A double dose of wet feet

30 08 2010

My super outdoorsy socks have been doing an excellent job of wicking sweat away from my feet and keeping them dry in the 40 degree heat… that is until the last 2 days.  Today the temperature plummeted to a wintery 18C and we cycled through a silent shroud of drizzle, mizzle, mist, fog, and rain, all day, resulting in sodden shoes, sodden spirits, and strong memories of days on the South Downs Way.

As to yesterday’s cause of wet feet…. carefully reading our map of Azerbaijan, we identified a lovely route on the ‘main road’, there’s motorway above and ‘secondary road’ below…. so think ‘A’ road; we did. Little did we know that there was, in fact an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ road… and guess what – we found ourselves on the old road.  It is apparent in Azerbaijan that once a new road has been built the old one is left to die a crumbling, dusty death. Without this prior knowledge and with a characteristically blasé hue to our decision making processes we proceeded to rattle and shake over 40 km’s of unpaved roads that would have challenged even the hardiest of mountain bikers (which we are decidedly not!).

Adjourning for lunch and to eek out our compacted spines we were soon joined by the obligatory trickle of cheery eyed old men who stood admiring our bikes and gently probing out intention.  Our plans drew sharp sucking in of breath and warns that this next section on this, now a little tiresome ‘old’ road, was ‘dangerous’ and that there was a river crossing!  … But it was only another 40K, and we had been on jumbled roads all day anyway, and hadn’t we crossed enough dry river beds today to not worry about that (scoff), and with sirens singing thoughts of staying in a converted caravanaserai (very cool!) we gamely plumped to bungle ahead. Some 20 juddering Km later we were feeling pretty confident and pretty pleased with ourselves. Then we rounded a corner and laid out in front of us was the lovely bridge (under construction) and the wide, multi channelled, fast flowing, river. ‘Better get our feet wet’ chimed Catherine as I marched in to test the depth and sunk to my knees, wobbling frantically to balance against the insistent flow. . A little deeper than comfortable… so we unhooked all the bags and like a packhorse I shuffled backwards and forwards with kit and bikes.  Safely on the other side, no slips, trips or falls in the process… everything dry (apart from our feet) we set off again… to be faced with a second river to cross.  Fortunately this one was shallower than the first and we managed to push our bikes over.  As we slumped on a pile of rubble, like two exhausted, shoe draining, sprouts ….a tractor with large empty trailer drove by… first vehicle going in our direction we’d seen for about an hour… sod’s law!

A really tough and highly satisfying 120Km day that landed us snug, smug, (if a tad shaken and stirred) in the fine old caravanserai of Seki. Pive anyone?

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