Along the Golden Road to Samarqand
“Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells
When shadows pass gigantic from the sand
And softly through the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand”
A glorious sunrise along a busy stretch of road and a late breakfast and we arrived in the Uzbeki city of Samarkand, known for capturing the hearts of Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. The riders were more excited about two days rest! There was a dewy covering on the tents our orchard campsite this morning and, once again, the road was fairly flat and mostly bumpy, inter-mixed with some crazy traffic and a bit of construction. Errol made grilled cheese sandwiches at lunch so the riders are loving having him based in the lunch truck, or should I say, the gourmet truck! There was a small hiccup in the convoy plans; two routes into the city meant that 11 riders took the wrong turn so instead of the one convoy, we had two separate convoys to the hotel. Of course, the police decided to do a no-show, so it was our green support van and the two Af Routes trucks fighting off the rush hour traffic and escorting 40 tired and thirsty riders into the wide, leafy green street that houses the Hotel Shabistan, nick-named by one rider as ‘the pink palace’! Its bright pink and gold exterior does no justice to the large comfortable rooms that are the inside and riders soon made use of the couches and the beer shop just down the road. Our sectional riders Victor, Hans and Jurgen…to them we bid a sad farewell and we welcome Jean (from Canada) and Michael (form Holland) into the Silk Route family, both old cohorts form previous TDA tours! Tonight, the beers and cold juice are flowing, the hot showers running wild and riders are hunting through their permanent bags for clean clothes to wear to dinner as well as looking forward to a long sleep!