Arrival in Istanbul. Meeting with other team members in airport. I arrive first, about 1 p.m. Alex and Nathan next from Brussels at 4 p.m. One essential piece of baggage missing. Oleg last at 6:30 p.m. carrying bike boxes and panniers through the streets of Istanbul at dusk, in a light rain, while the call to prayer blares.
A sheep sacrifice for the Muslim Bairam.
Breakfast at the Egyptian bazzar. Ripped off on the price. Quoted 200,000 lire each, receive bill for 1.8 million. With the help of Gus, from Aman, Jordan, we pay 1 million and leave. Brandt arrives. “I’ve slept 3 hours in the past two days.” Seeing the sights, Blue Mosque, St Sophia, underground cistern, taking the ferry “to Asia”. Meeting Stacy and Mary and traveling to the outskirts to view the Bayram “killing fields” Following around the underwear salesman in the green suit. Selling excess equipment at the Egyptian Bazzar. “40,000? I’ll take no more than 20,000. That’s firm.”
In front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the beginning of our journey.
the long route to the Black Sea. through many small villages, each with imposing minaret reaching towards Allah. Tea houses “on every comer” and tea in shot glasses, two cubes of sugar. Cook pasta on BS coast. Travel 10 km more to grassy campsite Brandt: “I used to have gamma globulin shots every week ‘cause I get sick so much Alex: “You know a campsite is shitty when you can’t find a place to piss.” Oleg: “Thees is Black Sea, Ukrainian territory.”
The Black Sea coast. Alex quoted as saying, "You won't find more difficult biking anywhere in the world." Just wait
Quality time in Shile. The three of us - me, Oleg, and Brandt were first-class sleepers, exhausted most of the time from trying to keep up with Doug and Alex. Note the staple of our existence, loaves of bread, which we would chow on all day long while riding.
Up early to dew soaked sleeping bags. Brandt looks like hell. Alex and I make “pancakes” with flour, water and eggs with a raspberry syrup. Oleg watches while we cook and pull down camp, then we wait 1/2 hour for him to load his bike. He makes up for his delay by taking off like a bat out of hell up the first hill. At 30 km he asks where we would be camping for the night. Cycle 1 hour, wait 1/2 hour for Oleg. We lessen his load. Oleg: “I did not think we were allowed to drink this water from the pumping. Alex, today we camp near river. Doug: “AIex, today we completed 1% of the trip distance.” Camp behind grassy knoll. Bean (bums) stew for dinner
Amerasu, the Jewel of the Black Sea Coast.
Passing through Inebolu. The two English phrases known by all Turkish schoolkids: 'Hello,' and 'what's your name?'
Lunch in dusty village. Man speaking German asks me is we want some “shit”. no thanks. “You like women” Doug: (to man standing near a bus stop) “Excuse me, do you know where I can find a boat to Yalta?” Children: “Where are you from? “Where are you going?” Alex: “Mongolia!” Camped near river under a delapitated gazebo. Oleg: “this place remind me of Natasha.”
Camped on roadside pullout. Oleg miserable after sleeping near animal corpse
Start day with long, steady climb followed by cold descent. Have “cay” (tea) with Alex at bottom of hill. Nathan bonks near end of day. Farming road for campsite after passing cow corpse in ditch. Oleg helps me prepare dinner then disappears for a bath. I’m about to call him back when I realize I’m faster without him. My knees are on fire. Taking 5-7 Advil’s each day. Today I consider whether I’ll be able to finish if knees do not strengthen
Very steep hills today, especially leaving Amarasu lunch stop. Nap in Memmoy, outside store. Oleg: “this store is like a Russian store.” Rubber boots and Ruffles. Camp in city park. I get up and barf at night. Alex: “Doug, make sure you clean the acid from your mouth after throwing up.”
I was sick as a dog this night. We woke up when a farmer herded his cows through here
I barf after I km outside storefront. Owner sprays cologne in my face. Lying on picnic table waiting for Oleg and Brandt. Bus stops and woman chucks garbage over cliff. Brandt looks like death and takes a ride. Oleg too. Nathan bonks and takes ride to village. Stays in Pancion. I’m shifting all night camped on riverside with Alex. Crackers and toilet water soup for dinner.
Meet Brandt and Oleg in Ineboulu, where Nathan announces he, too will bus to Sinop. Bayram parade in Ineboulu. After town I sleep at the junkyard while Alex makes new stove tangs with curator of yard. Stay at “penal colony” hotel in town, 75,000 lire. Have lamb sandwiches with shifty “teacher” from “next town down” here “on business” with his motorcycle.
Doug was sick, so this junkyard owner rolled him up in dog blankets while he and Alex made new tines for our stoves out of bicycle spokes.
And then there were two. Cruising by 6:30 a.m. realization of our efficiency in fewer numbers. 90 km by 12:30 and no sign of the others. 5 km from Sinop they pull us over. Ride to docks and find Mitch, the Ukranian destroyer, setting sail for Yalta in 4 days. Time to recoup and gorge ourselves.
Sinop, our exit port from Turkey. There's our boat Mitch, former Russian sub tracker converted to orange hauler on the 'Missles to Cucumbers' program.
Staying at Sami Gule’s “Pales Gule” for 125,000 lire/night. Khan, 18 year old English student becomes our guide. Friend of his can’t wait to join army to “kick some Kurdish ass”. We get a tour of the local museum during “museum week” from Khan’s English teacher. Alex meets Kenan, the Turk with the Georgian accent, while shopping for a new bike seat for Oleg. Kenan teaches Nathan about “the mind of Allah” while we drink cay in the Kasim Hotel lounge listening to “Cim” (grass) wail her Turk strains. Multiple trips to restaurant for pudding.