Turn Left at Albania

Hong Kong:   This time next week I will be back in Europe, back in the saddle and back on the road again.  I have mapped out what promises to be a thrilling route from the heart of the Alps in Innsbruck, Austria to the very fringe of the European continent in Istanbul, Turkey.

My planned route traverses nine countries and numerous ethnic, political, religious, cultural, and economic boundaries.  The route can broadly be described as travelling southeast from Austria, then turning left at Albania.  This course hugs the Adriatic coast, crosses mountains, goes around lakes, and straight through a complex region that was at war with itself not that long ago.  This 3,200-kilometer journey promises to be fascinating, challenging, full of adventure, and hard.

I plan to do it all in six weeks via Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

Here’s the plan to get to Istanbul by mid-October.  In creating this plan, I calculate distances on secondary roads using google maps. then add a 20% buffer to allow for detours and wrong turns.  To my surprise there is no online mapping information for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Stage Google KM +20% margin Cume KM Total Cume
Days Days
1 Innsbruck – Koper, Slovenia 489 587 587 8 8
2 Koper – Split, Croatia 426 511 1098 7 15
3 Split – Mostar, Bosnia (guesstimate) 200 240 1338 4 19
4 Mostar – Kotor, Montenegro (guesstimate) 300 360 1698 5 24
5 Kotor – Tirana, Albania 209 251 1949 3 27
6 Tirana – Thessaloniki, Greece 410 492 2441 6 33
7 Thessaloniki – Istanbul 667 800 3241 8 41

Last night in Hong Kong we had an official  “T Club” dinner.   This is no tea party and not to be confused with that American movement.  The T stands for transcontinental, and with fellow Hong Kongers Rob Lilwall and Humphrey Wilson, we mused about getting across continents on two wheels.   Rob spent three years cycling home from Siberia the long way, and later produced a book and TV show about the experience.   Humphrey cycled from London to Hong Kong in less than a year and has amazing stories to share; I hope he’ll pen a book sometime soon.  The route I am taking from Innsbruck to Istanbul is largely inspired by Humphrey’s navigation of the region in 2009.

It was a blast hanging out with other guys who also like to ride bikes ultra long distances, and last night’s T Club meeting boosted my excitement levels about this second leg of my expedition.  The fun begins anew on August 30.

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About Todd

Around-the-world cycling, one continent at a time
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