CHRIS & GABS APRIL NEWSLETTER

Author: Chris & Gabs – May 09, 2019

Cycling for… 307 days
Pedaling over… 7896km
Through… 16 countries
Currently… in Georgia!
Raising so far… £6,282.20


CLICK HERE for a special video message from Chris & Gabs


This month we’ve visited…Turkey & Georgia!

We’ve continued our tour through Turkey and have cycled from Ankara to Aksaray, Göreme, Yozgat and then over to the Black Sea coast into our 16th Country – Georgia!

The most beautiful area has been…

We had our first experience of a Salt Lake – Tuz Golu! We cycled across miles of remote land to be able to cross the salt lake to Şereflikoçhisar.

The intense whiteness and sparkle of the salt crystals look deceptively like snow and ice.

With its 643 square mile surface area, Lake Tuz is the second largest lake in Turkey.

Fun Fact: The 3 mines operating in the lake produce 63% of the salt consumed in Turkey.

Click here to watch a video about Salt Lake Tuz.

Göreme, which is in the region of Cappadocia, is an
amazing wonderland right in the middle of Turkey. It’s one
of those rare places that must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. It
has soaring rock formations, uniquely-rippled landscapes, splendid walking
trails, mysterious underground cities and rock-cut churches.

We stayed there for a few days to go and explore the caves and underground cities. However, the absolute highlight was the hot air balloons! The only down side was that we had to get up at 4am to hike to the top of the rock to get the best view point for seeing 100 hot air balloons take off. It was spectacular. The colourful balloons filled the sky and the baskets filled with people were just floated right past us. (Definitely worth the very early morning!)

Click here to watch a video about Cappadocia.

The most bizarre experience has been…

We were heading off on our bicycles in Batumi
(Georgia) when a guy stopped us to talk. He told us, ‘the British had just
docked.’

We were a little confused… but cycled along the coast to see what he meant and ended up having a fantastic meet up with the HMS ECHO and met all the Crew onboard. It was great to hear British accents and we also met crew from our neck of the woods too! (Bolton and Salford.)

Click here to watch a video about the HMS Echo.

The most challenging part has been…

Out of the 6 weeks cycling across Turkey, we’ve had maybe 5 ok days of weather. The rest have been freezing cold, wet and extremely windy. With long isolated roads for days on end – Turkey has been really challenging.

We’ve experienced similar back in the Balkans (if not worse) but that was a few months ago. We’ve been on the road for so long and the weather just hasn’t given us a break in 7 months. We feel like the issue is more to do with the accumulation of bad weather and mixed emotions. Unfortunately, Turkey hasn’t been our best experience due to this. Although the people have been truly amazing towards us! If it wasn’t for them, Turkey could have broken us.

A special highlight this month has been…

…an amazing surprise!! Not only did we meet a fantastic couple from California (Dallas & Hannah) but we were also taken up the mountains by a local to go skiing! BIG thanks to Serkan from Göreme. The people in Turkey are the kindest and friendliest people we have ever met. Dallas & Hannah were motor biking around Turkey for their vacation, so we spent a lot of time with them, they definitely made our time here in Cappadocia great fun. Hannah kindly let Chris use her motor bike so we could all go off into the mountains to explore.

Next, we are heading to …

…Tbilisi in Georgia. We know the next stage of our journey is
going to be even tougher as we‘re going across the Stans: Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and then into China.

We aren’t restricted by visas in Georgia so we’re spending time
here to plan the next steps – logistics of the routes, time scales (with visas)
and mileage to each border.

We’ve heard that its not that easy to cross the border into
China. (We must make sure we choose the right border crossing as we cannot
afford to get turned away!)

Thoughts and feelings?

It’s been ‘300 DAYS’ since leaving our home in the UK! To
date we’ve cycled over 7000km through 16 countries and are now in our second
continent – Asia.

Let’s just say…it’s not been easy at all. We tend to only
post photos and videos of us happy and smiling, but that IS NOT always the case…we
are human too! We have only got where we are today by literally shedding blood,
sweat and tears. The fight to not give up has been somewhat paramount!

Even though we call ourselves “experienced cyclists” we
never had any experience for this type of tour. We could only rely on our past
experiences of our previous 2-month tours. Factor in the different living
conditions, weather, weight of the bikes and you think you are sort of prepared
(erm…not the case!)

Over the last 300 days we’ve wild camped in our tent for 280
days! From forests, farmers’ fields, under bridges to abandoned houses, the
other 20 days have been either staying with friends or at hostels/hotels.

We have endured 7 months of dreadful weather. We can count
on one hand how many warm sunny days we have had. From torrential rain,
constant head winds, snow and subzero temperatures (as low as -20). Over the
past few months we’ve had no end of mechanical problems, flat tyres, broken
chains, pannier racks breaking, buckled wheels and broken spokes etc..

We are learning new things about ourselves and life in
general daily. This journey is testing us to our limits. From extreme physical
pain to emotions we never knew existed, no one ever said it was going to be
easy, but you never know how it’s going to feel until you’re in the thick of
it.

From the good days to the bad, it’s a
complete rollercoaster of a ride, just like life, you don’t know what tomorrow
is going to bring. You can only try and assume, so when it’s a good day,
cherish that moment, take nothing for granted, and when it’s a bad day (hang on
in there!)  – the storm will pass, and
you will get to your destination!

Chris & Gabs

Chris O’Hare and Gabriella Gratrix are no strangers to a challenge, but this year will see them face the biggest challenge of all, as they set off to cycle around the world for Prevent Breast Cancer. This epic journey will see them cycle over 100,000 km across 7 continents, and will take around 7 years. If just reading those figures leaves you breathless, pencil in the fact that many areas won’t have roads, and some mountain passes are almost impassable, even harder given the fact that their bikes will weigh over 55kg when loaded with kit! Now, that’s some going!

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