It’s been 10 days since I caught the 6 a.m. ferry over the Bosphorous, left the sprawl of Istanbul behind me and headed Northeast, up and over to the Black Sea coastline. I’ve followed it to Sinop, where physically it has been some of the toughest riding so far.
Mentally though, I’m in a good place. My mindset seems to have changed since I arrived in Asia – I feel more relaxed and less rushed than before. In Europe I was dashing from city to city and country to country, whereas here I know that it will take me a few weeks to cover Turkey and rushing on a single day won’t change that. I’m eating better and I’ve taken the time to stretch and do the occasional yoga when I stop. But perhaps best of all, I’m finally reading! Hitherto, my Kindle had stayed stashed in a side pocket, gathering dust – now I read in the morning, at lunch, in the evenings, whenever I can.
I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking, principally because very sadly after one and a half years of being together, Marie and I broke up whilst I was staying in Istanbul. The mix of spectacular scenery and calm days on the bike have helped, as does being offline. Besides, The sea is a good place to think of the future…*
Black Sea, Blue Water
I headed to the coast for the cooler climes more than anything else, realising that 40 degree heat wasn’t my cup of tea. The decision has been a fantastic one though, as the coastline has offered up pearl after pearl of incredible scenery. The sea has been a brilliant blue, warm to swim in and whilst skirting around the Küne Dagliari mountain range stunningly beautiful.
However despite being so close to the sea, I have done more climbing than at any other time in this trip. I complained a few weeks ago about Turkish hills, but if I could go back and speak to my former self I would pat him on the head and tell him, “You know nothing Josh Day”. The beaches are flat of course, but venture just 100m inland and the road rears up at astonishingly and agonisingly steep gradients, climbing up and over to the next cove and repeated all along the coastline. Beyond the pleasingly named Zonguldak the mountains fall straight into the sea, with no room for a road at all. Here, the climbs were long, hard (consistently >10%) and continuous, but rewarding for the views from the top, a strong sea breeze (read headwind) has kept me cool as well.