Author: Chris & Gabs – April 05, 2019
Cycling for… 280 days
Pedaling over… 7053km
Through… 15 countries
Currently… in Turkey!
Raising so far… £5,625.70
This month we’ve visited…Greece – Bulgaria – Turkey
On March 11th 2019 we crossed the border into Turkey – our 15th country! An exciting thing for us this month was we entered our second continent. One side of Turkey is Europe the other side is Asia, so from leaving Istanbul (Europe) we cycled a few miles over the huge bridge to Uskudarr (Asia)
The most beautiful area has been…
The roads we took from Kuzuluk to Ayaş were very remote with views of the mountains and huge valleys.This is a vast area of mountains and surrounded by forests and unspoiled nature.
Istanbul was remarkable for all the elaborate mosques. Around Sultanahmet Square is where you’ll find the city’s biggest cistern, it’s grandest mosque.
It’s wonderful to cycle along the water front to see the Boukoleon Palace, Ancient palace ruins which is located on the shore of Sultanahmet and to see Asia just a short boat ride across the other side.
We were eager to cycle into our second continent. We chanced the crossing and rather sharpishly crossed the bridge into our second continent (however, no bicycles are allowed across the bridge…but there were no signs to indicate this…)
Heres a video of their crossing!: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/03/22/continent-2-asia-over-the-bosphorus-bridge/
‘You live and you learn…’
Our first town we stayed at in Turkey Kuznetsk, we went into a cafe bar for a drink and food so Gabs walks in first very confidently only to be very quickly escorted out the door. We soon learnt the customs in Turkey, they have many men only cafes/ bars and alcohol is not sold in public places. (Even with Gabs shaved head she didn’t pass as a man so we could not go in.)
The most bizarre experience has been…
We were camped up one night just off the side of the road out of sight, a great little spot as we had a fresh water fountain near by. It was really cold so Chris decided to make one of his ‘small camp fires’.
It warmed the inside of the tent up perfectly! We got into our sleeping bags cosy for the night watching the fire dye down.
We were suddenly woken by men’s voices shouting down at us so Chris got out the tent to be confronted with what he thought were the police as they had uniforms on and looked armed.
We thought we were going to be arrested or fined but they were the forest rangers and instead of shouting and putting the fire out they got their shovels and dug up soil and placed it around the fire, got some rocks from the stone wall, then they put more wood on the fire to keep it going.
They told Chris that they just wanted to show him how to contain the fire from spreading, they shock his hand and left.
The most challenging part has been…
We left Istanbul and had to cycle on the equivalent of the Turkish M6 (without a hard shoulder to cycle on!) See for yourself just how terrifying the roads are here: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/03/23/a-typical-day-cycling-the-busy-roads-of-turkey/
It was so busy, noisy and there were SO MANY buses! The cars and wagons love to sound their horns at you to let you know they are there, or passing, or just to get your attention and wave, but with so much traffic it’s just constant vehicle horns blasting.
This road was mentally challenging, you really have to stay alert especially at the slip roads where vehicles join the road.
The last two days of March have been very taxing, one day we only cycled 5 miles as the weather turned on us, it was 80mph gusts of wind and it dropped to -15. There was no way we could cycle in that wind and we were just tiring ourselves out, so we had to stop and find somewhere to stay.
‘A massive diesel spillage.’
When we came around the corner to join back onto the road it was too late. All the cars were skidding, sliding, spinning around then the next minute Chris goes skidding along the road with his bike on top of him then bang the same thing to Gabs.
She could not get up as it was like being on ice.
Each time Gabs tried to stand up and haul her bike up she would go sliding down again. A couple of guys came over to help and they managed to get her off the road onto the car park. A bit battered and bruised we continued cautiously.
A special highlight this month has been…
We’ve been busy in Istanbul raising awareness! We had a great morning at TRT World News a popular TV channel in Turkey. They spent the morning filming us cycling along the harbour and then they did an interview with us. Watch a video of the coverage here: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/03/30/trt-world-news-2/
The next day we had two radio interviews, a live interview for Talk Radio Europe on the breakfast show in Spain and a prerecorded interview for Rock FM in the UK. You can listen for yourself here: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/03/25/talk-radio-europe-in-spain/
We also met with two members of Europa Donna – The European Breast Cancer Coalition. There are members from 47 countries. Europa Donna represents the interests of European women regarding breast cancer to local and national authorities.
Sema Erdem and Gulcin Sogut both Breast cancer survivors. Gulcin is still having radiotherapy but when she finishes her treatment she is going to continue her world motorcycling tour.
It was wonderful to listen to their stories and how they are involved in raising awareness of breast cancer. They are two very inspirational women.
Here is a film about their meeting with Europa Donna in Turkey: https://chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com/2019/03/21/europa-donna-turkey/
Next, we are heading to …
We will still be in Turkey and heading to Goreme to see Cappadocia (Turkish: Kapadokya) it is an area in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks. After staying at Goreme for a few days to explore we will then make our way up to the Black Sea to Samsun.
Thoughts and feelings?
We left Greece with the sunshine following us but our first day of cycling in Turkey the weather completely changed back to winter, we had gale force winds and heavy rain, the side gusts of wind were knocking us of our bikes especially when the long heavy goods vehicles came hurtling past us.We had to shorten our mileage and find shelter at the next village. We have to keep a count of our mileage because of the visa, we have three months to get across to Georgia so we must keep to a set mileage per day, if we do less then we have to add it on to the next day. So just a little bit of pressure especially when we have been cycling so slow.
The people in Turkey are the friendliest, we can be cycling on a busy highway and cars will pull up in front of you, they get out and bring you bottles of water and food, it has happened so many times. This is really uplifting especially when you have had enough.
The end of the month we were exhausted mentally and physically. A lovely couple Rose and Jimi both from Lancashire are teachers here in Ankara. They invited us to stay with them for a few days so we could relax and take time unpacking and repacking again.
We need to make our cycling more comfortable for us both as we are determined to keep going. The greatest motivation is looking back at our tracker on the map and seeing how far we have come and also most importantly seeing our fundraising amount go up.
We were so pleased that at ‘A Night in Havana’ we raised £650.00 from auctioning off our signed Manchester City Football top. It makes it all worthwhile.
Like the roads we’re cycling on, we’ll continue to take the ups and the downs. We’re ready for the next challenges on the roads ahead.