Riding the Silk Road, 2002-2009)

Riding the Silk Road, 2002-2009)
Where it all began: Xian, May 2002

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A map of the trip

So here, a little small but still legible (I hope; actually it doesn't look so hot, but if you double-click on it, it will reappear larger and more legible), is a map of where I went in 2002 (green) and 2004 (pink) and where I plan to go this year (blue). The map is from the Silk Road Foundation website, source of all sorts of scholarly knowledge about the trade in goods and ideas along the Silk Road.

I still don't have my Iranian visa, and I need to phone the embassy to see what's going on. I wonder whether, with the current protests in Iran after the elections, whether visas are being delayed to keep snooping foreigners out. I'm watching the various blogs and websites covering the Iranian unrest; it's exciting and very uncertain times for Iranians these days.

I talked with Peter Vallance at Rocky Mountain Bicycles yesterday and got a clearer picture of what my new bike is going to look like. I'm very excited, and pleased that they are sponsoring me with a new bicycle.

I'm going out riding most days, trying to get my 40-year-old legs, atrophied by two years of sedentary living, back into riding shape. I'm hoping that, as usual, I will ride myself into shape.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Getting closer

Ottawa, June 8, 2009

At long last, five years after finishing the second leg of my Silk Road ride in Tehran, I'm a month and a bit away from restarting the trip. When I got to Tehran in 2004, I anticipated riding further, through the Caucasus and Turkey to the Mediterranean, in 2006, but somehow that never happened; my 2-year contract in Egypt turned into a 4-month stint, and then I was broke and needed to work. In 2005 I had a fantastic 7-week ride across the lunar landscapes of Ladakh with Audie and Saakje, and in 2006, when I should have been riding the western end of my journey, I couldn't arrange a visa in time, and I was really too broke for a big trip, so I rode through Vietnam instead, another great ride. Then I settled down from 2006 until a few days ago in Myanmar, and didn't have the big chunk of time necessary for a long bike trip, although I did spend two unforgettable months riding through Mongolia with Audie and Serge in the summer of 2007. I didn't get in any bike touring at all in 2008, but I'm trying to make up for that with an extra-long one this summer now that I'm contentedly unemployed.

So now I'm doing a bunch of things I should have gotten done earlier but didn't find time for: equipping the new bike that the good folks at Rocky Mountain Bicycles are providing me, getting Iranian and Azeri visas (the Azeris are a real bunch of post-Soviet rip-off artists!), spending time with my mom and dad here in Canada, and trying to write more about the previous legs of the trip so that I can interest publishers in a book about the ride. This morning, I'm off to see the Iranian embassy and get my visa; time to dress up and look respectable!