This cycling tour posting is from one of our Denver Bicycle Cafe regulars, avid cyclist and great all around person, Corey Baughman from the summer of last year.
Albanian kids testing my bike
I like to travel in an unscripted way because the best things in life for me are those I don’t control — the extemporaneous, unpredictable things; the interesting people and special events; but also, moving through others’ lives with all their experiences from exotic to mundane. I’d never taken a solo international bike trip before last summer, but it won’t be the last time if I can help it. I had a few weeks to burn before an engagement in Italy and I found that plane tickets to Istanbul were half the cost of those to Bologna… Could I fly to Istanbul and use the money saved on the flight to ride my bike to Italy? I was bored. I was in a stagnant period of life and I couldn’t shake the thought of that adventure. So, I pulled the trigger on the tickets to Turkey. I ordered some maps and saw so many possibilities… the route could go entirely through Greece… or it could snake any number of roads and paths through the Balkans. I had been to Greece and it was lovely and hospitable, but it was a known quantity—not what I was looking for. So, I decided to wing it, to seek the unknown places and just let the path dictate how I got to my destination. I booked the cheapest Airbnb I could find in Istanbul so I would have a sure place to start, but made no other plans or reservations.
I found myself staying in the home of an Egyptian woman who had left the chaos of Egypt for opportunity in Turkey. I shared that humble place with a Muslim girl from Singapore on pilgrimage to sacred sights, a Japanese couple, and a young German tourist. My bike was lost for a few days so I explored the ancient city, connected with an old Turkish friend from my college rowing team, and tracked down one of the few cycling kits to be had in that town (I had forgotten mine!)