WHAT A WAY TO START!
Napoleon said that â€˜if the world was one country, Istanbul would be its capital.â€™ This city still never fails to impress, and gathered on the banks of the Bosphorus this morning at 7am there was a massive feeling of excitement and anticipation.
Some riders (6) had been here since Sunday, having arrived on the Orient Express 2008 tour, and spent the week seeing the sights. The majority arrived with the new crew on Thursday but others cut it a bit finer â€“ 1st prize to Knut who arrived with less than 12 hours to build his bike, pack his bags, sleep and roll down to the start.
The weather is perfect, clear but not too hot (top of 32 degrees), and as the 16 riders and support staff gathered on the concourse the sun was streaming down, bouncing off Sultanahmetâ€™s city walls and radiating across the Golden Horn.
Theresa gathered us all together for some team â€˜glamourâ€™ shots and the old hands from OE 08 let the new guys know what they should expect ahead on the road. â€˜Donâ€™t worry, there are no hills in Turkeyâ€™ seemed to be the general consensus. We should be so lucky! â€“ 6 hours later as Max and James rode in on the last 2 bikes, they were sure they had found more than their fair share â€“ it also seemed they had taken in enough detours to boost this (official) 95 km stage into 3 figures. Fastest was Al (3.14 hours) – is this man a machine?!
Camping by the coastal resort of Sile is a real treat â€“ especially as we can walk to the beach and soak our weary limbs. The camp site is great and the beer tastes sweet. New riders are starting to get to grips with the tourâ€™s little idiosyncrasies: The Lame Duck Award is proving particularly popular and Graham took great delight in bestowing it on Fred for buying two country maps of Turkey without realizing they were in fact one map printed on the reverse of each other!
Thatâ€™s it for today, 109 days to go â€“ canâ€™t wait!
Puncture count: 2 (one before we had even started!)