Last night on the road ↑ all posts
The distance to Istanbul drops steadily with every minute on the bike - it’s now so close that I could make it today if I really went for it. Up at 6am with the sun and more long rolling hills to the coast. As I follow the ring road around Takirdag I see a small figure in the distance slowly making its way up the next long hill. Fifteen minutes later and I catch up with Nigel and his heavily loaded touring bike. He’s made it here from Plymouth after retiring and heading off to cycle round the world. I realise that he is the first cycle tourist I’ve met since maybe Rome and it’s great to chat with him as we cycled together for the next few hours.
He has taken a different approach to cycle touring: pack absolutely everything you can think of just in case it’s needed. He reckoned he had 25 kg of luggage spread over two front panniers, two rear panniers, and a huge bundle of stuff on top of the rear rack. He was pretty envious of my lightweight setup and had already decided to post home a significant amount of stuff on reaching Istanbul. To be fair his touring bike - bombproof and heavy - will cope much better than mine as he heads onwards to Iran, Pakistan, India.
For a minute I’m filled with a desire to follow his plans and carry on pedalling beyond Turkey, but this feeling passes fairly quickly. This trip has been great but approaching 100 days on the road and I definitely am happy to be stopping. We say goodbye at a Shell petrol station - the best according to Nigel as they sell the best fruit juice.
So close to Istanbul I’m torn between hammering out the last 60 kms or stopping just outside the city and facing the traffic in the morning. My decision is made for me when I get the final puncture of the trip near Silivri and my enthusiasm for cycling on into Istanbul rush hour disappears.