I arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, around noon on May 2nd, 2022. Unfortunately, my Surly touringbicycle did not. Neither did any of my gear or clothes.
This wasn’t the first time a tour of mine had been delayed due to lost luggage, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Fisherman in Istanbul
So I remained calm and used the time to explore Istanbul, the city that divides Europe and Asia.
For the next few days, I walked dozens of miles, visited numerous Mosques, ate exotic foods, and just stared in wonder and the incredible endless cityscape of Istanbul.
If you’re a traveler who enjoys history, architecture, food, and shopping. Istanbul hits all the notes along with a distinct cultural experience.
My bicycle arrived on the third day. I intended to tour about 1,300 kilometers to Athens, Greece, over the next two weeks, so I was eager to get started and immediately put my touring bicycle together.
Bicycle Touring Turkey – Istanbul to Silivri
I started out early and began navigating the chaotic streets. My bicycle tour from Turkey to Greece was officially underway.
Things went very well at the beginning. It was a little chilly, but the riding was nice. Then my mapping program put me on an interstate. The cars were flying by. There was barely any shoulder. It was loud, smelly,
My first glimpse of Turkey’s coast
and dangerous; this wouldn’t work.
I exited the interstate, and for the next six hours, I pieced together a route using service roads, parks, sidewalks, basically anything I could find.
Near the end of the day, things began to look better. I caught a glimpse of the coast and even managed to find a safe but steep road to ride along.
At the end of the day, I found myself in Silivri. A cool little port town still in the firm grip of Istanbul‘s urban sprawl.
Bicycle Touring Turkey – Silivri to Tekirdağ
It was cold, freezing cold. I had obviously done a lousy job at packing the right clothes. Thankfully, I decided to throw in a pair of gloves at the last minute.
I rode on thru the morning. Slowly the buildings peeled away, and the countryside began to creep in. Finally, I was on the coast. With the Sea of Marmara on my left and a patchwork of fields on my right, the cycling was beautiful. It was precisely what I had signed up for.
The road I was bicycling on had a sizeable distinct shoulder. So even though there was some traffic, I always felt safe. Thankfully, this continued until the border of Greece.
I ended the day in Tekirdag, Turkey. A relatively large city on top of a huge hill. Ugh! I painfully climbed the crowded streets for an hour to reach my hotel.
Bicycle Touring Turkey – Tekirdağ to Kesan
Today started as the coldest morning of the trip, but I quickly warmed up with a 4,500 meter, 7% grade climb. It was slow going and challenging, a theme that reoccurred throughout the day.
The route across Northern Turkey was up-down, up-down. There would be 30 minutes of climbing followed
Not all Turkish food is delicious
by 5 minutes of downhill. Repeat.
During today’s ride, the scenery changed to endless fields stretching to the horizon in every direction, with only an occasional island of civilization.
At the end, I was whipped. I had covered over 100 kilometers to reach Kesan, another city on top of a hill.
I will also mention, the quality of food had dropped drastically since leaving Istanbul.
Bicycle Touring Turkey to Greece
I left Kesan early, eager to complete the 30-kilometer ride to the border at Ipsala, Turkey.
The scenery became more and more desolate. It was cold and harsh but gorgeous.
Crossing the border from Turkey to Greece on my touring bicycle was ridiculously easy. The entire process took less than 5 minutes. Naturally, I was excited to be in Greece.
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I was cycling South along the Moroccan coastline as the sun began to rise and revealed the surf. There was a beautiful head high groundswell. The surf was epic! I hadn’t planned on surfing that first day, but the ocean was too tempting on that chilly January morning, so I began looking for a spot.
I found a route towards Bangkok that took off me of the main highway. I was feeling horrible, but the backroads offered some of the best touring of my trip. The scenery was spectacular. There were dirt roads that meandered through lush green rice patties and limestone towers. The route was peaceful and empty except for the occasional village.