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The Best Bike Route Into Istanbul

Posted September 8th, 2010

I will never forget cycling into Istanbul.

Cycling into Turkey

With little experience in bike touring, we didn’t research the smaller roads well enough. Instead, we rode alongside heavy motorway traffic for several days on the D100 – the main highway from the Greek border to Turkey’s biggest city.

We weren’t alone. Many cyclists take the D100. Do they use this dangerous road because it’s easy, at least in terms of navigation? It is one straight line into Istanbul. Or perhaps they take it because, coming from Europe, they haven’t yet bought a decent Turkish map and don’t know of any other roads.

There Is A Better Way!

In fact, there are two better options:

#1. Southern Coast

Tim & Laura cycled into Istanbul in early 2014. They used the D100 until the port town of Silivri and then picked their way into the city on bike paths and smaller roads. On their website, they write:

We used smaller roads through Beylikduzu (Sari Zeybeck Cd runs parallel to the D100 for a bit).  Around Avcilar Sahil Parki the D100 runs along a narrow bit of land between the coast and a lake – on Google Maps it looks like there’s no other option but the main road, but it’s misleading and there’s actually a minor service road and/or pavements bikes can use so we were hardly on the main road at all. After this came the real joy. Between the airport and the coast, in Bakirkoy, we pedalled for a relatively long way on traffic free cycle routes along the sea front. Total winner. You end up on Kennedy Avenue right in the centre of Istanbul old city, and even this big road is fine as there is a designated cycle lane.

For more information, see their website.

#2. Along the D020.

In 2010, Frederike & Guy (cycling from the UK to Australia) posted details of their route into Istanbul.

The bulk of this route uses the D020, which sounds wonderful from their description:

“It’s a single lane coarse tarmac road through rural farm land. There is no hard shoulder but it’s not necessary as there is little traffic. The traffic that does pass, we found to be very courteous. According to a local, drivers are used to cyclists on this road.”

4000kmEven the very last stretch of their route, coming into Istanbul, was tranquil:

“Expecting a ferocious motorway it turned out to be a lovely single lane road weaving through small villages, suburbs and marinas. With the sun rising over Asia on the other side of the Bosporus, this was one of the most memorable and enjoyable rides we have ever done.”

And now, the small print. Since 2010, we’ve heard anecdotal reports that the D020 has been widened and is not quite as bike friendly as it used to be. This report from late 2013 seems to indicate that it’s still a feasible cycling route, and this blog post shows detailed maps for the last few miles between the D020 and the city centre. If you try it, please let us know about the current conditions.

Read more about Frederike & Guy’s journey to Istanbul, and download the GPX file for this route.

Keeping Cool On Summer Bike Tours

Posted August 7th, 2010

dsc_2715.jpgSummer is both the nicest time of year to go on tour, and also one of the more challenging.

High temperatures mean you have to be well prepared to deal with the heat. There’s sunburn to worry about, dehydration and, worst of all, sunstroke.

We’ve experienced all of these, and we wouldn’t like to repeat any of them!

Read our tips for keeping cool while cycling in the summer, including staying hydrated and what kind of clothing to wear.

Planet Superflash Bike Light Review

Posted June 16th, 2010

reisuperflashWe try to avoid cycling in the dark but sometimes it can’t be helped.

Unexpectedly long days, bad weather and tunnels all create situations where you’ll need a light on your bike.

Which one to get? Our favourite is the Planet Superflash bike light ($25 from REI or $22.90 from CycloCamping).

It is stunningly bright, clips as easily onto your bags as it does a seatpost and is reasonably priced.

Read the full review of the Planet Superflash Bike Light in our resources section.

Thunderstorm Safety While Cycling

Posted May 27th, 2010

Thunderstorms AheadNot a lot scares me about bike touring any more.

I’ve come to terms with heavy traffic, sounds in the night while wild camping and the agony of leaving the security of home behind for life on the road.

But there’s still one thing that turns me from an adventurous cyclist into a trembling toddler within seconds.

Thunderstorms.

Bang! Avoiding Lightning On Your Bike Tour is the latest article in our resources section and offers tips on staying safe in an electrical storm.

Norwegian Tunnels Map For Cyclists

Posted February 17th, 2010

tunnelnorway.jpgBike touring in Norway means dealing with plenty of tunnels, some of them long, dark and narrow.

Happily there’s an excellent Map of Norwegian Tunnels to help you sort the bike-friendly tunnels from the ones to avoid.

The authors compiled the map after cycling in Norway and dealing with tunnels up to 24km long.

“In one tunnel it was so dark even with reasonable lights and a head torch I got quite disorientated especially after being blinded by the lights of the on coming traffic and this coupled with the traffic noise which seems to be magnified 10 times, can make for a quite scary experience and not for the inexperienced rider!” -Cycle Tourer website

They divide tunnels into 3 main categories:

grmarkerTunnels open to cyclists and considered to be OK to cycle through.yellmarkerTunnels open to cyclists but caution required.redmarkerTunnel closed or unsuitable for cyclists.

You can see the tunnel locations on an interactive map, download a POI file for your GPS and even search for the tunnels by road number.

The same couple also put together some excellent general notes on cycle touring in Norway.