Tehran is one big, wild and crazy, Islamic City! I checked out of the Foreign Infidel’s Clinic (where they set my broken collarbone) and found myself amidst a bustling beehive. For a culture that frowns on sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, this city can party with the best of them.

Last month’s “Golden Stoat” had to be put down by a local euthanizing mechanic. And, much like a pet shelter back home, I was able to adopt a new friend on the spot, once we had administered all the proper shots (i.e. 0.125 liters of oil in the chain, 3 drops in the rear hub, 4 bars in each tyre, etc.).

My new indigenous 3-speed looked like it was constructed by a local hookah/samovar artisan, and was made to hootenanny! With hand-tooled lug work, tobacco stained handle grips and a seat vaguely reminiscent of a large, used tea bag - this stead was definitely a pre-owned animal. I let “Ali Baba Ghanoush” (as the stead was branded) know that I was just returning back into the saddle after being thrown, and would appreciate a bit of decorum.

With a firm grip on the reins, we headed out of the city, due east, into the arid heartland of Iran. I was quite surprised to notice a shift in attitude from Ali - a direct corollary between the city’s distance, and a loss of austere studliness. 500km out and I had Ali eating out of my hand, as we moseyed along, singing subversive old Beatle songs... Ali’s favorite Beatle was Ringo, as his vocal range was quite manageable, even with a thick Farsi accent.

When the time came, I hated to part with the ol’ crooner, and I saw to it that Ali found a good home. He now resides at a nouveau-riche, Persian dude ranch, and on the weekends he sings baritone, in a bicycle shop quartet.  Saddle-weary, and hankering for my ol’ singing partner  -Global Freddie.

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Criterium Corner with Euro Freddie