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  • Jamie Shannon

Continuing East - Turkey leaving me astounded

I won’t lie. The last few days have been some of the toughest Iv'e encountered thus far and that includes cycling through central Spain in 40 + degrees and cycling over the Alps.

You see it’s not that I’m cycling in extreme temperatures nor over mountainous. It’s the simple fact that, when you combine just a little of the two and then continue this over several days, it's actually much more physically and mentally demanding.

Here, the same conditions seem endless. The heart crushingly steep hills never seem to end. Hour after hour and day after day they appear providing a natural barrier between myself and a certain mystical town some way off on the horizon.

I wake up in the morning feeling a little fresher although my knees are still a little stiff, and endeavour to set out early to beat the sun and heat. For this effort, I'm again drenched in sweat by eight am.

As I near the top of a climb, I want to wipe the acidic sweat dripping into my eyes and to give my head a fresh wipe too but I think, “what’s the point? - In a couple of minutes time, the same thing is going to happen”, Instead, I just leave it, accepting the fact that I'm never going to be dry and comfortable. I make peace with it.

It feels more and more like Turkey will be one of my favourite countries I travel through on this long distance round the world cycling trip

From Amasra to Sinop, it’s 300 km’s of twisting coastal road. For almost the entire length, you are hemmed in by the black sea on one side and the mountains on the other which sometimes drop right off into the sea.

The first day was by far the hardest day of the trip thus far. There would be a fishing village right at the bottom of a steep descent which would take me all of a few minutes to reach but would ultimately take me an hour of gut churning and thigh straining incremental strokes of the pedals to cycle out of. After cycling back out, and upon finally rounding the top, the next village comes into view 300 metres down and so the days proceeded.

I now find myself four days later a little past the town of Inebolu and, I know now that the worst of it is over. It's another 120 km’s to Sinop, which, although undulating, is nothing like as difficult as the last three day’s.

I’ve had many interesting encounters with people along the way though and the scenery is, well it’s absolutely gorgeous and yet there is one thing that really cannot be excused and that’s the sheer amount or rubbish by the roadside. It’s everywhere you look; from the smallest village and beach to the largest town. It’s frustrating really when you see such a beautiful spot but marred by the litter present. I see car’s parked up and families pick-nicking by the side of the road – their bottles of water, plastic wrappers and bags strewn around them and think, “how much of that will you leave there”? It’s inexcusable in my view.

Overall though, things are good and I’m feeling rather content with myself.

Opening my eyes for the first time in the morning at half five and realising it’s the next day, is such a joy to behold. It’s really a feeling of absolute contentment. The joy of not knowing what I’ll be seeing or whom I’ll be meeting is something that puts a smile on my face. And that’s even before I’ve drank that lovely cup of coffee.

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