Instead I do something that has long been on the list. I finish the first draft for the first book, about the Australia part of the adventure. At 2AM, ecstatic with this milestone I finally close my laptop. Tomorrow I’m of to the dry parts of Iran!

    October 24, 2016

    I do a little dance, the bike still sounds and feels great in the morning. This means I can empty out the room where by now my belongings have been spread all over. Around 10 it is all nicely strapped on the Chook Chaser. The rain is still coming down relentlessly, the fourth day in a row. But I’m excited to get on the road. The first hour it rains, then the sky clears a little. The water now only comes from the surrounding cars that trail a cloud of water behind them. Not much later, even the road dries out. Lucky me. I finish the last 100km close to the Caspian Sea before turning inlands. The hills separating the sea from the Iranian inlands are heavy with clouds and then the water hits my visor again. Luckily through all of this the bike seems to be holding up fine. The further I move away from the coast the more the sky clears, and before I know it the first rays of sun in over a week warm up my face. Ow how I missed that big ball of fire! It is still about 200 km to Karaj, my endpoint today, when I notice the throttle response is not as snappy anymore. I’m on the highway now, and when I open it up fully the speed won’t reach over 100 km/h. Then, on the uphills, it starts to lose power. No no no, not again! As I proceed the situation deteriorates. But the weird thing is how inconsistent the issue seems. Sometimes the bike responds perfectly, sometimes almost half of the throttle is freeplay (for lack of a better word). It’s now only 80km to Karaj and I can still keep up with traffic. So the best thing to do is to keep going and have a good look at the poor machine later. In Baku I met Hani, an Iranian who has a travel agency and is an avid couch surfer himself. He invited me to stay with him and his parents. When I arrive at the house it turns out his mum is an English teacher and travelled to many places in Europe. She is extremely excited for the arrival of her new guest. We have a lovely evening discussing travel, politics, the world and the universe at large.

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  6. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    473
    Location:
    Lowlands
    Hi Chantal, just caught up reading....what a great adventure! I admire your courage and perseverance. Alone, in the rain and cold, middle of nowhere, with bike trouble.....you are one tough girl!

    Hang in there, good luck with sorting out the bike, I am sure you will succeed. Enjoy the ride home, I will enjoy following your RR!
  7. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Its someones birthday today! Happy Birthday Chantal!
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  8. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
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    Frederick, MD
    That's cool. Happy birthday.
  9. HBLQRider

    HBLQRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Southern California
    Amazing ride report!

    Can't wait to read the book.
  10. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for the b-day wishes. The Iranians, once again, showed their tremendous hospitality and made my birthday super special (as you will read below)
    Also reason for another small celebration, this is the 30th "weekly" update on this RR!! Only a few more coming before reaching Holland mid December, so enjoy!

    October 25, 2016

    Poori, Hani’s Mum convinced me to go to her school. After she retired as a teacher she founded her own school, of which she is now the principle. The teaching staff received me all so warmly. The big fruit bowl was filled up and we feasted on pomegranate, mandarins and grapes. The school had only 20 students, all girls. When, after their first hour, they noticed the motorbike parked in the hallway their curiosity was beyond limits. One by one they came to the principle’s office, just to spy on this stranger. In the next hour we gathered them all in one classroom and I told about my trip, showed them pictures and answered all their question. It was an amazing experience. Twenty girls, all 17 or 18 years old, curious, enthusiastic, full of dreams and plans. After the talking came the photos and selfies, some of them even invited me to their houses. They showed me around the school, explained what they wanted to study. When it came time to leave one of them bravely asked if she could give a hug. What followed was a rain of hugs and I love you’s. Wow. So speechless!

    Once back at the house it was time to get to work again, the bike… I checked more things, talked to my dad, called the mechanic. And with a list of new possibilities for tomorrow washed the grease of my hands. One of the students had been so persistent, Poori and I were having dinner with her family. When I entered the house I was surprised to learn that it was one of the girls who didn’t speak any English and therefore had been very quiet during the day. She looked so different, without her scarf, with a lot of make-up, dressed like any ordinary 17 year old. Immediately I was told “There are no man, you can take the scarf of”. Her Mum cooked us a feast and the neighbour volunteered to help, meanwhile being super curious about this bike riding girl. With Poori’s translations we could communicate a little. The hospitality of the people is here is so heart-warming! I’m so humbled by it.

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    October 26, 2016

    Bike repairing day! I was determined to get it fixed today. In the apartment building’s parking I took the Chook Chaser apart for the I-don’t know how many-th time. I checked all the things we discussed yesterday, but with no effect. Around 11.30 I gave up. There was no other option then to go a mechanic and go through the ordeal of, “You are a women, sit down while the men work” and the even worse “Since we don’t speak the same language there is no point in explaining what happened” Hani proved himself the most generous host and went with me. For the first 15 minutes I watched the mechanic check all the things I had already ruled out. But he worked methodological and his workshop was actually clean. Then he announced he was very sorry, but he had to go somewhere for the afternoon. We could come back later. So at Hani’s office we had lunch and I bowed myself over another upcoming issue. The obliged green card insurance for Europe. Annoyed at Iran’s internet restrictions, blocking blogs and facebook pages with useful information the clock urged to go back to the workshop. Arrived there it turned out that the mechanic’s son studies English and could perfectly translate. Yes! He continued his quest. I had to sit on my hands not to interfere with his work. Eventually it looked like the petrol pump didn’t work properly. Instead of the petrol jetting out at firehose force it was dripping like an ice cream on a hot day… It was obvious, but it doesn’t explain the fact that the issue gets so much worse when it rains. Eventually I can convince the, by now 3 men, to try the pump of a different battery, to avoid all possibly faulty electrics in the bike. The result, the exact f-ing same. The mechanic promised to track down a new pump in Tehran tomorrow… And I called my dad. We discussed the situation. What could possibly make the issue so much worse in rain? Or what could have killed both the relay and the pump… We didn’t get to the conclusion yet. Maybe a faulty regulator?

    October 27, 2016

    The mechanic offered a lift to Tehran. The plan was that he would chase down a pump and I would go and be a tourist. He explained, with hands and feet, that we would first get a pump and then he would drop me in town. But it turned out a bit differently. We arrived in bike central of Iran, on these three streets every shop had something to do with bikes, and they all had their specialty. After 10 or so parts shops we finally made it to a shop with big bikes. They were sure they could track down a new pump. We sat down and performed the usual ritual of admiring their merchandise and drinking tea. After an hour mechanic number one returned, no luck. Number two jumped on his bike give it another try, meanwhile we had lunch. Upon his return there was more bad news. The pump is not available. I tried to explain, for the fourth time (I think this was actually the first time they were listening properly…) that this pump is used in multiple bikes, and listed the different models.

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    All of a sudden mechanic number one jumped up, and ordered us to come with him. We went straight to a tiny little shop, not more than two meters wide, maybe 5 meters long and stuffed with bike parts. Within seconds the right pump was located. Yihaaa! Now it was a matter of putting things back together again, and testing. When we arrived back in Karaj it was already dark. Tracking down the pump and navigating Tehran traffic had taken the entire day. When we put the pump in the tank and connected it all the issue was still the same…Shit, I just spend a whole lot of money, and I’m not much further… We tested some other things and finally pulled the injector out and cleaned it. After that the bike felt like new. We pieced together the puzzled. The broken relay short circuited in the rain, drained the battery and overheated the pump. Now with a pump that still pulled some petrol through, but had no pressure anymore, I could still ride, although not fast. Also, slowly dirt built up in the injector. And that caused the uneven throttle response. All because of a broken relay… that is a very expensive 2 cubic centimeters of black plastic!

    October 28, 2016

    In the morning I went to pick up the bike. It felt good, finally. I forked over the required amount and saw my stash of dollars shrink notably. In Iran you can’t use bank cards, so you have to carry in all your cash. The bike better keeps working now, because my cash funds can’t take another blow like this. Friday here, is what Sunday is in the west. So today more family came over and we had some beautiful food. In honour of my upcoming birthday (tomorrow) I decided to bake an apple pie. It is quite a process, keeping me busy a large part of the afternoon. But the response from the entire family, plus my feeling of being home where my grandma taught me how to bake this, were more than worth it. With the dough left over from the pie we made cookies, heart and flower shaped, with coloured sprinkles and m&m’s on top. Twenty eight is a perfect age for heart shaped cookies with coloured sprinkles!

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    October 29, 2016

    Last night Rehanne and Hoomer, one of the sons of the family I’ve been staying with, took me to their home in Tehran, to make it easier to go sightseeing today. First we had a luxury birthday breakfast and then we went to the Golestan palace. This palace, which is already amazing in itself, houses several small museums. We saw old Iranian paintings and a wealth of luxury goods and gifts the old king received from nations all over the world. There were revolvers from the US, furniture from France and China, porcelain from England etc etc. It was really an incredible collection. But the most remarkable were the mirror rooms in the palace itself. The walls and ceiling were full of little mirrors, reflecting the light of the massive chandeliers. As if we walked into a fairy tale! After the palace we walked along the Grand Bazaar and had lunch at an Iranian “fast food” place called Moslem I highly recommend this place if you make it to Iran!). The line to get into the restaurant went around the corner of the street, inside it was a chaos. But once we got our food it all made sense. Not counting the wait outside, this was possibly the fastest great food has ever arrived to a table. Hereafter we went to the jewellery museum. Housed inside the national bank the security is high, and there was a lot of waiting, as only 100 people are allowed into the vault/museum at the same time. After we entered through the vault door there was gold, silver and gem stones everywhere. It was a 28 year old little girl’s shiny and glittery dream! The crown of the day was a visit to the Milad tower. Milad, in perfect theme with the day, means birth. We zoomed up to the top floor in an elevator at 7m/s. just over 300 meters straight up. Through the glass doors we could see the world getting smaller. Once at the top the view was breathtaking. The sun had just dropped under the horizons and little lights started to appear everywhere. Soon the entire city was lit up, a sea of little dots, with the highways like white and red snakes meandering through it. It was the perfect view to end a most memorable birthday. Thanks so much to my hosts and tour guides for the day Hoomer and Rehanne.

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  11. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Do you want to see more pictures and follow the journey through Iran more "real-time"? Have a look at Instagram, chick_onthe_chook_chaser :)

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  12. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    And then there was finally an end to the misery! Want to know what was wrong, and even better, how you could avoid similar issues, read on!

    October 30, 2016

    An early start today should get me all the way to Isfahan. After the last delicious breakfast my bags were finally strapped onto the bike again and I was ready to go. But when I hit the start button it was hard to get the bike going and I noticed a strong petrol smell once the engine turned over. Shit there was fuel leaking everywhere. Rather than getting off and unloading I decided (probably a bad decision…) to ride to the mechanic around the corner. It soon became obvious he didn’t connect the fuel hose properly, an issue that was solved easily enough. Finally I was on the road again. Once properly out of the city there were a few hills. I was taking it slow to test the bike again, but as I went up the hill there was again “freeplay” at the end of the throttle. I shifted back, but also in fourth the last little twist of the throttle did nothing. Shit, maybe the injector is dirty again? I poured half a bottle of injector cleaner in the tank and gave it another 10 kilometers. But the issue only got worse. It felt like something was blocking the fuel from getting to the engine. Maybe the fuel filter really was too dirty? I parked, offloaded the bags, took the seat, side panels and tank off. I noticed that the fuel hose was doubled up, maybe that blocked the petrol? To test it I started the bike, the fuel should have been jetting out of the tank, but it didn’t… It wasn’t quite dripping but there was clearly something wrong. I was convinced it was the petrol filter. I took the fuel pump out of the tank, got out the scissors from my Swiss army knife and was about the cut the fuel filter off when a an insight struck me. Maybe it would be more harming to the engine to ride without a filter? I decided to consult the one person who had been helping throughout the entire bike trouble time. “No you should absolutely not ride without a fuel filter!” stated Dad from the other side of the continent. We discussed emergency fuel filters made from cotton bags or socks, but eventually I decided to wave the white flag, pack up and crawl the 80 km back to Tehran at max 40km/h. I was terrified to kill the fuel pump again and having to put down another 250 dollar. On every downhill I turned the engine off to give the fuel pump a rest. Every 10 km I stopped to give the pump a chance to cool down, in case it was running hot. I, for a split second, even considered loading the bike on a truck but then decided to just plot along.

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    Around 4.30 PM I entered Tehran. The throttle response was completely uneven, but the bike was still going. Navigating the out of control Tehranian traffic became just another battle in the war of getting this bike fixed. Finally I made it to Dariush bike shop, where the mechanics who had previously found the new fuel pump. If needed, they would find the parts, they were my best bet. Kamal and Rasul, the mechanics, were happy to see me, but sad to hear the reason of my visit. Immediately the bike was put it the shop and they got to work. They read the fault codes from the ECU (engine control unit) off the dashboard and with that immediately gained my trust. Finally someone who knows my bike! They cleaned the injector, fiddled around with some other things and tested the throttle. It felt good again, but I couldn’t get the feeling out of my head that there was something wrong with the fuel filter. I insisted to replace it. They said it should be ok, but if I wanted to replace it they would find me a new one. When we took the filter out, Kamal tried to blow through it. To his amazement my suspicions were correct, the thing was totally blocked. When we discarded the petrol from the tank into a container we made another discovery, there was water in the tank! Shit! By now it was 9 pm, too late to find a filter, too late to fix the bike. Rasul invited me to stay at his place for the night. I took a few things and my laptop and Kamal walked with me to the house. Once there it became clear that both mechanics and two other guys lived there, just the 4 of them. For a second I was wary, was staying here a good idea? But I trusted these guys, it would be fine. Once in the house Kamal confirmed my gut feeling by declaring “You are my sister, welcome home” We had a great night of broken English, watching photos and videos of the trip and Kamal showing me how they fix and reprogram ECU’s. I knew I was in the right place, they are able to fix the Chook Chaser.

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    October 31, 2016

    In the morning a new fuel filter was tracked down. But when Kamal tested the old filter, he could now easily blow through it… Odd… but then I realised it must have been water being trapped in the filter that blocked it, and therefore prevented the fuel from reaching the engine. The filter was still quite dirty, so replacing it was the right thing to do regardless. Thinking about it, it all started making sense. Every time the bike magically worked again the fuel filter had been out for a while, giving the water a chance to evaporate. But once I’d travel about 100 km, the water from the tank got trapped in the filter again, and started blocking it. This combined with a short circuiting relay, broken pump and dirty injector has been the puzzle on my mind for two weeks. The guys were phenomenal. They checked and cleaned a bunch of other sensors, tested the bike properly and taught me how to use the diagnose menu on the dashboard. It was exciting to be able to read the battery voltage and throttle range! With many thank you’s and photos I went on my way, back to Karaj. The guys told me that the price the mechanic there had charged me for the fuel pump was way higher than he had payed, plus his wages were outrageous in their eyes. I had to go there tomorrow and demand my money back. In Karaj Hani and Poori were fabulous hosts again, what a nice place to come home to!

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    November 1, 2016

    It was time to practise some diplomatic, but pressing, persuasion and get my money back. Hani volunteered to help translating and explaining the issue. Together we went over the story twice, thought about possible response scenarios and Hani even called the Motorbike Mechanics Association for their advice. Armed with knowledge, optimism and good spirit we arrive at Beyroz’s shop. We did our story, he was clearly annoyed. Then he started writing out a “receipt” listing everything I supposedly payed for. But once we explained I knew he overcharged massively for the pump, his facial expression changed. He had been caught out. A bit of a discussion later, he basically admitted his mistake and handed back one of the crispy 100 dollar notes I gave him two days ago. Phew, that was a lot less hot-headed then I had prepared for! I could finally ride to Isfahan. About 100 km into the trip the wind started picking up. I was now in a desert area, with a big hazy cloud quickly approaching. I soon realised that it wasn’t rain, it was sand! Within minutes I was in the middle of a raging sand storm. The headwind combined with a serious hill made me question the Chook Chaser’s health for a little while. But then I came to the brilliant realisation that I was pushing a fully loaded 250 CC bike through an apocalyptic storm. Sure shifting back to 4th was a normal requirement! Dust managed to enter my helmet and hit my eyes. When the road turned south the wind came from the side, forcing me to angle the bike into it while trying to swerve within my own lane. Isfahan was still well over 300km away and I was praying to no particular god to please end this sand blasting. The sky finally cleared almost 100 km after I entered the dust cloud. What a battle! I stopped for a pomegranate-juice lunch and was immediately invited by a passing truck driver to drink tea. He put down his little Persian rug next to the big wheels and we sat down, glass in hand, just looking at the traffic, unable to have a real conversation. After the break I completed the resting kilometres to Isfahan in one go. Upon arrival there the door of the hostel was opened by Asher, one of the guys from the China crossing group. We hadn’t seen each other since 4 countries (aka 2 months) so once we realised we were so close to each other we made it a point to meet. While enjoying a double meal of falafel we laughed until our jaws hurt over stories of broken bikes, the Pamirs and the deserts. It was great to see each other again!

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    November 2, 2016

    Time to explore the culture of Isfahan. This city has the second largest square in the world. Around it are multiple architectural highlights, such as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and a palace with on the top a music room where the wind creates sounds. The architecture of the town is dominated by blue tile mosaics similar to the ones Uzbekistan is famous for. We walked around, visited the famous buildings and the bridges. It was a very nice and relaxing day, apart from one little aspect, the scarf all women have to wear in Iran... It was very windy, so every 30 seconds the cloth I so carefully draped over my head was blown off again. It is a mystery how the women here do it! Towards the evening there was good news. Carl, member number three of the China posse, was on the way to Isfahan. We had an evening of more story sharing and laughing. We mourned the loss of Carl’s bike and ate too much pizza to fatten up for riding in European winter.
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  13. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Especially for the picture lovers among us...

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  14. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Now because I've been a bad blogger, and didn't keep you up to date, there is another week to report on. Enjoy!

    November 3 and 4, 2016

    In the morning Asher and I showed Carl to our most treasured find of yesterday. A great coffee place. Take aways in hand, almost as if we were somewhere in Aus, we made our way to the great square. It is so entertaining to just watch all the people there. Together we enjoyed the last rays of summer sun and each other’s company. Asher was on an even tighter schedule to reach Europe than me, so around 12 he loaded up his not-so-loyal steed and left town. For the rest of the day, and the next day, Carl and I relaxed, read, wrote and had great conversations. We discussed plans for the future and made a pact to stay in touch and review each other’s progress in making the world an even better place. To seal in our plans and goals we had a great dinner at a lovely new restaurant.

    November 5, 2016

    It was time to go my own way again. With a big hug and a last coffee Carl and I parted ways. So I went en route du Shiraz! Yes, that one from the wine. But the Shiraz grape didn’t come from France, it came from this old city in Iran. The 400-something kilometres between Isfahan and Shiraz are mainly flat desert country. But nature is never boring and today it put on an amazing sunset show. The pink, orange and purple over the endlessly wide horizon was a more then pleasing sight. In Iran it gets dark really early, so when I entered the city around 6pm it was already pitch black. In the dark little streets I tried to find the hostel. When I was close to the intended destination I asked some touristic looking people for directions. Indeed the hostel was just around the corner, and actually, they were staying there too. Soon it became clear that the couple was also from the Netherlands, so we switched to my rarely spoken native language. Together we went to a modern looking restaurant with the luxury of an English menu for dinner. It’s the little things that count!

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    November 6, 2016

    One of the highlights in Shiraz is a Mosque with stain glass windows. I went there early in the morning. The rising sun and the colours of the windows created the most intricate patterns on the Persian rugs that covered the floor. At this time of the day there were only a few tourists, which made the experience even more magical. I went back to the hostel, had a good breakfast and was invited by Saskia and Sicco, the Dutch couple to join them in the afternoon to visit Persepolis. There were still a few hours before departure into ancient times so I visited a famous Holy Shrine. Because it is a holy place all women have to wear a chador (a long piece of fabric covering you from head to toe). Well, I thought a scarf was a challenge… I now have tremendous respect for women who can wear this massive wind-catcher gracefully while handling kids and groceries! What a struggle, the thing kept slipping of my head, or I stepped on it, or it fell off completely when I tried to take a photo… Since foreigners aren’t allowed inside the shrines I was out of the complex and out of the chador very quickly. Ancient cultures are more my thing. First we went to Necropolis, 4 tombs cut in the rocks, dating back thousands of years. Then on to the big one, Persepolis. I was amazed by how much is still intact. With a bit of imagination you can easily see the grandeur of the palaces. Reliefs cover most of the walls and the entrances to the buildings are guarded by massive mythological figures. Unbelievable that people created this thousands of years ago! At the entrance to the ancient city I spotted two big German bikes and a French Land Cruiser… Overlanders… And indeed, not much later we passed a couple in bike pants. Excitedly I went up to them. When I introduced myself the guy said: “You are the Chick on the Chook Chaser!” For a second I was stunned, what, how!? He explained that they had been following my trip for months, as inspiration and preparation for their own trip. Wow, I’ve never been recognised like that before, really cool to actually meet the people who follow my adventures! After we took our time machine back to the 21st century we met for dinner. A French couple by car, two Germans on (what else then) BMWs, an Italian guy on an old Vespa and me. An unexpected meet up of Europeans in a French sounding city in the south of Iran!

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    November 7, 2016

    My original plan was to leave today. But it felt like I hadn’t seen much of the city and there were so many interesting people here! Staying one more day seemed a better option. I walked through a beautiful bazaar, tasted some of the local delicacies and visited another mosque. Shiraz is really a nice city. In the evening I met up with the French overlanders. We indulged in Iran’s best fast food, falafel, while discussing travel, life and the world we live in. Later they showed me around their house on wheels. All you need in a few square meters…. It’s handy, the comfort is tempting, but I still love my bike too much!

    November 8, 2016

    Today feels like the beginning of the end. From here it is only North and West to reach the Netherlands… With mixed feeling I load up the Chook Chaser. Some photos with the hostel owner. Photos and big hugs for Sicco and Saskia, I promise to stop by if I’m close to their place in Holland. Then a last stop to say goodbye to the other overlanders. But you know how those things go, instead of a quick goodbye we get into a lengthy conversation about bike maintenance, spare parts and oil quality. Finally around 11 I leave the city. Last night Marie and Cyril pointed out a great spot in the desert. So instead of heading to Yazd, I make my way back to Isfahan. On the way I think about what I will do when I’m back in the Netherlands, what life will look like. The 480 km pass by in no time.

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    November 9, 2016

    Adventure time! First there are some 150 km of road to cover. But this appears harder than anticipated. In Iran motorbikes are officially not allowed on the freeway. The free navigation app I use however doesn’t know the difference between highway and freeway, and so I regularly find myself in the wrong place. Now usually, if there is a freeway, there is also an old normal highway. However, not today. By the time I realise my navigational error it’s too late, I would have to go back more than 50km. Doing 100 km extra would mean too much time lost, and no desert today. I decide to risk it, in my head practicing what to say if the police pulls me over. Halfway there is an entire group of big bikes going the other way, reassuring me I’m not a total criminal for riding here. The scenery is stunning, red brown mountains, snow on the peaks. The bike is struggling a little and immediately I fear the worst. But judging from the snowy peaks and the general cold we are at a bit of an altitude here. Maybe 100 km/h uphill is just not realistic. As soon as the road levels off all is fine again and I can put my paranoia back into storage. From the city of Kashan a good gravel road leads into the desert, to a salt lake. I pay the necessary entrance fee and aim the tyres at their favourite surface. What a treat to be on gravel after all those perfectly flat highways. I fully enjoy the little challenge the road brings, the sandy bits and the manoeuvring around potholes. The scenery is also stunning. The light from the sinking sun warms up the colours of the red brown desert sand. The heavy bike slides around in the sand, but it is at home here. This is likely the last off road on this trip. Maybe the last camp spot… I find a nice place, close to the sand dunes, looking out over the salt lake. Home for tonight. I pitch the tent, cook and eat dinner. The closest neighbours are over a kilometer away. I sing along with the music coming from my phone, off key, as loud as possible. I dance around under a big moon and millions of stars. The world is beautiful, life is beautiful, and everyday I’m grateful for being on this amazing trip!

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    10ecjed likes this.
  15. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Iran is too fascinating to keep these from you!

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    roadcapDen, coug66, 10ecjed and 3 others like this.
  16. hyrumfoink

    hyrumfoink real gone~

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    land of the big silence....south utah
    wow fantastic journey! interesting stories! thank you!... [with a big smile on my face.....chris
  17. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for your support! I'll keep you all entertained for a few more weeks until reaching The Netherlands in the middle of freezing December. That will sure make for some good stories! ;)
    10ecjed likes this.
  18. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,780
    Location:
    vancouver bc
    excellent. thanks for posting!
  19. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 Uber-Noob

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Chantal I am glad you got the bike sorted... =)
  20. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    Excellent report and pictures. Keep on going, it's gonna be cold on your last leg to Netherlands in December :)

    Groet
    Ruud