12 -16 Nov Istanbul to Ankara

27km to Bursa
86km to Bozuyuk
90km to Eskisehir
100km to Sivrihisar
120km to Ankara

9527km so far

After a long weekend in Istanbul, staying with a wonderful warmshowers.org host, Aytaç, I moved on again. It was great to stay with someone who shares my passion for adventure cycling and also invaluable help for me as I would have felt so lost in Istanbul and the streets are so busy. The traffic and crowds make cycling a test of your nerves.

It is also a great place for drinking tea. You can drink tea everywhere in little glasses, or get an Ayran (drinking yoghurt). And I certainly found everyone friendly, and felt quite safe. Also Aytaç took me to a bike shop and I got Silver fully tuned, and she feels a lot better.

It was the first time on this tour that I have been in Asia and I should have been celebrating but I must admit I was struggling with being in such a huge city and combined with my first bout of homesickness, missing my girlfriend, and uncertainty about the way ahead, I was feeling anxious and worried. So I simply took the step to move on. I navigated my way to Kabitaš to catch the ferry which reached Madunya at around 2pm and then there was a 20km cycle to Bursa. I got a flat tyre on the way and also met 2 cyclists who talked and took me for tea. I only did 27km but I was moving again. And also I did meet some great guys who work at the Kirci hotel in Bursa.

The road from Bursa, past Inegöl, climbed up to 1000m above sea level. I only managed 86km before the sun went down. It is now getting very cold when the sun isn’t out and the temperature plummeted. I camped on the side of a hill near Bozuyük which was quite difficult as I had to sleep at an angle. And I couldn’t find a way to warm my feet up.

In the morning I put on cold wet shoes and socks and found I was cycling in thick mist. My feet were so cold it hurt. I stopped at a gas station restaurant. It was so nice to walk into a warm room. I asked for soup by pointing and tried to warm up my feet by rubbing them. The guy there noticed I was in pain and gave me some cream to rub in. It worked and my socks dried a little.

Back on the road, I was relieved that the sun was coming out.
It was a long main road to Eskisehir and pretty dull riding. I was miserable but when I reached Eskisehir I found a bar called Memphis bar and stopped for lunch. The waitress chatted to me a little and I explained what I was doing. She gave me a t-shirt as a gift but also 2 friends of hers, Essra and Gizem turned up on bicycles. They offered to show me some nicer places away from the main roads and I gladly agreed. We cycled to a park with a castle like Disneyland, a cafe to drink tea, where we also saw women making grape molasses, and a lake in a nature park. It was great. We cycled back in the dark and went for a drink back at Memphis bar. They even found me a sofa to sleep on that night. It is days like these that make the miserable lonely days worth it.

The road towards Ankara was a flat highway at about 1000m altitude. I rode (with a bit of a hangover) but made long stops to get food and drink. I managed 100km before it was dark and cold again so I stopped at a hotel at Sivrihisar.

The next day I was determined to get to Ankara. Although there was some climbing it was a straight road and I just put my headphones in and kept my legs pumping. At a petrol station, a man named Hassan rushed out and shook my hand and asked me to come in. We talked and he made me a sandwich. It was nice to speak some English with him and sit in the warm room. When I was leaving I asked for “hesap” (the bill) and he said “no hesap. for your trip”.
Another example of the kindness and generosity of the Turkish.

And then finally as I reached Ankara, my new friend Abdurrahman called me and asked where I was. And 2 minutes later I was sitting in a warm car in the Ankara traffic on my way to his home. I met his son and his wife and ate manti (like gnocchi but with yoghurt and spices) and asure (a fantastic desert like rice pudding but so much better) and drank tea.
Abdurrahman and his son cycle and we talked about his trips and looked at their photos. I also had the greatest shower ever (it has lights which change colour according to how hot the water is!!!!) and a great night’s sleep.

Today we are going to a Turkish folk music choir practice for the festival of Mevlani.