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08th March 2011 – Back on the road

April 30, 2011
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So finally, after an overly long wait in Van, its time to hit the road again, although its not quite how I had hoped.

Mathias has had to return to France –complications with his bike have meant that he arrived in Turkey with a frame two sizes two small and thus unrideable – totally the fault of the bike shop, they fobbed him off the wrong bike to cover up the order mistake they had made – so Mathias has to return to pick up the correct bike. The bikeshop have agreed to pay his flight, so he will only lose one week of cycling, but as you can imagine its less than an ideal start to his trip.

Me and Julian will have to push on without him, and he will return to Van in a week and get a bus to meet us in Tabriz. I didnt think we’d be saying goodbye in Van! But here we are.

We make a good road out of Van and head north towards Dogubayazit – fondly named Dog Biscuit – and i’m in hope that we can reach a suitable stop with access to a TV so I can watch the Arsenal Barcelona game tonight…

The weather quickly deteriorates as Turkey makes it hard for us once again to cycle on its rolling mountains. The view of the lake is greatly reduced and we have to contend with cycling in hard rain, hoods up, with barely any visibility. The biting cold adds to the woe, as we climb and climb moving along the west coast of the lake. Eventually we leave the water behind us and head further into the mountains, and make it to Muradiye, totally exhausted and sodden after a long day in the saddle. We warm up in a tea house, the owner kindly piling anything he can find (even plastic crates) into the heater to help dry our wet gloves. Promise of a hotel nearby leads us outside, and we get taken by two rather cheeky young guys ‘money, money’ to a halls of residence for teachers. They won’t give us a room, but will let us sleep in the reception for free. And they’ve got a TV. Result.

We sit and make idle conversation for 2 hours to kill time before the game. They even buy us dinner and ply us with cigarettes (even the doctor was puffing away). The time comes for the match and its not being shown in Turkey! I am gutted. I explain my frustration to the domino playing crowd in the room next door and one of the guys jumps up and says we can watch it at his house on the internet. I jump in his car and we go to his house, get a good link up on the computer, and I watch Arsenal dismally drop out of the champions league much to the amusement of my hosts, who are of course Barcelona fans.

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