Day 61. Thursday, September 28. Kayacik restaurant camp to Sile. 96.2km of riding, with 1,625m of climbing.
Well, the first of the lasts began this morning. We had the last of our tour camping breakfasts, and last night was our last night in tents. The very kind lady running the restaurant at Kayacik had let us camp in its spacious grounds. I’d pitched my tent under the trees, just steps from the children’s playground – I didn’t have the energy tho to have a go on the slide.
This is a photo of our breakfast this morning, and a photo of the restaurant. As far as we could tell last night it had very few customers; and they chose to drink beers etc rather than eat – handy in a Muslim country where most places don’t serve alcohol. So, rather more of a pub than an eatery.
Our ride today was under 100km but had 11 hills – at least those were the ones steep and / or long enough to warrant our cycle computers tracking them as we climbed them. “Don’t underestimate the day,” said Jo, the crew member who briefed us on the route before dinner yesterday evening.
We members of the Dane Train took our time through the rolling inland country before lunch; then took even more time on the rolling coastal country after lunch. Our route took us through a number of bays, each with small coastal community…with a steep climb out of each followed by a fast descent into the next.
Karacakoy was the only one we stopped in – for our afternoon drinks stop at a beach café. But it served only tea (for which we were very grateful) not soft drinks or any food; and there were only two people sitting on the beach on the warm afternoon. Sure signs that the tourist season is over. Indeed, the light did feel slightly autumnal.
As Celeste messaged me after seeing the video, this could be a tourist beach in many places in the world. But it was very sobering to remember a brutal war over on the Black Sea’s north shore – some 250km away – has been raging for 18 months so far with no end in sight.
Sile was our destination today. An old fishing village which still has a thriving fishing fleet, it’s some 90 minutes by road from Istanbul, so tourism and holiday homes have turned it into a town…with still some beautiful sea views.
This evening we had the first of two celebratory end-of-tour dinners. Tonight we had drinks and chat in the garden of our hotel. Followed by “the shirt ceremony” – in which each rider is given a souvenir cycling shirt of the trip. We’re all wearing them for our ride into Istanbul tomorrow – I’ll send a photo of mine then.
In prep for the presentation, we had each filled in a questionnaire about our experiences over the past two months on the road. Then the MC (Jo, one of the crew) chose hilarious extracts from each rider’s before giving them their shirt. There was a fabulous photo show from the entire trip too.
Then we went to a neighbouring restaurant for an excellent dinner. I took the photo below from the long table I was sitting at.
And tomorrow, our last day’s ride is 92km into the heart of Istanbul…beginning on the Black Sea coast then following the Bosporus into the city. It’ll be a grand finale!