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The Stretches

June 16, 2010
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I’ve been looking this evening in some more detail at some of the bigger stretches that we will be making past Istanbul. The first one is the tantalising prospect of crossing Turkey in winter. Turkey is well known to have fairly savage snow in its winter months – particularly in the east, where the mountains are covered from November to April. These mountains (around erzurum) lie pretty much slap bang in the middle of our current route through the country.

The options are to go south where its warmer, and hug the coast from Antalya to Mersin and toy with the Syria border as we brush past Iraq – aside from being a huge extension in miles this is obviosuly not such an attractive idea.

The other (and much more logical option) is to stay north and hug the coast of the black sea. being coastal, the weather will be more temperate and it will be flat. This stretch of coast is also meant to be gorgeous so bypassing the brunt of Turkish winter could turn in to a beautiful, comfortable and warm(ish) introduction to cycling in the middle east (optimism pervails!)

The next stretch is Iran, with the small issue of Armenia in between. Apparantly the winters here are quite tough, but we’re going to be facing winter at some point however we go, so i think we’re just going to have to brunt it.

More on the Iran and CIS (stans) another day, but I did a bit of a jump and looked towards the Karakoram and negotiating Pakistan and Kashmir.

Firstly theres the problem of the huge lake that is welling up in this region, potentially bursting its banks and destroying thousands of homes, as well as our route through the area. Then there’s Kashmir to deal with. Obviously this is a political hot cookie, and seems to bubble up and down in volatility on a sporadic basis (at least that is what it looks like through the goggles of our beloved media)

doing some bike related reading into the area, it seems it is great cycling, and is a fairly well padded region. There are many great stories from thorntree of cycling in Kashmir, particularly this one, where the guy biked Leh to Srinigar in three days (ultra light weight cycling was his mantra, which you can see from his map at the bottom of his blog)

Ultimately we’d like to leave the silk road and head to Chandigarh – I really want to see what Corb did with the place. Then from there the next stretch is the big push into the Himalayan foothills towards Kathamandu.

So to recap, breaking down the trip into these stretches (and adding the other ones that I havent mentioned – its always nice to have a summary) this is what it could bike like

London > Istanbul

Istanbul > Black Sea Coast > Armenia

Armenia > Iran

Iran > CIS

CIS > Karakoram

Karakoram > Chandigarh

Chandigarh > Kathamandu

highly doable dont you think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ara G permalink
    June 17, 2010 6:29 pm

    Sounds like a daringly wonderful trek. Keep also in mind that Armenia remains blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan and the borders are closed. An alternative would be Georgia-Armenia-Iran. Try and stay away from the deadly desert in the east of Iran.

    Happy cycling…

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