A Travellerspoint blog

Hard times

rain 10 °C
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

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Stay healthy! This is one of the many good wishes I received from the truly unbelievable 9C kids in Kulosaari.
So, here I am again. An overview over the last four days:
On Friday start in rain, which didn't stop the whole day. Just riding 300 metres up and down perhaps six or seven times to get from one headland to the next on our slow progression on the Black Sea coast.

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Just take a look at the GPS track: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25438

Flat roads close to zero, wearing muscles, joints and brake pads - in combination with road dirt brakes behave like sandpaper. Nightstay in an empty ship-building hall that was cold, but at least dry.
Landforms and weather little better on Saturday, but now I realize I caught a cold as a result of the two rain days! In return for the sufferings an even longer day (close to 100 km) on Sunday, this time at leat in sunshine (even though rather chilly) with an almost constant view of the sea from high up for the whole day. With aching knees, sore throat and running nose plus itchy eyes - from the hazelnut pollen that cause the same symptoms as do the birch pollen in Finland - I decided to take a day off from cycling today and instead take a seat in the van together with our two drivers Adam and Marcin.

Well then, honored readers of my blog (there are about fifty of you every day - ten times more than I had expected), it is time to share with you some of my second thoughts about BalticCycle 2008 Olympia-Beijing. Ever since Istanbul the ride has been an incredible rush from sleeping place to sleeping place with practically no information provided by the organizers about road conditions and height profile. No museum or other sight entered and even lunch taken only in a hurry - to be sure to get to the destination before sunset (or the fourth of the five daily Muezzin prayer calls). So I have recently become a little unsure whether a want to subject myself to such a harsh rythm for the next four and a half months or whether I should settle with a more modest personal goal (Kashgar or Baku), which would still make it the longest bike tour of my life.
For the time being I try to be optimistic, waiting for better spring weather, longer days, the beautiful vinyards of Georgia and mentally divide the remaining more than 10.000 km into more easily digestible portions. Goes like this: in six days from now I have done one third of what I would need in order to get by bicycle to China...

Posted by Lent 08:30 Archived in Turkey Comments (4)

Amasra

Over the Ahmetusta Pass 1030m

semi-overcast 12 °C
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

Today was an interesting one because of height profile. So perhaps you would like to watch the track of the last four days here (three days travelling, Safranbolu was rest day) first and look at the height profile over the last almost 300 kilometres:

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- The peak towards the end is the Ahmetusta Pass taking us up to 1030 m asl with snow patches and a rather alpine environment: steep, though non-glaciated valleys with subalpine coniferous vegetation and villages like 'birds' nests' glued to the steep slopes of the wide valleys reminding me of what I have seen in the Trentino in Northern Italy. In two of our printed maps the altitude is stated erroneously as 1580m, so we were actually prepared for a much longer and higher climb. Also notice the short but steep ascent before reaching the coastal beach resort (and of course historical town with a Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Genoese and Seldjuk past) of Amasra. So it seems once more that we are crossing geological structures perpendicularly rather than parallel.

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Somewhat unexpected ascent before reaching the coast at Amasra

- A few more words about track and profile: every now and then I forget to switch on my device, especially after I switched off for a good Pide or Köfte lunch and then I try to fix the track manually afterwards which adds of course to the imprecisions.
- Duration: This is an approximation of the time that the device has been receiving signals whether moving or not, so consequently the
- Average speed is not the same as speedometer would count (counting only when wheel is moving)
- The length measurement is based on straight lines connecting position points plotted in 15 second intervals. So the GPS distance is more realistic and precise the slower the movement is, i.e. during slow climbs. During fast rides the GPS recorded distance is less than speedometer distance.
- The most reliable data recorded by the GPS is the height profile (vertical up and down), because it effectively processes the elevation data from digital globes like Google Earth rather than the weather dependent barometric altimeter of my MC 1.0.

So 6623 height metres over three cycling days makes an average of more than 2000 metres of climb during one day (which gives you an idea what we're going through - or rather over...

Posted by Lent 10:52 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Pontus

semi-overcast 15 °C
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

Continuing eastwards: Akçakoca to Ereğli along the coast. Ereğli is a major centre of shipbuilding and has many other industries that make the Black Sea Coast the economically more developed part of Turkey. From there we ascended back into the mountains and because of poor maps and information on road conditions stayed for wild camping on the Babadağ Geçedi Pass (Geçedi = Pass) at 720m asl. A fairly chilly night at around freezing point in our tents! Map reading skills are the more important the poorer the map is. Climbing and downhill rides can be estimated from the water network if no other information is available. Yesterday (March 11) it was cycling through the magnificent and steep gorge of the Yenica Irmağı river that contains also the main railway line between İstanbul and Ankara.
Safranbolu is for Turkey something like the Rothenburg ob der Tauber for Germany or Rauma for Finland, a world heritage site anyway and experiencing all the benefits and drawbacks of mass tourism. The Japanese are particularly prominent here (I haven't found out the reason why).
Moving eastwards against the Earth's rotation even causes a kind of 'bike lag' because we sun set time just keeps staying the same even though spring equinox is approaching and day length expands now more rapidly than at any other time of the year. So we should be getting out of our sleeping bags a little bit earlier every day, but that is pretty contrary to a cyclists nature (the more mileage, the more contrary...)

I'm currently having problems with uploading photos and GPS tracks; so please refer to the travel map on this site for up-to-date location.

Posted by Lent 06:11 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

A flat coastal road

From Kaynarç to Akçakoca

semi-overcast 16 °C

As pointed out yesterday, you might get the impression from a small scale Atlas map of Turkey that the Black Sea coast is flat. It isn't and you can check height metres between Istanbul and Akçakoca from my track on http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=14645. Today though cycling was a little less hard through the Sakarya river delta in the Karasu/Kocaali area with a flat road for about 30 km. We truly haven't had many of those yet! Road conditions are overall quite satisfactory with only patches in disrepair. Tourist infrastructure along this part of the coast is also patchy but obviously developing with colonies of new holiday homes here and there hiding the view onto the sea.
In the more hilly areas large hazelnuts

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Traditional rural architecture: Two-storey square shaped houses with barn and stable on the ground floor and hip roof. The timber framework construction filled with tiles reminds of certain areas in Northern Germany.

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This is surely not the last image of a sedimentary rock outcrop on this blog.... Viewed from the old Genovese fortress in Akçakoca, called Diospolis by the ancient Greeks.

Posted by Lent 09:11 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Eastwards from Istanbul


View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.

To avoid cycling through busy urban and suburban areas of Istanbul, we took the ferry to the northernmost port on the Asian side of the Bosporus - and were welcomed by damp and foggy forests that reminded us of two things: That we had left the mediterranean climate and vegetation zone and that it is - astronomically - still winter! After a very long day with riding for several hours even in dark we finally got to the town of Şile where - on the following morning - we could enjoy sunny first view of the Black Sea.

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Today - Saturday and International Women's Day - we continued eastwards on a very hilly road with numerous ups and downs across (less often along) the many river valleys that drain into the Black Sea. Final destination after ca. 95 km of mileage the town of Kaynarç.

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A moist re-entry into Asia. Summergreen deciduous trees still bare.

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A rather typical encounter in Turkey: Habe 33 Jahre in Deutschland gearbeitet. Jetzt Rentner. (Notice that the guy with the helmet has scored only 25 years in Germany and not even a single one working.)

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Sunset before 1800 hrs. The picture proves that we are moving eastwards.

Posted by Lent 10:33 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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