Taller than a man and in places electrified, we cycled alongside it for several days as it weaved its way across the barren landscape, sneaking a stone across when we thought it most safe! Thats when it really hit home firstly how far we were from Switzerland, and actually how far we had cycled! When we finally reached the point at which we would cross into China we got to experience the full force of a border security operation.
We had our passports checked eight times at eight different booths, had our bags searched three times, our bodies were scanned, and our phones inspected, with the Chinese officers installing apps to do not-sure-what. We had to empty fuel from the cooking stove and stash our knives under our bike seats to prevent confiscation. I have never seen so much barbed wire, so many CCTV cameras, armed guards everywhere, even dogs. It reminded me of the border between North and South Korea. Pedestrians and cyclists were not allowed to leave the border area on foot or by bike, instead we were put in a compulsory taxi to the end of the border zone and another passport and bag check a full km away from the fence line.
With four more border crossings to go by bike I know I will continue to enjoy observing the subtle changes that you see when going from one country to another at a snails pace. It will be strange to have the last passport control of the Long Way Home journey being the arrival into Auckland airport via the strange time-warp that is airline travel.
At least I wont have to explain to the immigration officer where New Zealand is. It was a month of amazing hospitality, countless kebabs, and great riding conditions. These are the nine things that stuck out most to us.gus17.dev3.develag.com/map1.php
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White cars are fashionable: We had cycled through a third of Turkey when we suddenly realised that we were only seeing white cars on the road! Drink Chai tea or miss out on sweet interactions with locals: Neither of us were big tea drinkers before Turkey but that changed very quickly when we realised it was easier to find a pot of chai than cold water. We were offered chai tea in Turkish homes, outside mosques, on the side of the road and in restaurants at the end of a meal.
We noticed drinking habits changed as we moved east - with Turks placing a cube of sugar between their teeth and drinking their tea through it or adding lemon to their tea glasses. Turks love Ataturk: We saw so many pictures and statutes of the popular Turkish leader everywhere. Ataturk almost single-handedly created modern-day Turkey - he changed the alphabet from Arabic script to Roman letters, separated religion and state by removing Islam as the state religion and upholding civil law over Islamic law , and adopted the Western calendar amongst other things.
Ramadan can be enjoyed by foreigners too: For the month of June, many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. We took part in many Iftar - our favourite was in a Ramadan tent in a small village with people. We took our canteen style trays up and it filled with meat, bread, and rice and tucked in with everyone else. So many I love yous! Many Turkish people believe that an unexpected guest has been sent by "greater powers" and they have a duty to serve a stranger.
We met many lovely Kurds on our travels. They explained that Kurdish people inhabit land spanning four different countries — southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northern Syria and northwestern Iran - making them the worlds largest nation without a state. It's also illegal to teach the Kurdish language in schools in Turkey. Ballooning in Cappadoccia is truly a once in a lifetime experience: 26 hot air balloon companies currently operate in Cappadoccia with a combined fleet of balloons.
More than 25, rides take place every year. We were lucky to go up in one before sunrise - incredible! The snow covered peak was beautiful. Legend has it that Mount Ararat was where Noah's Ark rested. Since the s, several dozen expeditions have scaled Mt. Ararat in hopes of finding evidence of the giant wooden boat nothing yet! Malatya is heaven for apricot lovers: We ate our bodyweight in apricots cycling through the Malatya region. Malatya provides 90 per cent of the worlds dried apricot supply.
We saw thousands of apricot trees and the fruit being dried on huge blue tarpaulins. To whom it may concern, I would like to lodge a formal complaint please, about the wind. Long, tough days with howling head winds were definitely not advertised in The Long Way Home trip brochure. The reality is there have been some moments, especially of late, where I just want to drop the bike, fly away, have some beers with friends and sleep in my own bed.
And almost always these moments of feeling really down are closely linked to a day of being beaten up by the elements. Everyday on the bike we get exposed to the weather. But the wind, oh oh the wind Anyone who has gone for a bike ride knows the wind can either be your best friend or worst enemy.
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Over 90km, this can mean the difference between spending 7 hours in the saddle, or as little as 2. We have been battling with head winds for the last 10 days straight through Turkmenistan in 40deg temperatures, and even stronger winds in Uzbekistan. Imagine endless flat plains, nothing but sand, dirt and shrubs to look at, and the wind in your face like a hairdryer, hour after hour.
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Our panniers either act as sails in a tail wind, helping us to catch the wind, or they act as brick walls, only adding to the misery. Trucks going past offer a very brief respite as the wind pressure they generate gives us a little push in the right direction. You can totally feel the difference, and can sometimes even stop pedalling for a bit of a break whilst maintaining speed.
Check out the guys in a Tour de France peloton, most of the guys at the back are just cruising. This is why we labeled Emma the wind blocker, and why we were so distraught to see her go of course we also miss her witty banter. Being stronger than SVB and I she could sit out front of the group and absorb the wind like a sponge, while we thankfully tucked in behind doing far less than our fair share, telling ourselves we were doing her a favour in her training for Tokyo.
We constantly look anxiously at flags and trees, even at grass on the side of the road, trying to figure out which direction its blowing, then check the map and the layout of the route, trying to determine the answer to every days biggest question: tail or head. Even then its not that simple as it often changes direction depending on valleys, hills, buildings or just because it wants to.
We downloaded a wind direction app, but in the end deleted it, deciding that it is what it is, we cant change the weather or the direction we are travelling. We are sitting on a ferry crossing the Sea of Marama that will take us into Istanbul, after being advised not to try and cycle in with the crazy big city traffic. The five hour boat ride gives some time to reflect on the past 5 weeks since we left Lausanne, especially now that we have hit Turkey, which for some reason all of a sudden feels very far away from Switzerland, its not somewhere you would normally drive to let alone arrive by bike.
One of the most striking things for me about the journey so far is that time seems to pass so fast on the trip. I think its because nothing is constant, except for the bike you are sitting on, the km clock ticking over, and the two friends I am with. At home almost everything was constant, the bed I slept in, the alarm clock, the work chair, the supermarket, the routine of coffees and meals. Now every bed is different, the only one that stays the same is the air mattress that lies in the tent, that is pitched on the side of the road or a random camping ground found at the end of the day.
Every meal is had at a different place, each hour the view and scenery changes, and then every week or so the culture changes, the language changes, the currency, the vibe. And its for all these reasons that each day, each week seems to go past in a flash, because the constants of home that you normally use to anchor your day and your life are gone. Instead we look to other anchors such as keeping in touch with friends and family, who keep us grounded in the real world.
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We have learnt to appreciate the small things in life. A shower at the end of the day, a coffee, a hot meal, and most of all a comfortable bed. These simple things that we took for granted before we started are now reasons to smile and whoop! We say cheers at the end of every day, to celebrate the day and the km completed on the road. We have all agreed that the most interesting parts of the trip have been those spent with locals - family of friends who have so warmly welcomed us into their homes, cooked incredible local fare for us and even given up their beds for us.
Their generosity and hospitality has blown us away and we have all vowed that we will return the favor to any travellers who need hospitality in the future. Equally, we have been incredibly fortunate to have had the assistance of the community of National Olympic Committees and Olympians along the way supporting us with accommodation and meals.
They have also provided invaluable advice about roads to take or not take places to eat and even ridden some of the day with us. Although many people speak good English, many great conversations have been had not by speaking but in sign language. We learn things about the way other people live every day that make you appreciate what you have. People who have lived with bombs being dropped on their street, people for whom international travel is a distant dream. To say we are grateful for every little bit of assistance we have received is an understatement We have also been incredibly lucky to have some lovely familiar faces come to visit us along the way.
Starting with the big crew who rode with us on day two up the Simplon Pass, Bonnie in Sofia, Helen and Stefan in Plovdiv who even braved the trucks to ride with us for a few km and Dave and Rebecca who will come to Istanbul. All little snippets of home that have helped us to be able to better share what the journey is about with our friends, but also have provided a much welcome boost to the morale with familiar laughs, chats and bear hugs.
We are all a little quiet sitting on the ferry right now.
Mixed emotions of making it as far as Istanbul, feeling smashed after some long days riding in the sun, but mainly it marks a huge stage of the journey for us as sadly today was our last day riding with our wind breaker, ET or Emma. We were on our fifth day of cycling when I found myself in an Olympian sandwich.
Facing a brutal headwind and running out of steam from my fading Haribo gummy bear supply, I was starting to seriously lag behind the girls. They slowed down and waited while I thrashed on the pedals to catch up. And so I did and so it was - managing to finish the final 10km of the day in - what I now call - the 'Olympian sandwich'. Fast forward to day We were cycling in pouring rain somewhere between Starigrad and Sibenik in Croatia. It was not possible to get any more drenched stunning scenery though! How could I even think of complaining about the rain after this?!
Luckily for us the sun came out within the hour. The above are small examples illustrating how wonderful my Olympian teammates are. Rob Waddell and Cathy Freeman's gold medals remain a vivid memory 18 years on, and before this adventure, I worked for the International Olympic Committee for four years. So it's fair to say that I will never pass up any opportunity to rub shoulders with Olympians.
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Especially 6 months on the road travelling the world by bike with these two kiwi Olympian legends. I wanted to dedicate my first blog to Becs and ET and reflect on the kindness and patience these two have shown me over the past 23 days. Not always an easy task for them dealing with someone who is incredibly impractical. Thank you ladies. She can put up her tent and get the water boiling on our camp stoves before I have put the tent poles together. This adventure was her brainchild, and she is one of the bravest people I know. She shows no fear on the roads when trucks hurtle past and she always has a smile on her face even after a big day of riding.
Although I struggle to use Google maps so I am obviously no help on the navigation front , she never seems to get annoyed when I constantly ask her which way we are going. Use trail reports to comment on trail conditions. Upcoming Events. Long Way Home Details Activities.
Mountain Bike Hike Trail Running. Sumas Mountain Abbotsford, British Columbia. Black Diamond rate. Both Directions Popular direction shown. Avg: 3. Trail Style. Direction Trail Flow Color. Trails on Wishlist Yes No login Activity Type. Trail Ridden Direction Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension. The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction. Trail Last Ridden Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine the last time a trail was ridden.
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Ridelog Year All-time Directions to long-way-home trailhead May 7, pm. Apr 26, pm.