A Leisurely Cycle to Istanbul
It seemed a good idea at the time! We have always enjoyed cycle touring and retirement has allowed us to make one or two longer trips. It was at the start of one of these (from Trieste in North-East Italy down to Sicily) that we met Ivan, a cycle tourer from the Isle of Man, on his way home from Istanbul. We have always wanted to visit Istanbul – so why not cycle there?
Other things took over for a while but now – 3 years later – we are about to set out. Our initial route planning was quite basic: take an atlas of Europe and draw a straight line from Calais to Istanbul, then two more lines 50mls either side of this. We want to do plenty of sightseeing but can’t afford to ‘zigzag’ too much. We have refined the route somewhat as we have done more research and bought better maps, but basically that original line still stands.
We shall cross northern France, Belgium and Luxembourg, travel through southern Germany, Austria and Hungary, then follow the Danube through Croatia, Serbia and Romania to the Bulgarian border. A diagonal route through Bulgaria, a few days in Turkey and there we are – we hope! We find a leisurely pace suits us best: an average of 40 miles a day, plus one ‘day off’ a week, so approximately 250 miles a week. If Anne Mustoe (as described in her book A Bike Ride ) can go round the world on this basis, we ought to be able to manage it to Istanbul. We have allowed three months for the journey and have booked accommodation in Istanbul – and a flight home. Unlike Ivan, we are not planning a return trip by bike!
Much of our gear is tried and tested. We shall carry a tent, sleeping and cooking gear and plan to camp most of the time during the first half of the trip. Later we expect to see fewer campsites and will look for accommodation, keeping the tent as emergency back up. We have only a limited space for clothes, so everything has to be light, yet robust, and wash and dry well. Obviously, Rohan comes into its own here. On a recent trip to the Rohan Stratford Shop we were impressed by the Bumper Liner padded cycle inserts and each bought one. We shall be giving them a thorough trial on this holiday, hoping they will provide extra padding and be great to wash out in the evening.
We hope we’ve thought of everything: arrangements for the house while we’re away, inoculations (including rabies given dogs’ liking for chasing bikes!) and a good service for the bikes.
There’s nothing like a ‘shakedown’ to find out if everything is ready, so we arranged a short local trip with friends. It’s a while since we camped with our small tent, so a few things needed ‘tweaking’ but now we’re ready for the off…
Jill and Peter Seamen