January 30

Great sleep last night and woke up this morning early and raring to get into Istanbul.  My friend Vlad had set us up with a friend to stay with, Onur, who lived in Istanbul, and was willing to host us for the weekend.  We were itching to get away, but fate unfortunately had other plans. Ryan had got a puncture the night before, but we were just about to make camp so he decided to wait until morning to sort it out.  Come morning, I help him to take his rear wheel off and show him how to re-attach it after, then head to the nearby petrol station to get out of the wind and get some breakfast.  Twenty minutes go by, and Ryan hasn’t appeared, so I start to get concerned.  After another ten, he shows up and it’s not going right.  He’s changed the inner, but it’s not fitting properly.  It becomes clear that he, unfortunately, has brought the wrong inner tubes.  I try to patch the first punctured tyre, but after I patch the first three holes then find another two it becomes apparent this inner is not going inside a bike.  Ryan is taking a taxi to Istanbul. 

By the time the taxi is on it’s way, it’s past 10am, so I’m starting to get a little bit worried about time.  It’s only 70k or so, but normally by now we’d have an hour or two under our belt, so I hightail it to Silivri as fast as I can.  In Silivri, I get lost trying to find roads that run alongside the sea, then decide it’s easier just to track the D100.  I find a great road that ran alongside the motorway all the way into Beylikduzu, where I arrive about 12pm.  A tiny bakery on the side of the street yields a freshly baked loaf of bread (literally five seconds out of the oven) and I sit on the side of the road, sweaty and mucky and eat the entire thing with the rest of the Nutella.  It was so warm, the Nutella started to melt into the bread – I can’t  adequately describe how delicious and soft and warm it was.

Once in Beylikduzu, I thought it would be nice to run along the coast until i got to the next bridge – into Istanbul proper – and it was lovely.  The waves were playful, there was an actual bike path, friendly dogs and the sun was out.  One of the nicest 15 minutes of cycling I’ve had all trip.  However, what i realised when the bike path ran out was that I was now stuck in the middle of nowhere, nowhere near a road and with loads of hills surrounding me.  Commence slog.  It took me at least an hour, and a lot of sweat, to get me back to a main road again.  The areas I was going through were not what I expected at all.  Here I was, on the first peninsula out from Istanbul to the West, and it felt like the back and beyond of rural Turkey.  There was someone minding their sheep, and fields laying fallow.  All twenty km from the biggest city for hundreds of miles in any direction.  Very weird. 

By the time I managed to cross the bridge into Istanbul proper, time was dragging on, so I decided to jump on the d100 and run straight into town.  People complain about it but i had a great time.  It was a ton of fun cycling along it, with cars coming out of nowhere.  You really need to be on your toes all the time.  After a while, I hit traffic so I could just coast along between the pavement and the cars, slipping in front of people.  After I crossed into the old town, I cycled over to where I was to meet Onur and had some Cey while I waited.  Got the long awaited shower, then Onur took me for dinner to an awesome Arabic kebab house, muchos delicious.  Went for a beer after with some of his friends, and was quickly confused for his cousin – Onur has blond hair and blue eyes, and it seems like we look alike! 

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