OE Day 39 Durusu to Istanbul 61km

Today’s ride in some ways was the toughest.  A short 40 miles sounded just the job. There was a set end time though to get a boat and no early breakfast. So us back markers had a frisson of pressure. Happily amplified by the absolutely gratuitous challenge of some steep (off and push) gravel sections. Fewer photos today!

Towns getting bigger and busier: there seems a code to navigate the traffic. Mine feels like to shut my eyes and go at times. Not too many toots of the horns so perhaps all ok. To be fair even on the busy sections drivers were good: usually a gentle beep to say we’re here and coming through in time for us to move over that little bit to show willing. Give n take works.

A lovely last hill or two (not sarcasm) through a wooded park before descending to the Black Sea and the end point. Lots of film crews with serious kit: alas I don’t think we were the objects they were looking for.

The final part of the day was a boat trip. Lunch and a dip at sea, before berthing outside the hotel. For various reasons I slept through most of this party.

Tomorrow bike packing (professional help makes it look so easy) and the start of a few days unwinding in this city of 15 million people.

PS bought my first eSim card as BT roaming doesn’t work here. Works a treat.

OE Day 38 Vize to Durusu 114km

A good days ride. Good roads with considerate drivers in the main. Headwind to keep it interesting. A few hills to keep the heart beat up.

Leaving Vize, there wasn’t much debris from the previous night’s concert and fare. Passed through a few small towns. The common sight was men sitting chatting in cafes. A good ziggy was the migrating storks.

Shepherds of sheep and cattle. Amazing what a friendly wave does.

Bottled water send seems the norm. A few roadside streams marked as potable which have people queueing to fill containers.

The final hill was psychological. You can see it in front of you and know the 8-10percent that’s coming. We made it! Penultimate day complete.

OE Vize

Photo app having a rest day so will follow later. I think Vize should be twinned with Neath. Lots in common, including Turkish hairdressers.

The Romans were here, leaving a relatively recently discovered amphitheatre. And castle ruins. All like Neath. A very kind local lady in broken German led us to and through the taped off entrance to the former.

A working town. You can buy any sort of building material or old tyres just 30m from the hotel. Most coffee send seems to be Nescafe. People are curious about the strangers walking around, and helpful.

The Call to Prayer at 5:30am will be needed tomorrow. Fairly early start for a longish penultimate day.

OE Day 37 Malko Târnovo to Vize 86km

Entering country number 8: Turkey. Which was relatively easy once the passport control morning shift showed up. Which meant a long queue had built up. We cycled to the front. And being well trained queued politely until others pushed in. Not stopping to think we’d jumped a queue by cycling to the front off course, we huffed and used the bikes to guard our position.

The route was lumpy today. First 10k went up 360m. Good roads on Turkish side. So we soon left that to go on quieter ones. Soft gravel up and down steep hills meant it was a little “grippy” in places. I think we’re the only ones with mudguards. The others asked “how did you keep your bike clean”?

This part of Turkey in West Marmara Region, Türkiye reminded me of Wales. Misty then damp, always green. Sheep 🐑. Lunch in an oak forest.

Mosques now of course. The Call to Prayer can make you jump when you’re not expecting it. In most of the villages it’s men sitting outside cafes/small beers. All friendly. It’s strange, even though we’re back to “normal” script vs Cyrillic, it feels more difficult to grasp what’s what.

Wood fuel dominates, with sonic solar water heaters appearing. Sunflowers 🌻 off course. And good old multinationals: as we entered Vize, where we stay tomorrow, a coke and Toblerone icecream was very welcome.

Coffee: strange for a shop to sell Nescafe Americano cold in a can. Good though. Tonight’s Turkish coffee ☕️ will be enough caffeine for days. Food was in a little cafe: point and nod. Enjoyed, especially the chicken soup.

Tomorrow a rest day.