On the final stretch to the religious capital we had an unusual crowd of supporters. They were a bit shy, showing their heads and once you caught the black eyes of these furry guys they scurried back to their holes. We munched our lunch on the turning point of the mountain that was the final obstacle between us and our next destination. Or so we thought. While our food was digesting, the wind picked up and the clouds started moving in familiar, ominious ways. As before, Yuri and Stef liked to stay ahead as long as possible and shifted into 30th gear to stay ahead of this bastard. We made great time again, going downhill and pushed by a sandstorm to a maximum of 90km/h. It was all fun and games until the wall of sand closed in on us once again. When it hit us, seeing became impossible. Eyes full of dirt and sand, and the sun completely vanished. Cars came almost to a full stop and had to put their highbeams on. After a while breathing started becoming an issue as well, since the sand crawls literally everywhere. We could hear it filling up our ears, clogging up our mouth and worst of all, in our gears and chain. No bicycle deserves that.
When the worst of it had passed the road bent a bit left, to our dissapointment, and we had to do the last 40km with a heavy sidewind. No worries though, because we made it to Mashad four hours faster than expected. After the reunion, we all knew what was next on the menu. S S S SSSSHIRMOZZ! Probably the best one we've had yet. The owner was super friendly and treated us to some of his specials, since he saw what we just went through.
With a satisfactory brainfreeze, we took off to the other side of this massive city, towards our new host Majid after Anton ate a live goldfish.
Majid and his wife are also great cycling enthousiasts, and as usual we exchanged many stories about both our adventures. Later that evening, to our great pleasure, they brought us to the opening of a friend's indian restaurant. Here we met a dude from Canada, and another from England. We laughed, ate, drank, and ate some more. It was nice being able to talk a fluent conversation again, while sitting at a regular table, given good food.