After facing three days of 30km/hr headwinds from the Turkish border to the outskirts of Istanbul, the final day’s ride into Turkey’s cultural capital felt like a breeze, particularly in the company of Tobi, cycling from Germany to Iran, and Katharina and Christoph, also on a two-wheeled adventure spanning Europe and Asia. It was good timing that I met them because after three days of infuriating headwind I was thinking to throw my bicycle into the Bosphorus and walk back to the UK in a grump. Luckily, it only takes minutes of laughing with other cycle tourers to remind you why you do what you are doing.
Istanbul itself was as it had been described: enormous in both size and architecture, rich in culture and diversity, packed with delicious food and very difficult to leave behind. But leave it behind I had to, such is the transient life of the travelling cyclist. Luckily, leaving one experience behind you are always rapidly caught up in the next. I found myself immersed in the cycling community of the Aegean region, taking me from one inspiring cyclist in Soma before arriving to Izmir where I stayed with the founder of the national “Fancy Women on Bikes” movement. I was honoured to give a presentation to the Izmir cycling community and be hosted by cyclists and their friends across the region. I also visited two of the big names in Aegean tourism, the Ephesus archeological site and the hard chalk steps of Pamukkale.
On a statistical update, I’m at 15,589km of cycling in 15 months of travelling. I must have consumed over a million delicious and energy-giving calories and met an uncountable number of people that have challenged, inspired and (dare I admit it) changed me. Also, my legs are tired.
Cycling the Aegean region of Turkey
I caught a boat from Istanbul to Bandirma and cycled through the fields of cotton wool, pomegranate, peppers and olives trees on the Turkish side of the Aegean sea. The region really came through with regards to cycling community hosts who housed me, fed me and generally showed me a good time in their village, town or city.
Aegean region, you have much more to offer I know, but this cyclist is aiming for Georgia before the serious winter sets in! Onwards to Turkey’s Mediterranean region.