Day 62. Friday, September 29. Sile to Istanbul. 92.3km of riding, with 1,146m of climbing.
We did it! The Dane Train pulled into our hotel car park In Istanbul just after 3pm this afternoon, completing our 62-day, fabulous and fascinating adventure across central Asia. We spent 44 days riding 5,200km through six countries, roughly splitting our overnights between camping and hotels.
Here are two photos of us…just to make sure everyone looks good in one or the other! To my left are Søren, Nina, Lars and Jette from Denmark, Jerry from Singapore, and Joanne and Warwick from Canada.
Every day of the tour threw new challenges at us. Today was no exception. We had two hours of rain riding this morning. Moderate but enough to get us thoroughly wet. Then it doused us a second time as we cycled the 10km or so along the southern (Asian) shore of the Bosporus between the city’s two huge road bridges over it, which link Asia and Europe. This photo is our first view of the Bosporus, with the easterly of the two bridges in the top left corner.
I was greeted at our hotel by Stuart, a very good friend since we pre-teenagers started secondary school in Solihull…some 62 years ago. He and his wife Jane spend a good chunk of their year at their Mediterranean seaside home at Kalkan in southern Turkey.
Stuart made a special trip up here to Istanbul to greet me. It was wonderful to see him. He came to our celebratory dinner this evening…then we’ll hang out together in Istanbul tomorrow before we head to our respective homes on Sunday.
After just a brief chat with him, I had to plunge into packing. Given our very strict biosecurity measures at the New Zealand border, that meant a deep clean of my bike and related equipment (I’ll do my camping kit tomorrow), and than disassembling and boxing the bike for the flights home. Below that photo, is one of our celebratory dinner restaurant, and the street it’s on, near our hotel. This evening for us (and many of these diners) the city fully lived up to one of its nicknames – Dersaadet, the door to happiness.
Apologies this is a shortish, last-day blog. But it’s still very full on here! Give me a chance, tho, to get home and to reflect on these past 10 weeks and I’ll write a post-adventure wrap up blog a week from today. So please check back then!
Lastly, two very big thank yous. To my fellow Silk Roads’ adventurers – riders and crew. Some 40 of us, including local drivers and guides in the six countries we visited. You were terrific companions. Your good humour, help and friendship brightened every day, solved every problem and heightened every memorable moment.
And my hearty thanks to you readers – family and friends – for following my travels and encouraging me every pedal-stroke of the way. Many times, just when I needed it, I heard you cheering me on.