Saturday, August 24, 2013

Last full day of riding

I was figuring that since we were moving south from the mountains and along the Black Sea that the amount of feet climbed would be pretty low. I was wrong. Though the maximum elevation never exceeded ~1400 feet, the accumulated elevation gained was greater than 4650 feet. Though we had some very nice downhill descents.

Though we departed Vuze with a lot of commercial traffic on pretty rough surface, the courtesy shown by the drivers was not a one time event. Generally traffic passing us gave us warning beeps and room as they passed. The on coming traffic also acknowledged us by beeping and waving to us. A very nice biking experience.

After the town of Saray the traffic thinned and the road began is have protective trees on either side, that helped to protect us from the cross winds.  All day long we had the wind. Sometimes headwinds, sometimes crosswinds and even tail winds on some occasions.

We arrived on at the hotel, which is a very nice resort, after working our way through a lot of road construction. Turkey is creating a huge 6 line highway, 3 lanes in each direction, and we need to work our away amount the construction signs. Being Saturday, there was no construction.

Tonight is the last night of the tour with tomorrow being the last ride, about 51km then a ferry ride into Istanbul. The destination that seemed so far distant 7 weeks ago, will be under our wheels.  8 countries in 7 weeks, that's quite an adventure. I've learned from past bike rides, that it will some time to "process" the trip.

Well that's it for now, Happy Biking,


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Up over the border we go....

I guess borders are drawn between counties base on several different factors, but today we found that the border between Turkey and Bulgaria was drawn based on a mountain range. So we climbed at the beginning of the ride over a mountain to get to the border where we got a visa to enter Turkey (15 euros) and after having it stamped and inspected at the entrance gate, we were in.

Each country that is entered, I don't have a clue what to expect and try not to have any expectations. I want to experience the country for what it has to offer, not what I want it to offer.

Upon entering Turkey, we had a quick down hill followed by another climb. The roads were the best that we've seen in a very long time. Newly paved, wide shoulders and beautiful views.

The first town wasn't until about 40 km into the ride. It was called Kirklareli. We pulled into town and as it turned out, it was a pretty good sized town. A couple of kilometers into the town center and shops, bakeries and lots of traffic. Several shops were selling gold jewelry and I guess we'll see more of that as the trip progresses. The bakery was a treat. The first fresh pastries that we had in several weeks. We also looking forward to tasting "Turkish Delight" that everyone has been talking about.

With the first pastry stop out of the way, it was time to push on to lunch about 20 more kilometers (a bit over 12 miles). By this time, the wind was picking up and it wasn't in our favor. Sometimes a headwind, sometimes a cross wind, but never a tail wind. Our pace dropped off rapidly.

After lunch it was more of the same but with some uphills and downhills to add some variety to the day all the way to the town of Vize.

The most striking thing about Turkey so far is the people. We saw the most curious and friendly folks on the road today. Sometimes you will be riding and occasionally a drive will give you a quick beep of his horn to let you know that he's behind you and well be passing shortly. But most of the time drivers will step on the gas and go blasting pass you and not give you any room on the road at all!!

Today drivers behind us not only gave us some breathing room, but drivers of cars and trucks would often give us friendly toots and blink their lights and wave as they passed. All very nice. I hope that it continues.

We also had two drivers in particular go above and beyond the call of duty. At one point a dog started to bark and chase me (not the first time on this trip), and much to my surprise, a car behind me pulled his car off the road and on to the shoulder effectively putting a block between the dog and me. When he saw that I had peddled out of danger, he pulled back on to the road and gave me a toot as continued to drive down the road. Wow I have never had that experience before.

A second driver pulled off to the side of the road to ask if he could help when one our riders had a flat. Maybe the courtesies that we saw today won't be repeated in the future, but it sure was a very nice introduction to a country that I hope to enjoy visiting.

That all for today, Happy Biking,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cycling Explained

Last night in Bulgaria

The trip today was a short ride, just about 80 km bringing us just short of the Turkey border. Just 8 km from the start we turned on to a quite road that lasted until lunch at the 48 km point. The road was fairly neglected but for our bikes that was just fine. Take a look at the elevation plot by click on "view details" of the Garmin plot to view the ups and downs of the day. The accumulated climb for the day was over 4000 feet.

The border crossing into Turkey is only 7 km away and we'll be making it tomorrow morning. The border is heavily patrolled in this area of the county since it's the frontier with the European Union. It seems that lots of folks have been trying to cross illegally from Turkey to Bulgaria and therefor into the EU.

Some of our riders were stopped today by the border petrol today even though we were over 40 km from the Turkey border at that point.

That's about it for now.

Happy Biking,