To anyone still following this blog:
I now work for TDA Global Cycling.
The Silk Route 2014 is officially over! We made it to Istanbul after an amazing few days of riding, through beautiful forests, steep hills, and a little bit of rain. We biked along the shore of the Black Sea before cutting inland and riding down the Bosphorus strait into Istanbul.
Here is my actual GPS recorded ride (with a few blank spots where I was sick or tired and riding in the truck):
10,707.25 km in 98 days of riding
68,414 m total elevation gained / 7.73 Everests!
467 hours on the bike
I am lying in bed in Safranbolu, enjoying the last rest day of the trip. Only four days of riding left!
This final section of the Silk Route is aptly named the Hills of Anatolia. Last week there were hills, now there are HILLS.
We just finished a very tough seven days of riding between rest days. The weather has been great – cool at night, and not getting too hot during the day.
We now only have seven days of riding left. It was pretty exciting when we saw the first road sign for Istanbul!
The landscapes we’ve been riding through have been pretty amazing. As usual I’ll just show you lots of photos instead of trying to describe them.
For a couple of days we rode through an area with lots of dams being built. Some of the dams are quite big. One town we stayed in, Yusufeli, will be underwater in a few years, and around 60,000 people will be displaced.
Over the last several days we biked from Iran into Turkey. We are now just finishing our rest day in the city of Kars. The riding has been pretty tough, with lots of hills. But the weather has been nice – not the brutal heat that we have had to deal with for the last long while. The scenery is pretty amazing – including views of Mt Ararat, the claimed final resting place of Noah’s Ark.
Only twelve days of riding to go!
On our rest day in Tabriz, I went to the bazaar. The huge market is in a building with elaborate tiled ceilings. You can buy pretty much anything there, including some pretty strange carpets. The Iranians apparently really like sparkly shoes and gold jewellery.
At night, I took a cable car to the top of a nearby mountain overlooking the city. We watched the sunset from the top.
In the taxi on the way back to the hotel, we were racing along the highway with a wedding party. In Iran, that means lots of people hanging out of car windows.
On the way into town, we saw an overpass with beautiful mosaics on it.
In Tehran, we went to the Azari Traditional Teahouse. The place was pretty full, so we sat on the stage behind the band. They served us tea and a traditional Iranian meal.
In the smaller town of Zanjan, we went to an amusement park. Most of the rides were closed after a safety inspection, but we got to use the giant slide and the pedal boats.
Yesterday, after our ride, a local person arranged for us to have a tour of an old castle on top of a mountain.
We made it to Tehran! We had a beautiful ride through some big hills. I found a place to carry an extra bottle on my bike. We camped next to a river and had another talent show. We took a bus for the last 50km into the city, to avoid riding in the crazy traffic. I went to the Tehran bazaar today, which is huge and packed with people.
We have been in Iran for three days, and it’s great. If you have ever heard anything about Iran, it probably included the fact that the people here are very friendly. Really friendly. Half the time when you try to take a taxi, a car will stop and drive you there for free. A TV crew came to our campsite last night and interviewed some of the riders.
It has also been great to have a change of scenery from the desert of Turkmenistan. The two countries share a natural border of some large hills / small mountains, which have been great to ride through.
Here are a few photos from Turkmenistan. It is a very strange country – essentially a dictatorship under the president. The government spends there massive oil and gas revenues on the tons of white marble buildings in Ashgabhat.
Most buildings are covered with hundreds of satellite dishes.
One night, we said at a horse racing track. Like most big buildings in Turkmenistan, it had a giant picture of the president on it.