We are now on the bus from Gebze to Çanakkale as I write this. We’ve completely changed our plans. Ersin the cyclist we stayed with convinced us to cycle along the coast and he gave the tip to do this part by bus because it is not fun to cycle. So we listened and he helped us with the bus tickets.
Our last day in Istanbul is a very relaxed day. We take the time to bring social media completely up to date and in the evening we have an appointment with Eelke and her boyfriend Max. We had already met Eelke on the bicycle, she is on her way to China on her own. It was a super fun evening! We had a bite to eat and a beer while having nice conversations. Hopefully we’ll see you again in the future!
The time has come to say goodbye to this wonderful city and go to an Ultra trail run event with Ersin and his girlfriend Reyhan. We actually have no idea what we will find there. Ersin and Reyhan go there with their camper and take our panniers with them. So our first day of cycling will be a relatively easy one. Although I have to say that it gets hotter as summer approaches and the road there isn’t the flattest.
We arrive early and rest a bit in the shade. A policeman sees us and gives us two apples, we haven’t had such tasty apples in ages. We notice that we are tired of city life. The few hours of sleep, the alcohol and all the impressions have demanded a lot from us. We both fall asleep and when we wake up, the organization’s preparations are much further along. There is a stage, fences along the finish, food trucks and there are lights in the trees.
Ersin and Reyhan have also arrived and are already completely settled. We quickly set up the tent and sit down with them and take a bottle of wine with us. Meanwhile, more and more people trickle in and the site is filled with tents and caravans. Music is playing and there is a lively, free atmosphere. Everyone comes to say hello and it seems like everyone knows each other. More chairs are added, the group is getting bigger, the alcohol is being drunk, we gather wood for the chai, there is dancing and hard laughter. We also meet more and more people, including a number of people from the organization. Later we hear them talking over the microphone about Dutch people on their bicycles. So by now everyone knows who we are.
One lady keeps herself busy with the chai all evening. She is calm, is one of the few that wears a headscarf, while her daughters are wearing shorts and tummy tops. She seems to love having her job of keeping the fire going, replenishing water and the chai. Now and then she asks one of her daughters to fetch water for her. And we can make her happy with some gathered wood.
For example, you will see a special device for making chai in every group. It takes over an hour for the chai to be ready. Out of one tap comes the tea and one tap hot water. About half and half is poured into a glass.
The sun is slowly setting, barrels are lit with big fires (in retrospect we didn’t like that because there were a lot of small burn holes in our tent), the music was turned up a notch and we can get free food from a tent. It was unreal that we ended up here and we are both euphoric.
After midnight we go to bed while the music is still on and people are still crawling around our tent. There was almost no sleep. We didn’t have a moment of silence that night and in the morning the first riders started already at 5 o’clock. Most of our group of friends had to start at 8am. We ate a full breakfast with everyone. And Q and I went to the start cheering for them.
It’s nice to see that everyone is sharing everything here. We receive a lot of hospitality, but that is normal for everyone here. Everyone gives and receives and at an event like this it is very clear to see. Everyone has good food and walks over to each other to give some to the other and a little later that person comes back to do exactly the same for you. Fortunately, we also brought some simple things to share. And it’s nice to see that it is appreciated, it makes us belong a little more.
While everyone is running we try to relax a bit. Meanwhile, the music is deafeningly loud, so there is no real rest. When we think they will be back soon, we cut a melon for the runners and stand aside to cheer and clap everyone who is arriving at the finish. After a while Ersin and Reyhan come running hand in hand!! Completely shattered in the sweltering heat after running 17km over rough terrain.
That night will be the last night with Ersin after spending three nights with him and two nights at the event. He has taken us completely into his world in these days. Cooked amazing food for us, relaxed together on an island on his birthday, we were taken with his cycling club that we never wanted to miss and this event was the icing on the cake. Thank you Ersin and Reyhan. We will try our best to get to you at the coast in time to see you there again!! Hopefully see you soon 🙂