And away they go!
Well, well, well…welcome to the Silk Route and the hills of Turkey…as beautiful as they are; the riders will agree that they are big, steep and come more often than not! However, a fine day greeted the inaugural Silk Route riders this morning as they journeyed out of Istanbul and on route towards Beijing. The convoy that departed the Harem Hotel around 6.30am went smoothly and although the traffic was somewhat crazy at times (Istanbul is a city of 12 million) along with narrow roads, some road works, crazy drivers and about 40 riders…the 15km to the outskirts went safe and well. Phew!
From there…the word rolling hills was not what came to mind but rather hills that make you remember that you have got legs and they do hurt…not only were the hills there but they continued right up until the turn off into the campsite…delightful beach side camping ground on the Black Sea. Even though we started early, the day was a long and tough one and the word “saddle sores” was thrown around during the dinner conversation, even though Miles had made the most of the fresh produce at a large market in the city this morning (tasty potato salad, bbq chicken, squash and more)…the riders seemed all too consumed by hills and saddle sores and the length of the day…130km on paper looks ok but in reality…our last riders “cruise on” into camp at 8.30pm.
But hills and saddle sores aside…Turkey and the Turkish people are proving to be a gem…the country side is so scenic and the people so helpful, friendly and with a wicked sense of humour even though they are not to sure what we are doing. So, at 10pm on night 1 all is quiet with the TDA riders (well, but it is Saturday and there is a crowd camping around us) – most have hit their tents (actually a few spent a fair bit of time learning how to set them up in the wind this afternoon) for some well earned rest and to the sweetest dreams of another day of 130kms, “rolling hills” and a hotel ground as a campsite…the only downer in the day…the Silk Route Finish Line flag was taken off the road today.
Wish us all the best!