Any hope of cycling the whole way to China without any petrol infused assistance was completely shattered with a 2100m climb and a toilet bowl breaking bout of gastro. It all started one morning with a leg shaking climb from sea level to 2100m in a 30km stretch from Trabzon, Turkey. Sublime scenery and misty mountain weather was the order of the day, and what a brilliant day it was.
Manon took to the mountain with gusto, and was all smiles by lunchtime as we woofed down kofte (Turkish meatballs that would make any Italian grandma cry with joy) at the only restaurant on the road. Luckily it turned out to be a fancy 5 star diner, who probably weren't stoked to see 2 sweaty cyclists. Ben, on the other hand, was starting to show signs of strain at this point. But no matter how hard any climb is, nothing beats that moment of pure joy when you reach the summit. Even better was the 30 minute ride down the other side, dropping 1000m as we flew through epic mountain vistas that would put any Turkish tourism campaign on the map.
Rolling into Torul that evening, a Turkish town of 8000 people, it only took 2 minutes for our first invite for chai to arrive. 30 minutes into the conversation and our new friend was searching the town for a place for us to stay. Luckily his step-son spoke impeccable English and we were whisked away for a warm meal and a solid sleep.
The next day was a planned rest day, and a hotel was in order. But of course nothing ever quite goes to plan while cycling in Turkey. 30 minutes and 3 hotels down in our destination, Gumushane Turkey, and it seemed everything was well above our budget. So we pedalled out of town looking for a spot of shade and patch of grass to spend the day napping. We found ourselves the perfect spot under some apple trees.
No matter how hidden you think you are in Turkey, it doesn't take long for someone to come and say Hello. With Manon cosily wrapped up in her cocoon, a man named Sakir walks past with the widest smile I've ever seen. Just 5 minutes into conversation this beautiful man offered us the keys to his 2 story house! Nestled by the river, set amongst fruit trees, and with its own outdoor fireplace this house was the stuff dreams are made of.
Sakir lived in the city, with this being his 2nd house, and his friendly mother, brother and uncle were just up the hill. Unfortunately it was that evening that I came down with a wicked bout of gastro. I won't go into details, but it wasn't fun. More importantly though, words can't describe the kindness of Sakir and his family. We were given the house for 3 days while I recovered, with soup and chai delivered to the door. A huge, huge thank you to them, and we hope that one day they'll come to stay with us.
A few days post recovery, almost 2 months into the trp, it was time to take a break from the bike and time for hitchhiking with bikes! How hard is it to hitch with bikes? Pretty bloody easy actually. 5 minutes by the side of the road and we're sitting in the front of a truck, chai in our hands, bikes in the back and big smiles on our faces. It was only 100km of non-peddal powered travel, and we might not cycle the whole way, but it was still a great adventure nonetheless.