Up over the mountain in the sunny but crisp morning, and a spectacular vista opens out before us, breathtaking in its size and scope. A canyon of epic scale with a lake far, far below. Today was a day of rolling down into the canyon, through cherry blossom fields, and across a white, chalky landscape to the town of Beypazarı.

Drahtesel on the way to Beypazarı

Drahtesel on the way to Beypazarı

Down through an alpine forest from Mihalıççık to open out on a canyon lake-bed vista that went on forever.

Looking out over the vast panorama

Looking out over the vast panorama

Dropping down to the valley, we passed a village of cherry blossom.

Cherry blossom village

Cherry blossom village

The lunar landscape was bright in the dazzling sun. White and creamy brown cliff faces on the side of the lake, with a layer of green. The road rolled over the undulating landscape, with the blue lake on the left and chalky cliffs of the right.

Chalky landscape

Chalky landscape

James cycling through the chalky landscape

James cycling through the chalky landscape

Beypazarı

Beypazarı

Famous Beypazarı 80 layer baklava

Famous Beypazarı 80 layer baklava


Feeling down and out? Cold and unmotivated? Try cycling across plains through a panoramic vista landscape, bathed in a soft light. Add to that a gale-force tailwind, and you have all you need to break those cycling blues. And try passing 6000km while having tea in a super friendly village. That will do the trick.

A long straight road

A long straight road

Sitting in cold and grey Eskişehir at 750m, the road into the mountains of over 1600m with a forecast of colder and snow was not appealing. Our headwind into Eskisehir had us expecting the same. Well, the universe gave us a gale tailwind, even though in the beginning it was still cold.

It's cold

It’s cold

A lunch of soup and pide in Alpu gave us the energy to climb up to Mihalıççık at 1300m.

Lunch

Lunch

Tea

Tea

The climb was nothing, being blown uphill, and my, the scenery was stunning. I thought, at last these views are like I have seen on world cyclist blogs. Long roads disappearing towards the distant mountains, puffy white clouds breaking up the clear blue sky. This was an amazing ride. James and I are really happy to be alive!

Vista

Vista

Vista

Vista

White vista

White vista

James approaching the summit

James approaching the summit

The sun getting low

The sun getting low

I passed 5999km from Eindhoven in the village of Kayi. There was an appealing tea shop calling out to us, so I cycled back and forth in the village – much to the amusement of the locals – until I hit 6000km, and then took a selfie with everyone watching.

6000km

6000km

We were invited to tea by a lovely man who had lived in Germany for 5 years and spoke good German. He told us of a shorter, new, downhill road to our next destination – Beypazarı and he arranged for a place for us to stay in Mihalıççık. I like him! Go to the town hall and ask. We did, and ended up in a hidden hotel with a lovely big electric bar heater. That hit the spot!

6000km tea house

6000km tea house

Bar heater

Bar heater

Day 80. 0km. Eskişehir

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Cycling
Tags: , ,

Our 300km detour to Eskişehir was to have the spokes on our new wheels readjusted. That took all of 30 seconds. The mood fluctuated today as we considered the snow-filled and -10C options of getting to the Black Sea, and why we are doing this.

Sepa, James and me

Sepa, James and me

We were woken up today by a cat that jumped up from the balcony, latched onto the door handle, and opened the door.

The clever cat

The clever cat

We then fell asleep again, adjusting to the rhythm of the student house of Sefa – our cool, laid-back warm showers host. Breakfast was at 13.30, and our 30 second spoke examination at 15.00.

Eskişehir – at an altitude of 750m – is cold. Our planned route to the Black Sea climbs to 1600m, and the weather forecast there is for -10C and snow. Plagued with fluctuating blood sugar levels and low motivation, we considered our options over a salad or two (each). We will continue and reassess – cycling to Ankara if it gets too cold where Sefa has offered to help us find a place to stay. Thanks Sefa, for everything!


There are the side roads that are steep, strenuous and peaceful. And there are the main freeway-like roads that are less steep with many lanes and lots of trucks. Today we chose the second option and slowly climbed to Eskeşehir, accompanied part of the way by our Bilecik friends. Oh. And my first flat tyre of the trip.

Cycling to Eskesehir

Cycling to Eskesehir

The fluorescent troop made it down the freeway-like road.

On the road to Eskesehir

On the road to Eskesehir

And then my first flat tyre on my Koga bike – over 15000km, and nearly 6000km since I left Eindhoven on my world trip. I successfully changed the tyre. Yay!

My first flat tyre of the trip

My first flat tyre of the trip

We are staying with Sefa in Eskişehir – a student at the university, and in a place with lots of cool students popping in and out. Thanks Sefa for the great hospitality!

Dinner at Sefa's house

Dinner at Sefa’s house


Balloon carrying clowns, camping out at the ‘carpet area’, professional photo opportunities, being fed to explosion, and a night out at the theatre watching 100 years since the Çanakkale victory. A fantastic roller coaster ride of Turkish hospitality. Love it!

With one of our hosts Emir in Bilecik

With one of our hosts Emir in Bilecik

It was one of those nights. Lying on our mats in the hall at the local football field (‘carpet area’), James and I looked at each other, our mouths open. We didn’t know where it was all going. We knew it would be good, being led by our amazing hosts in the town of Bilecik.

The carpet area bedroom

The carpet area bedroom

Zooming down from our first ascent to 600m into the town of Yenisehir, we were greeted by a clown, on the side of the dusty road plied by cement trucks, holding a bunch of colourful balloons.
‘Dur! Dur!’ (Stop! Stop!)
I stopped, and the clown took a selfie with both of us.
Then I did too.
Why was he there, I hear you ask..
I don’t know.

Welcoming clown in Yenisehir

Welcoming clown in Yenisehir

Zooming down from our second ascent, this time from 700m into the town of Bilecik, we were greeted by 2 young men in fluorescent yellow safety vests next to bikes, the Turkish flag fluttering above the bikes in the breeze.

Me and our hosts Emir and Hakan

Me and our hosts Emir and Hakan

‘Hello friends. I am Hakan, and this is Emir. Welcome to Bilecik. First we eat, then we show you the town, and then we go to the carpet area.’
We had been in touch with Hakan through warm showers.
The food was delicious and copious – perfect for hungry cyclists.

Dinner in Bilecik

Dinner in Bilecik

We were shown the gardens of the town hall where we were photographed by a photographer – for the local newspaper perhaps? The Bilecik Facebook page? No idea..

At the town hall in Bilecik

At the town hall in Bilecik

After setting up camp at the carpet area, our other Warm Showers contact Fikret, asked if we want to go to the theatre that night. Why not? Off we went, wearing our best evening wear. We were introduced to everyone at the theatre. ‘Welcome to Bilecik, my friend!’

Theatre in Bilecik

Theatre in Bilecik

Tonight was a performance on 100 years of Çanakkale – a terrible battle at Gallipoli – equally horrific for our Turkish hosts and the ANZACS as we were called (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – which James and I were representing). Here 250,000 Turks, Australians, New Zealanders, French and British died in a blood bath for access to the thin straights of water connecting the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. I saw the battle fields first had last year by bike.

Çanakkale theatre production

Çanakkale theatre production

Perched at the back of the theatre looking down, we saw the play – video combination of fighting at Çanakkale. At the break James was thrust a phone into his hand. It was a journalist.
‘What do you think about the Çanakkale victory?’
A lot of young people were killed in a horrible war. Here is the newspaper article.

What a day – and night. Not speaking Turkish, one can only go with the flow, knowing that whatever happens, with our lovely hosts, it will all be good.

Day 77. 66km. Yalova – Iznik

Posted: March 16, 2015 in Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Cycling through the mountains today I suddenly realised – we are cycling across the world. We are on our way across some of the most amazing parts of the planet. Now away from the bustle of Istanbul, we breathed a sigh of relief cycling through little Turkish villages to our very welcoming warm showers host on Lake Iznik.

Small village on the way to Lake Iznik

Small village on the way to Lake Iznik

The mind is willing but the body is weak. Three months of break means those legs are not as strong as they were. We left the main road from Yalova and hit the slopes. Up to 550m, passing some rubbish avalanches

Rubbish avalanche

Rubbish avalanche

and through some lovely mountain villages.

Mountain village

Mountain village

Mountain village

Mountain village

A calorific lunch at Lake Iznik before pressing on to Iznik town.

Picnic on Lake Iznik

Picnic on Lake Iznik

Our warm shower hosts Soner and Inci are amazing, having cycled all around Europe with their 2 year old boy and written two books. After a delicious meal we pondered our upcoming route to the Black Sea. Our route going forward becomes more hilly. Those legs had better get into shape quickly. The mind wants it that way!

Me and James with Soner and Inci

Me and James with Soner and Inci



After three months of winter break in Australia and Taiwan, departure from Istanbul has been imminent.. for over a week. Waiting for James’ frame to pass customs, we have been poised for departure every day. Goodbye the new Green Pedals Istanbul schools. Goodbye my wonderful warm showers host Dinçer. Goodbye Istanbul. And… Hello wide world. The second leg of the bike trip begins!

Farewell to Dinçer and Can

Farewell to Dinçer and Can

James and I descended on Istanbul last week, ready for the continuation of our adventure. Unlike James, his bike was not ready for departure, waiting on an essential new part (a new frame) to be cleared through customs. Today a week of waiting and of imminent departures has come to an end. Straight from the bike shop, we pedalled along the Sea of Marmara coast to Pendik, and caught the ferry out of Istanbul to Yalova.

Farewell at Bisiklet Gezgini bike shop in Istanbul

Farewell at Bisiklet Gezgini bike shop in Istanbul

Thank you Dinçer for your amazing hospitality! It has been great staying with you. All the best with your ultra marathon – 200km in the alps – wow!

I will continue writing daily blog entries, but will delay them before publishing. Stay tuned for updates once every 3-4 days.