The Adventure Begins
Well, the day before the “Great Big Adventure” has arrived and is now nearly over…the meetings have come and gone, the route for tomorrow written down, phone numbers listed, the bike storage room is a hive of activity and Phil the bike mechanic is run off his feet with last minute panicked rider questions and concerns about their bikes…the major concern is brakes at this stage as the Harem Hotel, where we are staying is on an incredible downhill slope to the ocean! Riders have been coming and going…buying last minute goodies and necessities, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of beautiful (I mean it, too) Istanbul and literally soaking up the heat! The mosques and the calls to prayer are an all too common sight and sound, as are the traffic and car horns which should make for an interesting and exciting convoy out of the city tomorrow morning, but as lucky as we all area..Shanny, our fearless leader, has planned a lovely 15km meander along the Bosphorous (for those that are raising eyebrows at this term…it is the waterfront!) before we make a few turns here and there on our way to our first campsite…a mere 130km away but…it is on The Black Sea so one cannot complain about the steep incline we will all have to take to discover our riding fitness. So while we shall be feeling the glorious rays of the Turkish sun and enjoying the “quad” burning paradise of a few Turkish hills – there shall be paradise at the end of it all in the form of some delightfully refreshing beach camping – the one and only time before we head into Beijing!
The majority of the riders are past TDA participants from either the Orient Express or Africa and are behaving so calmly (like seasoned veterans) but throughout the meeting this morning there were the murmurs of excitement and a glimmer of “lets get going” in their eyes (especially after the words “permanent bag” and “red box” were uttered) and after a few late night soirees, the staff are now starting to find it easier to pinpoint the naughty and cheeky riders amongst the group. For the riders new to the TDA lifestyle…a multitude of questions about bikes, red boxes, permanent bags and trucks…I’m sure there will be a few more. At this stag they are fit, healthy, happy and very clean!
The trucks are safely locked away in the car park having driven 12, 500km overland from Africa…the African Routes boys have some great stories to tell about that one having completed the journey in just under a month…
You can only agree at this stage…what with, trucks coming from Africa, riders and staff from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, US and Canada, visas and passports being sent all over the world, ferry’s booked for the Caspian Sea crossing, grocery shopping in Istanbul, shopping for medical supplies where everything is written in Turkish…that this can be aptly called nothing short of an “adventure” across countries famous for the Spice Route and Marco Polo…and now for 50 something riders…ready to give it a big go!