Having never been to Istanbul, it was useful to have been informed a few days ago about the ban on bicycles on the bridges crossing over the Bosphorus.
Consequently, we were driven over the river by Talip, a worker at Agrepa and all round super chap, who promised to ride with us on our next trip if we cycled to India, except that he would be on a motorbike (“motocyclet, no bicyclet”)!
We headed out of the city towards Polonez and soon got a good understanding of the sort of terrain we would be experiencing during our time in Turkey. Though certainly not as bad as some of the hills we may face, the roads North were all either uphill or downhill, and wore our legs in pretty well. In terms of difficulty certainly comparable to the Pyrenees but a little shorter, and with an eclectic mix of surfaces: from sand and potholes to perfectly smooth tarmac.
We stopped for lunch on the beach as soon as we hit the Black Sea coast and lost all the altitude we had sweated for; soft cheese, bread and beef jerky were on the menu, the latter courtesy of Mama Kernick. 🙂
Şile was our destination for the day, and with the disappointing lack of information which our maps provide, we did not realise it was the summer party town for people on holiday from Istanbul, buzzing with swimmers and blaring music!
We settled on a sofa with a coca-cola and appreciated the view! As the shadows lengthened, we headed to find a place to sleep, and preferring to break into the camping as slowly as possible, decided instead to sleep in a pretty house under construction on a hill. Once settled in, we headed out to wash at the local Mosque which the attendant was happy with. On the way out, having seen his son’s interest for my bike, I gave him a race on his which was good fun.
Out of sight of most neighbours, we have just finished our dinner of pasta and very excitingly (for me) I am now going to start reading Les Misérables: check back in a year for a post on finishing the first chapter! A relatively short day awaits us tomorrow as we are exceedingly keen to meet up with a man who lives about 60km down the road as he seems to be a prolific cyclist host, is keen to ride a bit with us, and could be a good source of advice.
First day of cycling: Istanbul to Şile