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Ready for the Steppe- Farewell Turkey

Link to interactive route map for Turkey here.

It is with mixed feelings that I've just thrown my worldly possessions into a disposable bag for my flight to Kazakhstan. I leave early tomorrow morning having seen a lot of this currently rather troubled country. I've cycled a greater distance here in Turkey than I covered on the UK's 'End2End' - Lands End to John O'Groats. More than crossing Uzbekistan from the west to the Ferghana. They are both tough rides too but whilst in some respects cycling in Turkey is a tourers dream:- generally good roads, fairly considerate drivers, fewer savage dogs, wonderful vistas; it's also a real challenge. I don't mean struggling to find beer this time, but there are some serious climbs (and I've managed a few in my time) , as always though eventually rewarded by long descents. But I've also experienced everything that mother nature can conjure up weather wise. Not least the consistent 35c and higher down here on the south west coast.

However, I know that I am now as prepared as one can be for a 600km slog through the Kazakh & Uzbek desert. If all goes to plan I will arrive in Nukus on August 7th ready for the flight back to Tashkent on the last day of our summer break. Talk about making the most out of the summer- really pleased with what I managed. Here's to many more- but never again alone I hope. Turkey can be a testing place to be on your own. I didn't see a tourist in weeks until I reached Goreme. The steamy plains west of there, peppered with whirling dervishes or dust devils, could have easily played on my mind and have sent me heading to the nearest airport. The sleepless night trapped in my awful hotel room following the automated advice from the UK foreign office as the cacophony of noises that was the attempted coup rang out loud. The nerves when getting on my bike the next day- when only 11 days later did anyone from the foreign office bother to call me back.

I will remember those dramatic 24 hours for the rest of my life. I will also remember the relief I felt when I sensed that most of the population seemed happier and even more hospitable than before.

I'm not sure that I'd come back here in a hurry though. I am not sure how this will all end, but I fear that it might not be pretty. Anyway, back to the bike and the master plan again tomorrow. As ever before a new tour stage, I have that wonderful excited feeling just like I had when I got my first bike for Christmas. This feeling is worth the dead legs, sore bits and burnt bald head.

Link to interactive route map for Turkey here.

#turkey #kazakhstan #uzbekistan #bicycletouring #biketour

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