I'm definitely getting worse at these early starts. And talk about some late Mihailo influence - I now roll over and snooze when I hear the pittar patter of rain on my tent...what a softie I have become!
By 10:00am my oat and caffeine levels are sufficiently boosted and I'm feeling most operational. As I wheel my bike to the road I detect a slight tailwind. So to those of you who wished me a "good wind" - thankyou, I just got it! As to be expected (with said wind assistance) the ride to Çanakkale is easy and I arrive thirty minutes ahead of my ETA.
As I cycle toward the ferry port I notice a number of cycle paths! I think the first I've seen in Turkey. The town of Çanakkale has quite a modern feel - atleast when compared the settlements I've been passing to and from Babakale. Some quite trendy looking shop fronts and many cafés. I suspect tourism is rife here but it doesn't have the same feel as Sultan Ahmet (the hostel/hotel district of Istanbul, that gets quite tiresome after anything more than a few days thanks to the tourist density).
I pay my 2tl and take my place on the ferry. For the third time on the trip I use my webbing strap to lash the bike down securely. That's three uses in as many months - enough usage to justify the carrying the weight...let me consider it for another 5000km. I can't help but think that when I reach more exotic climbs it will become a sling from which to suspend my bike as I traverse a crevasse on a zip-line made of vines...yes...anyway.
Forgive my brief departure from reality. The real me is currently sitting under a meagre shelter on the top deck of a lumbering car ferry in the pissing rain.
Half an hour later, back terra firma, I roll through the town of Eceabat. I lean the bike against a bench and call into a shop for some bread and a jar of honey(which I have been craving for some days). By some bizarre means the tailwind has become a slight headwind - though I maintain the same direction as this morning. The flat road tucks tight to the coastline and so makes for interesting cycling. I see many potential scenic camping spots but having had several lazy days I need to press on atleast a little while longer. A road sign informs me I'm 300km from Istanbul - assuming no problems occur that's three days ride.
My only company for the latter half of the day is the raindrops - sometimes lots, sometimes only few, but always some. Not a single car passes me for several hours. At five o'clock I pull into a café to warm up with some çay (pronounced chi). I sit for almost an hour. My eyes flitting between the rain, my emails(thanks to free wifi) and the half dressed women that seem to feature in every Turkish music video(courtesy of a TV meters from my table). All the staff are very friendly and insist I sit inside rather than head out to the rain. At 0.5tl for one çay I could well do just that - but it wouldn't serve to get me any closer to Istanbul. Back on the wet saddle my body takes some warming up. I see the slightly unnerving sight of a kid(perhaps 14 or so) with a gun - that looks mighty substantial for an air rifle, though I suspect that's all it was. He doesn't return my cheery greeting and for the next 200 meters a tuck my head a little lower down between my shoulders – half expecting to feel the sharp sting of an air propelled pellet.
At 6:30 I start looking for camp spots. I'm not feeling very picky. Actually I'm feeling cold and wet. I wheel the bike down a small embankment and wait for the cover of dark.
Note: I've been attempting to shoot video - hence a lack of photos.