Monday, July 21, 2008

Yahoo! We made it!

Day 50 Takayadin to Istanbul

The ride today was only 51 kms from camp. Breakfast wasn’t until 7:00 am however that didn’t stop the early risers from getting up at 4:45 and starting with the zippers and walking around making sure that every one was at least awake. I lay in bed until 6:45 before crawling out. Everyone has squeezed themselves into the too small Orient Express jerseys and walking around as proud as anything. Saying we should have had these 7 weeks ago to have more team days. I agree it would have been great.

We rode about 25 kms south towards Istanbul before turning almost due East and the closer we got to the Bosporus the steeper the hills got. We passed though a couple of small towns and in this one little town made this left turn up this road which was so steep I didn’t think I was going to be able to climb it. However in the very lowest gear I made it up. At the top was a pretty little town square where several riders had stopped for tea.

After a relaxing tea we were on the road again with only 15 kms to go. We rode under a roman aqueduct, down a lane lined with eucalyptus trees, down country lanes, and past several beautiful parks. It was really hard to believe we were at Istanbul one of the world’s largest cities. Then we came out of this forested lane and there was the Bosporus. We were standing on the very edge of Europe. Across the Bosporus was Asia.
We had done it! We had ridden our bicycles across a continent.

Just think about that statement for a second. What an accomplishment to ride one’s bike across an entire continent. There are millions of bicyles in the world. How many get ridden 10 kms? How many 100 kms? How many 1000 kms? My bike has crossed 2 continents! Just 5 more continents to go. Ok! Sorry I got carried away.

So here we are standing on the banks of the Bosporus. It is beautiful! Sunny and warm. We are laughing and congratulating each other. Clapping each other on the back and taking pictures. People must have thought we had gone nuts. Of course we are all dressed alike with the same jersey and black riding shorts.

Our Turkish guide had arranged for a ferry to take us down the Bosporus to our hotel. So we had a quick snack on the pier and set sail. Out came the beers and the celebration was in full swing. What a marvellous way to get to the hotel. No crazy ride through insane traffic in a mad house group convoy. Every one is so happy and we are dancing around taking pictures, and joking. The ferry let us of two blocks from the hotel and we walked up to the hotel.

Bike boxes were here and after check in everyone set to breaking there bike down and stuffing their bike into their box. Later we all took taxis to this fancy restaurant for a celebration which Tour d’Afrique was hosting. It was a great meal which culminated with a slide show, which Theresa one of the tour staff had put together of the photos we had taken. It must have been twenty minutes and had hundreds of photos in it. I knew she was putting a lot of effort into it as every waking moment she was pounding a way at the keyboard organizing photos which the riders were downloading into her computer. Theresa, you are truly amazing. The taxi ride to and from the restaurant rivalled any Disneyland thrill ride. The roads are so twisty and hilly and the taxis race along them at break neck speed.

Well, I could go on and on but it is time to thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.

Stay tuned for further Istanbul adventures as I am here for a couple of days


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