Over the Bosporus and into Asia
After a 4-day break in Istanbul, they set of again on Wednesday 3rd November. Cycling
through the rush hour Istanbul is no fun. They cycled across the Bosporus bridge
and passed a sign saying “Welcome to Asia”.
Their route took them through Izmit, the centre of the earthquakes that have so badly
hit Turkey. Richard writes “We arrived just before dusk in Izmit, the cleaning
up job seems to be complete, but there are many shells of buildings that presumably
are unsafe. Of more concern are the hundreds of tents that litter the countryside
and the town, peoples makeshift homes.” Overnight temperatures can get down
to minus ten degrees centigrade. Two days after leaving, another earthquake, six
on the Richter scale, caused more damage in Izmit and the surrounding area..
By the 5th November a new worry – the dates on the Visas for entering Iran. They
must enter Iran by the 28th November and then hope to extend the visas Their latest
estimate is that the Iran border is 22 days away.
Andrew writes “early starts on the road soon after seven, means hats and gloves
are really called for until about nine or so when the sun starts warming things up.
The views are superb
crossing over passes up to 1450m. Although the hills are nice it will also be good
to be down near the sea and on relatively flat low lying land. Tonight before we
arrived in the town (Osmancik) Richard wanted a good hotel and I wanted to limit
it to a max of £8, the two should have gone hand in hand but all we could find
was an unheated room with no hot water and no shower for five pounds. Food is still
kebabs or lachmacun (Turkish pizza) nice and cheap, a meal for £1.50.”
A few days later Richard writes “Today a good 90km’s, starting with a climb
to a 900m
pass then undulating for 40 km’s all the while seeing snow covered peaks off to the
east at about 1400/1500m. The final 40 km’s was superb dropping continually with
small climbs. Now were cycling.”
On the 10th November Richard wrote “Once again we’ve made it to the safety and
an Internet café. This one on the Black Sea Coast, Samsun, Turkey.”
Now the troubles start again, the Saracen bikes have been very good but with the
treatment they have received some maintenance is necessary. A regular supply of spares
from Saracens factory in Warwick was always part of the plan. Some were taken to
Istanbul, while others were to be freighted to Trabzon in northern Turkey. When Richard
and Andrew arrived in Trabzon, no parcel. Two tense days later still no parcel. So
arrangements where made to have it forwarded further down the route. Now six days
later still no parcel.
On the 17th November Richard writes ” From Trabzon the climbing was leg wobbling
and went on for approximately 55km – to an altitude of 1800m – where we found the
tunnel that we
had feared on the map. The good news was that there were no police and there was
no toll in order to pass through the 2km long tunnel – but the bad news was that
there were no lights – and a constant stream of traffic! If anyone wants to patent
a new adrenaline sport this is one for you! – Andrew couldn’t see where he was going
– and I had no rear light – so I feared for the traffic approaching from behind –
then add the fact that Turkish road surfaces are rough – and there you have it ‘Dark
“The rain was persistent for the whole descent – but it was awesome enough
to allow us to ignore the weather – and scream down the hill into Torul down at 950m.
Here we found ourselves amongst sheer cliff faces and jaggedy rock ridges – a veritable
mountain fest! We made Gümüshane – and clocked 100km for the day “.
With the bad weather they have experienced they have particularly good comments about
their Lowe Alpine – Adrenaline jackets and Dryflo T-shirts. Their Carradice panniers
have also performed well keeping contents dry and clean despite the snow, rain and
muck from the roads, and after cleaning with warm water they look like new!.
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