Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Kaynasli - Baltali 45km 19/12/2010

Sleeping in holds little appeal given the endless drone of lorries meters from the tents. Ten kilometers of uphill gets the blood pumping straight away. At the top of the nine hundred meter pass rain threatens and so we don the ponchos. Right pair of wallies we look too!

Thanks to our morning of climbing we're rewarded with and afternoon of easy cruising - with a few monster decents thrown in. My poor diet infects Stu over several days. Today for lunch we eat white bread, mixed with olive oil and spices. Muhahahaha - one more redundant stove!! I'll get him on jam next....

As the fog gathers once more we turn our eyes to shelter. In Baltali an unused construction site catches our eye. Two Germans Shepherds threaten to give us away but even they lose us in the darkness. We set out our gear in a poorly constructed workmans lodge. Sweep up the mouse poo and lay down sheets of insulation on which to sleep. Dust off my stove to brew some cay. Watch a film on the laptop. Oh sweet luxury!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Dongelli - kaynasli 33 km 18/12/2010

 As the alarm sounds we are both reluctant to move. A brief unzipping of the sleeping bag alerts us to the condition of the day - damn cold. Our concrete cell has lost all its heat (due in part to the 5'x3' opening in the wall).

The days riding does not (as we'd hoped) begin early. We don't even make it as far as the main road before a man off to our left heckles the familiar call of "çay". We stop for our Turkish Red bull (as it has become known) and answer the usual questions. Wave some goodbyes and hit the road.

For lunch we take a break from Stu's Super Food Diet and revert to my Athletes Nutrition Plan - white bread and some Nutella rip-off. We take a seat in the sun to devour the empty calories.

A smiling man on his moped stops for a chat. We are slowly getting better at answering the questions in questionable Turkish. The conversation is somehow steered towards food. He asks if we would like lunch. Our answer is of course "yes".

We meet some of his family. Two very cute grandchildren. A bunch of chickens. And a dog. We look at maps and talk about Turkey. We ogle his Russian motorcycle. Then we receive a feast to end all feasts - twas nearly the end of me too...such was my grotesque gorging. Stuffed peppers, rice, chicken, salad, potatoes, soup. All home cooked. Delicious! We snap some photos together and say our goodbyes. They all wave as we ride on down the way.

No more than five hundred meters up the road we are once more collared. Cay o'clock. We are not kept so long this time. Just a short and sweet interaction with a cheery bus driver.

With the last of the light we begin the twelve kilometre climb upto the town of Bolu. Stopping as soon as we find an appropriate camp spot.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Sapanca - dongelli 62km 17/12/2010

Lessons you should learn as a child...

To the shock of ourselves (and perhaps any readers) we manage to wake with the alarm. The biting wind is howling over from Russia and rattling the precarious tin roof above our heads. Çay and bulgarwheat for breakfast.

By the time we hit the road the headwind has died down - even becoming a slight tail wind. As yesterday, the road is lined eitherside by scabby industry. The day is grey and light rain falls steadily for much of the morning. Piles of ploughed snow line the roads. Finally in snow country. At times the road becomes slushy mud and our bikes get coated in kack.

The rain gets gradually heavier. We resist going for full rain gear. Often on the bike ones body produces enough heat to cause a drying effect. Not today.

By lunchtime its raining with fury. The riding is grim. In our ill equipped state we lose the battle with the cold. Hands and feet lose all feeling. Seeking refuge in a mosque we change into the only dry clothes we have. Pop into a cafe for a royal ripping off - think they saw us coming. We are both grateful for the brief respite. After perhaps an hour of radiator hugging our bodies feel a little more lively. Back to the bikes

We are warned by a passer by about the road ahead - and the apparent two meters of snow that currently cover it. I start to fear for the future of my trip and begin to believe the hype about the harsh winter predicted.

We roll on, feeling a little warmer. Kicking ourselves for not putting on waterproofs at the first drop of rain. We really should know better...

We turn our attention to shelter - in the knowledge that we really need a way to dry our clothes out.

An abandoned garage and restaurant take our fancy. A good selection of rooms from which to choose. One on which contains several wooden chairs - clothes drying fire sorted.

Concered about keen eyes spotting the orange glow emitting from our window we both keep an eye on the carpark out front. But aside from the odd car stopping for a look, no-one takes any notice.

Black painted chairs are smashed up to create fire wood. We pick a room with an open window hoping it will draw the smoke out. Get the fire cranking and lay our soaked clothes around it. In no time the is filled with thick smoke - the kind that makes your throat sting and eyes stream.

Lessons one: when it rain, wear waterproofs.

Lesson two: Burning paint is not good for your health (expect cancer) - though it does dry wet clothes.

I expect most of you don't need to be taught such things. I write them in the hope that I remember them.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Korfez - Sapanca 65 km 16/12/2010

My failure to recognise the alarm resulted in a tardy start to our first day on the road. Experimental bulgar for breakfast and slow packing sees us on the road by 10:30.

Dull riding. Sprawling suburbia flanks both side of the carriageway. Lots of toots and waves keep us entertained. Turkey smashing all others in the Smile Game.

Huge meal for lunch at a hypermarket. 2.5 kgs of yoghurt - not our wisest purchase. We share tucker with the sparrows in the carpark and get back to it.

On the brink of dark we come to a burnt out building. The twisted tin roof seems to levitate above the ground. All support struts are bent and mangled dropping the roof down a few feet. It looks to provide shelter from the weather. We explore like children. Decide to setup and make a fire for some extra warmth.

The owner of the premises spots our flickering light and comes to investigate. Not a happy chappy. Puffed out chest and wide arms - a fine macho display. He asks us to put out the fire. We do. His friend is a little more understanding - seeing that we just want shelter from the rain. They try to tell us something with gestures of guns but we don’t understand. It didn't seem overly threatening. Chesty comes back a while later. We offer him chestnuts cooked on the embers of our (now extinguished) fire. I tell him I'm an electrician when I see him fixing a light - though he makes no use of my ever fading skills, it seems he's now "on side". I based this on the fact that he's now smiling with us as we talk.

He asks we follow him. We walk to his truck. Out of the passenger side he pulls a pump action shotgun. He motion we follow him. Still with no perceptible aggression in his manner. We walk a way down the road. He loads a round, cocks the gun, and fires into the air. The crack makes me jump. We turn off the road and head down a bank, down towards the water. On the way he points out the border of the land that he owns. Neither Stu or I have a great feeling about our current situation. I mull over whether or not it would hurt to be shot with said gun at very close range. Not really a feeling one can imagine. Our guide casually swings the gun backwards over his shoulder. From my vantage behind him every dip in his stride reveals the black hole of the gun barrel. Stu unsheaths his knife as I feel the tickle of fear within. We reach an old building with a dog chained up outside. "Pitbull" he says. Though it looks like no Pitbull I've seen - just some odd crossbreed.

He hands Stu the gun. Small sigh of relief...perhaps we shall not die tonight. We now wonder if the dog is going to get it - rather than us....Neither it seems. We walk back up. Into his cabin where his friend is waiting. Feast on the table. Have dinner together. Tasty fudge stuff called Eva. We talk about religion - now comfortable with the loaded weapon on the couch opposite. We say a chant together in Turkish/Arabic. Apparently we became brothers at the moment. Something akin to Blood Brothers I believe. Not a bad nights sleep. Smelly farts.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Buyukada - Korfez 53km 15/12/2010

Pack up the tent. Tidy our rather scabby campsite. Dust off the legs muscles. Say goodbye to Gizem. One last hit of lentil soup and then catch the ferry.

Leaving Istanbul from James Rathbone on Vimeo.

The temperature has dropped significantly since my entrance to the city. I now stare up at the long learning curve of cycle touring in winter. More layers to balance and tent condensation to dodge. More food to eat! The riding is flat with suits my runtish legs and sagging gut.

We camp early. It's now getting dark at four o'clock. We're done with dinner and çay by six in the evening. The wind makes it too cold to hang around outside and chat. Early night it is then.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Istanbul - The Last Hurrah ('bout time Jimmy)

Back on the Island we meet David and Linda from Sweden. They are hoping to find a camping spot and we point them in the direction of ours. The two become four. We have a cool couple of days doing yoga (they are both instructors) and making music around the fire pit. We also introduce them to the delights of Istanbul's nightlife.

The days disappear to shopping and gear repair. The nights to music and meals at various houses on the island. By the end of week three on the Island I'm about ready to leave. A fair part of me doesn't want to go. But, as you know by now, that is exactly why I should. Now the reality of the winter is here the challenge doesn't seem quite so appealing. From my vantage point on the Island I can see the snow covered mountains to the East – looking like they're going to chew me up and spit me out as tiny ice-cubes.

From a fitness point of view I feel like I'm starting again. The hardness has gone from my legs and my lungs are no longer able to move big quantities of air. I wince at the thought of breaking in my bum! But, the adventure starts here. I now leave Europe behind and head for the Middle East and Central Asia. With visa's for Iran and Uzbekistan – I know I'm at least able to travel that far.

I seemed to have gained a new riding buddy too. Stu (didg man) is heading to Georgia to chase some work (and American girls). For a few weeks we will ride together until Eastern Turkey where we'll split. Bonus! It should serve to soften the blow – knowing that the lonely blues is postponed for a few weeks.

Istanbul has been a blast. I realised a few days ago that I've spent more time here than any other city in the world! While I've spent far too much money here I can't say I regret it. I've met heaps of great and interesting people, and feel absolutely changed (for the better) by some of these interactions.

Back to the road – damn it feels good to type that!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Istanbul - The Border Dash

I sleep right through my alarm – rising only once David rattles my tent an 10 o'clock. Once through with some epic faffing I'm finally on the ferry. Only five hours behind schedule too. The task today is to get a new Turkish tourist visa, without crazy travel expenses. Twenty Lira for a bus to the boarder town seems quite reasonable. Not as cheap as hitching, but more reliable given my tight time frame (my visa runs out today).

I arrive outside Edirne at nine thirty and get to walking. I have twenty kilometres to cover before midnight. The temperature has dropped significantly. My breath condenses on my moustache which gives the sensation of having a really runny nose. I enjoy the walk. It's nice feel in the middle of nowhere again. Away from the chaos of the city. Peace, quiet and time to think. I'd like to say I've always had the “it'll work out” philosophy, but with my last minute boarder dash I feel I'm at least now putting it into practice. Thanks to a storming pace I make the boarder with time to spare.

The guard is somewhat difficult. I suspect he wasn't top group material in maths class – I get the impression he thinks I've overstayed. After some scribbling on a scrap of paper he says “OK, go”. I go.

It feels odd to walk the the area between countries. It's my friend Joe's birthday and I really want to send him a greeting from “no man's land”. But I think snapping photos in such an area may be pushing my luck. Sorry dude!

The Greek border guard is a cheery fellow. By border guard standards anyway. I still get a grilling, but it's done in a nice way. I don't know how, but one quickly learns how to treat boarder guards, and to give them the answers they want to hear. It's like – to have an answer for everything, without appearing to know it all. He looks almost upset when I explain that I'm not going to Greece, and just want a new Turkish visa. All I need is a stamp. There's a funny moment when he explains that (with Greece being in the EU) I don't need a stamp. But he says that if I tell him to stamp my passport he will:

“Sir, do you want me to stamp your passport?”

“I don't know, do you want me to want you to stamp my passport?”

etc. etc.

I sit and wait for fifteen minutes, as apparently I'm not allowed to simply turn around and walk back....He explains why, but his voice is drowned out by the sound of flying bullshit. The fifteen minutes expire and he allows my return to Turkey. I nod to the two gate guards, both sporting flashy assault rifles, and think to myself how dull their job must be – little did I know...

At the Turkish border office I'm once again exchanging with misery guts. Though it's not much of an exchange. He jabbers on at me for some time (in Turkish). I don't catch a word. I just continue to smile with a slightly vacant expression on my chops. Another fellow comes to the rescue and explains that I have to spend the night in Greece. Much as I thought. Fortunately tomorrow is twenty minutes away. Apparently this will not do, I must return at six or seven the following morning. I blubber something about not understanding and ask if I can pitch my tent on a small patch of grass outside the office. I then hear something resembling a sketch from Father Ted (but in Turkish).

“No no, n-no no no, no yes!”

I leave to go and set up my tent. All three behind the counter laugh...and then call me back.

“Fifteen Euro”.

“Lira?” (I don't have enough Euros)


Euro's it is. Exchanged courtesy of duty free. Then the bossy guy spots my guitar.

“Hey, come and play!” Gesturing I go round the back to the office entrance.

So I sit behind the counter with the three border guards. It's all a bit surreal. And slightly uncomfortable. They're nice enough, but they're border guards. I should loath them on sight and without question. I give them my best (newly learned) lapsteel slide blues while I stomp out a beat on the tiled floor. It sounds better than I expected (nothing like a bit of pressure). I even get claps and cheers. I spend the next thirty minutes showing them my website and explaining that my parents are not loaded, I am not rich, and I earned my money myself. I don't think they believed a word. At the end of it all they bid me goodnight with smiles and handshakes.

***Note to self: Play guitar at all future boarder crossings***

I walk on up the road rather chuffed with myself. It's twelve thirty. I'm pretty beat. While still in sight of the border I jump into a field and set up my tent. Without my mattress I can feel the cold ground sucking all the heat out of me. Gonna be a cold night.

Just as I'm drifting off to sleep I hear the footfalls of several people in the field. Voices too (not speaking Turkish). My breath becomes shallow and silent as I listen. They're close, really close. I didn't take much care being concealed from the road. As the amber of a sodium street light bathes my tent, I don't doubt they can see me. I hear muted talking and someone clicks their fingers twice. I brace myself for whatever card is about to be dealt my way (while cursing that I didn't have my knife handy). That said - fight or flight doesn't really apply when your lying butt naked zipped up in a tent. Twigs crack underfoot as they cross from the road to the field. My heart quickens – give me wolves in Bulgaria any day!

To my surprise the sounds get quieter. Though I dare not drop my guard just yet. I wait. I don't know what I wait for. But I wait. The next thing I hear is shouts go up from the direction of the border. The sound of panic. Tooth by tooth I unzip my tent trying desperately not to make a noise. I pop my head out to see truck headlights are scanning the landscape. I make out the “thud” of high voltage floodlights striking up. At the limit of my eyesight I see shadows running near the border office. I make the decision to bail. Socks on, boots on. Shit it's cold. First frost of the year. Whip out the tent pegs. Wrap everything up and codge it into a manageable lump with bungee chords. Get moving.

Back on the road I look for more hidden campsites but scrap the idea in favour of putting some distance between me and the fun and games which are going on behind me. I try to come up with a explanation for what I just witnessed. Not really wanting to find the answer. My suspicions are further confirmed when I reach the next checkpoint. The two guards are crouched either side of the road with rifles ready. One checks my passport. I am permitted to move on.

From then on I twitch at every dog bark and odd noise. I aim for the main bus terminal at Edirne. By three thirty I've walked over thirty kilometres. I give up and pitch my tent once more. Cold night.

***Note to self #2: Don't camp near borders***

***Note to self #3: Sleeping mats are for warmth more than comfort – do not go without***

Istanbul - Escape from Prince's Island

I should warn you. The following entries are relentless rambles regarding the pitfalls of visas and parcel collecting. Written as much for myself, as entertainment for others. If you lunch hour is short, perhaps it's better spent looking at friends of friends on facebook, or bidding on job lots of economy lightbulbs on ebay. Otherwise, read on.


I escape island life and head back to the chaos for a few days. I have chores to do and the hostel is a better local from which to do them.

Once back at the big apple I ditch my gear, grab some quick lunch, and head out to get "task 1" under my belt. That being, collect my parcel of goodies from customs. I take all manner of public transport out of the city to the airport. Atakoy airport is a fair size, and walking around the terminals is a tad impractical, not to mention time wasting. I ask for directions, most folks are very helpful and before long I'm in the right place.

From this right place I'm told I need to head across town to the DHL depot to buy my customs papers for the release of my parcel. Said papers are a steal at 150 Lira. I head back to the cargo terminal. I walk through a maze of corridors which lead to endless tiny grim offices. More asking reveals I need to be in the next building along. The whole area is filled with couriers and delivery drivers. As I pick my way through the cargo loading area dodging pallet trucks I notice I'm the only tourist in sight. A pushy guys tells me to follow him "come come". I smell a fishy whiff in the stale office air - but given lack of English speakers and countless identical offices I don't see that I have another option.

At high speed we weave through the press of sweaty smoke belching bodies. The big basement office is filled with people. The perimeter of the room is lined with desks, on top of which sit hundreds of relic computers from the 80's. My guide pesters several men before one of them agrees to sign my papers. I can't quite fathom the purpose of this stage of the operation - but figure it to be something like job creation/time wasting. Clutching my (now filled in) forms we run up eight flights of stairs to an office. A lone man, with a most spectacular moustache, sits at a desk. He gives me two stamps and scribbles something illegible on my papers (I think it was something like "rip this chump off").

My guide takes me to one final office. The place where I hand over my dosh. Before parting he demands 50 Lira! My first reaction is "what the fuck!!". But I don't convey this. The reality is I should have know better. In such circumstances help doesn't come cheap, let alone free. I cough up and smile, making a mental note to know better next time, all while visualising putting my fist through his pudgy face.

I'm yet to feel any closer to actually getting this package in my hands. The next step is to actually get to the same building as said package. The guys back at the DHL office are just leaving and offer to take me to the depot.

I guess if there is one area where I feel changed by travel its this. I now don't think twice about getting in a car with a bunch of strangers who don't speak my language. Blind trust, guide me well.

I expect this will all be rather dull reading. I hope it serves to portray the boredem and frustration of my day. We arrive at the DHL depot. My new guide takes me to the relevant offices. More paperwork, more surprise fees. Having paid almost everyone I've met today I offer to pay the friendly fellow for his help, but he refuses. I'm handed my parcel.

Metro, tram, hostel, beer, bed. Fin!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Istanbul - Escape to Prince's Island

Back at the hostel - a place that's becoming uncomfortably familiar. Now well into the quiet period before things pick up for Christmas, there are only a few hostellers to keep Stu (didgeridoo carrying cycle tourist) and I company. We meet Duane – a fellow guitarist originally from the UK, currently working in Iraq.

We spend a few nights playing guitar in a bar down the street from the hostel. The place has a good circulation of musicians along with a few guitars floating round. If they sold Real Ale I would think I'd died and gone to heaven. In said bar we meet a group from USA/Canada who sell us stories of making riches teaching English in Georgia. Had I not had my visa sorted for Iran, I'd have been mighty tempted.

I take one more trip to the Uzbekistan embassy and then Stu and I escape to Prince's Island (Buyukada) for some soul and liver cleansing.

While waiting at the docks for our ferry ride Bryan rolls up on his bike. Originally from the States Bryan now lives on the Island with his wife Gizem. The pair are cycle tourists and we immediately hit it off. They offer us the spare room in their house. So much for getting back to nature. We play lots of music and eat great food. Bryan takes a day off work, we take the kayaks out to a small cove and go diving for mussels – which we then cook for dinner. The guys are great company and we have a riot. After three nights we finally move out to find a camping spot. A sheltered rocky amphitheatre dotted with pine trees provide the perfect place. Though we continue to pester our new friends for this and that. Showers, food and company maily.

Gizem gets us to go and busk at a local organic farmers market. Before doing so she requests we take some pictures of us with our instruments so's to publicise the event some. Apparently our interpretation of "organic" was not culturally appropriate....
We have a ball and manage to make 95 Lira, along with 50 lira's worth of fresh veggies. We also get to sample some honey which costs a wopping 300 lira per kilo! Sweet aint the word!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Istanbul - CouchSurfing

So, with some sort of “plan” formed I turns my attention towards methods of time killage. The laptop sucks a few more days from me. I send emails to various wwoofing communities but the rather backwards application process puts me off. Too many forms, along with lots of emails – like I don't have enough of that with the visas.

Istanbul has an excellent CouchSurfing scene and so I post up a request for information/help on volunteering and accommodation.

After speaking with my good chum Tom from back home I realise not everyone is aware of CouchSurfing. So I'll tell abit about what I consider to be the most valuable internet invention....after porn.

Here's a link for those who want additional reading.


It's basically a database from which you request to sleep on peoples couches. You have a profile which describes yourself, your interests etc. You then search through a list of profiles in your city/town of choice, and send a request to your potential hosts. Not everyone can host, but some offer to show you round a city or meet for a coffee/chat - this can be an equally valuable service allowing one to miss all the tourist crap and get straight to the good stuff the city has to offer. I think of it as a cultural exchange as opposed to just a bed for the night. Though some use it solely for this purpose, I find I get more out of it if I put more in. In bigger cities groups hold meetings for hosts and travellers to meet up, find couches or just make friends.

My first host in Istanbul came in the form of Bashar, my post hadn't even been up a full day before his offer came in. And I jumped at it.

A meal with Bashar and his friend Sinan in Kadikoy

His house is in the Beykoz area of the Province, which is about twenty kilometres north along the Bosphuros on the Asian side. Bashar works in the day. I use the time to explore the city and sort things out (including my first trip to the Uzbekistan embassy).


Cycling north on the European side of the Boshporus is a nice ride, through some very wealthy parts of the city. I cringe at the properity as I ride past Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini garages. I guess there are several places in the world where owning a Lamborghini is pretty pointless - I'd say Istanbul is one of them. When you consider that a Lambo Gallardo can do 70mph in first gear before hitting the limiter, and at rush hour my bicycle can beat traffic across the city. Plus there are no areas for slow speed posing. But. I'm of course just bitter. Rant over.

Fairly unsuccessful on the visa front. It seems I can't get an application for over the counter, I have to download one and print it out - what ridiculous logic!! And so I leave empty handed.

Back at Kadikoy I hunt down a local looking place for some tasty Borek. Two guys sit at my table and the usual quesitons are given the usual answers. Sadly the conversation often revolve around money.

"you are very rich!"

I explain my diet to them, and that I drink the tap water (looks of disgust). And that I'm yet to see a millionaire travelling by bicycle. Still, to many, I probably am rich.

The owner Ahmen, treats me to my meal. Top man!


In the evenings we cook and listen to music. Each night Bashar suggests I stay another night, and each night I gratefully accept.

My next host takes the form of Collette. Orignally from America she moved here a few years back and teaches English. This deal is a little different to a typical couchsurfing arrangement. Collette and her partner Nur plan to go on holiday for a few days. My services are employed to look after their dog Rufus while they're away. My payment comes as free accommodation in a flat in Fenerbache with access to a great film/book collection.

I have a blast looking after Rufus (an 11 year old Jack Russell). Like all dogs his requirements are fairly simple – food, love and a little bit of exercise. He becomes my daily alarm clock – jumping up and down on me at eight o'clock on the dot each day. My days are a leisurely combination of dog walking, internet and films. Sometimes I would hang out with Colletes flatmate Sabrina for coffee or beer sessions. But most of the time she was busy preparing for her own around the world travels.

 On Wednesday Collette and Nur return home. We spend the evening catching up. I also get to say hello to an old friend of mine – whiskey. Jamesons Special no less. We play boardgames (at which I get creamed) – but the blow to the ego is softened by good whiskey and good company.

I try to make myself useful for the next few days doing abit of handywork around the flat. Some skirting board and new light fittings. It feels good to be able to offer something in return for the roof over my head.

On Sunday I leave Fenerbache. Nur is studying for an exam – and does not need the distraction of a smelly cyclists around the flat. Back to the Big Apple for me.

The alarm clock

Thursday, 2 December 2010


The hostel briefly quietened down, but this was only momentary. Seventy odd members of the Freiburg choir soon filled the entire hostel. It was cool to hear them warming up some mornings after breakfast. Sadly (thanks only to my lack of organisation) I didn't get to see them perform.

Clinton, a fellow electrician, from New Zealand was my beer buddy for the next few nights. Together we scoured some bars and crashed other hostels. Managed to end up dancing with a semi clothed Turkish belly dancer in front of a crowd of hostellers – less said about that the better...though I'd like to think we held our own in the "wiggling" department.

I did well for free alcohol at this time. Thanks to Virpi and Jouni (a totally cool couple from Finland) who donated half a bottle of vodka to the jimmyrathbone cause. Then a bottle of Russian vodka came my way as a guy was leaving the hostel! I didn't even get his name. But thankyou mystery man. As it was, I ended up drinking it with Russians no less.

My daily laptop sessions were only interrupted when Neil (a fellow cycle tourist) would come to visit me and drag me out for lunch. Clinton and I joined Neil and his friend Logan for a day trip out to the Princes Islands. A grand day it was too.

Princes Islands Ride from James Rathbone on Vimeo.

The following day Neil has the excellent idea to ride across the bridge. It sounded like a fun idea so I decide to join him. We manage to waste well over an hour trying to find a way on. We eventually do so, but as we pedal along the slip road I feel a chill as I spot an all-too-familiar green sign. This sign, as with many others, indicates that cycling is forbidden as this is a highway. Something tells me that by the end of this trip I will have forgotten the amounts of times I end up on such roads! We jostle on the hard shoulder with moped couriers. There are no exits before the bridge and so we continue on. At the start of the bridge there is a small cabin an a guard. He gestures that we should stop and we comply, pulling up in front of his cabin. He shakes his head and points back down the highway – suggesting that we ride back the way we came. I look over my shoulder and see a steady stream of motorcycles that would make such a route suicidal. We shrug at him, he shrugs at us. A car pulls up. They talk. All agree that it makes more sense for us to ride across the bridge. Scorchio!

***I later learn that the reason they don't let pedestrians/cyclists on the bridge anymore is because it was a popular place for suicide attempts***

Happy thoughts....