Silivri, Turkey: For the second time I checked out of the Golden Yat Hotel, said my thanks, loaded my bike, and entered Tekirdag’s morning rush hour traffic trying to get to Silivri. This time I made it.
Today’s ride along the Sea of Marmar in the Thrace (European) part of Turkey was pleasant, but today’s cycling wasn’t about the journey. Today’s ride was all about the destination and positioning myself on the edge of Istanbul, which finally comes into focus through all the grey clouds. The end is in sight. Tomorrow I finish an expedition which spans 82 days, 16 countries, an unrelenting variety of challenges, and every possible human emotion. Tomorrow I bring it home.
In another incredible display of Turkish generosity and hospitality, two cyclists from Istanbul are giving me a helping hand to the finish line. After cycling on roads with wide shoulders for much of Turkey, 10 kilometers outside of Silivri, when the traffic picks up, the shoulder disappears. Now I understand why Istanbul instills fear in some cyclists.
John, an American in Istanbul, braved the cold and clouds and traffic to cycle today from Istanbul to join me in Silivri. Tomorrow John and I will be joined by a Turkish cyclist, Cetin, who will guide us on local roads into the heart of Istanbul, the only metropolis in the world situated on two continents.
It’s been much more of a fight to the finish line than I ever expected, but the Turkish people continue to shower me with warmth and welcome. Today I stopped in a gas station for a quick rest. The owner asked me where I come from and repeatedly said Nashville. He then got his son, who lives in Nashville but happens to be in Turkey, on the phone. After a quick chat the son asks me whether I need anything. Even as I send this blogpost, I am benefitting from the helping hand of a hotel which did not get any of my business. The wifi in my hotel does not work; no luck either at an internet cafe. So I went to the only other place I could think of with wireless in town to compose this blogpost.
Tomorrow my parents arrive in Istanbul from Hong Kong to meet me, while my son anxiously waits in Hong Kong for them to bring me home.
Day 80: Tekirdag — Silivri, Turkey
Distance: 72.42 kilometers
Ascent: 536 meters
Weather: What a difference a day makes!
Terrain: Gentle rolling hills
TransEuropa 2011 Expedition Summary:
Distance: 5,762.29 kilometers
Ascent: 40,936 meters
Countries: 16: Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey
Incidents: 6: flat tires on Days 45, 53 and 56; police reprimand on Day 2; two terrorizing right-on-my-heels dog chases on Day 71