MY 3300 KM CYCLING JOURNEY FROM FRANCE TO TURKEY
From the 4th of August 2019 to the 14th of September 2019
4 years since my last cycling trip and i must say that I missed it very much. I was working in New Zealand for a while with my wife and we decided to move to back to her home town in Malaysia (Kuala-Lumpur). We had a lot to organize in terms of visas and I did not have time to prepare nor do a cycling trip beforehand but it was always somewhere hidden in my mind. As you know, I work as a professional photographer ''My Little Moana'' and back in September 2018 I did a photo session with children with cancer here in Kuala-Lumpur, following the shooting I decided that I will be raising fund for these kids during my next adventure.
HOW EVERYTHING STARTED...
I always try to give back as much as I can while traveling and raise money for different charity as No one has ever become poor by giving. (Thank you Anne Frank) This time I wanted to do things a bit differently so I went directly to the National Cancer Society Center in Kuala-Lumpur and told them about my future cycling project and that I will be glad to help children with Cancer during my next adventure. As a photographer I wanted these children to feel strong and confident so I rent Super Hero Costumes ( Cool Costumes | Time squares | KL) and went back to the center to give these children an amazing experience.
MY SPONSORS & SUPPORT
I was extremely lucky to find people that were interested in my project and that helped me and supported me...
Forest Cycle Center Kuala-Lumpur
TRS Bike sponsored me a TRS Hybrid Prisma bike for my journey across Europe and I could not be happier by their gesture that will helped me fund raising for these children. You can check all the features here: Click here
THE FUND RAISING CAMPAIGN
FUND RAISING EVENTS
THE BEGINNING OF MY NEW JOURNEY
Not having seen my family and friends for nearly 2 years, it was time for me to go home and spend a little time with them before to start my adventure. I left France and began to travel & work abroad when I was 21 years old so my parents and friends are quite use to it but it is always hard being far from them and a huge pleasure to be around them when I come back.
Nicolas a friend that I met while working on the ski fields in France will be joining my quest for 15 days, we decided to leave on the 4th of august 2019. Nicolas is from the East of France and work as an artist but also a very athletic individual that ran 1400km in 43 days to fight against the over consumption of supermarket. Follow him Here
“I WOULD RATHER OWN A LITTLE AND SEE THE WORLD THAN OWN THE WORLD AND SEE A LITTLE OF IT.”
This morning, we left at 8H30 am from my house to Tanchet beach where my friends and family waited for us before our departure, the journalist that interviewed me previously was also here to capture a last shot in the order to add it to the article that will be published on Thursday.
We said goodbye at 9:30am and cycled on the velo Dysee, a cycling trail that goes all the way to the south of France. We quickly got lost few times and decided to carry on the main road for a while before to go back again on the cycling trail an extra 20km for nothing.
The Road is beautiful, we already saw various landscapes and it is great to finally discover my own country after traveling for many years abroad. We met few people on the road all of them were very kind to guide us on the right direction, it is not very nice to cycle between cars and trucks and it could also be very dangerous.
We reach La Rochelle quite late (around 7:30pm) Ceasar from ''Couchsurfing'' a website that allow you to find a host for the night were here to greet us, he embrace us and invite us inside his house and offer us a fresh beer. Ceasar is a very genuine and kind person, he also been traveling on his bike across south America and stayed for a while in Sri Lanka. He is now decided to come back to France and open his own business in La Rochelle specialize in massage and Ayurvédic treatment.
Couchsurfing with Ceasar in La Rochelle (France)
830 km in one Week
After one week, we had cycled 830 km it gave me the chance to visit friends that I did not see since my wedding day almost 4 years ago. I met Marion when I was 12 years in a kids camp (25 years ago) by that time internet did not exist and we kept in touch by sending each other post card, we lost contact when we were 18 years old and found each other again because of Facebook. Marion has 2 boys and she is now married to Lionel whose worked as a Carpenter. We spent the night talking about our traveling experiences and drinking French wine. Marion and Lionel lives in a small village far from the busy city in a beautiful house that they both continue to renovate slowly slowly.
When Chance is not on your side
EPIC DAY !!! After 1km only after our departure my left pedal broke, impossible to repair and I had to cycle the next 40 km on one leg...Lucky we found a bike shop at the ''Giant in Besier'' I met Max who is also from Les sables d'Olonne and that moved to Besier few years ago, Max is also a good friend of my cousin, that is soo crazy to cycle 900 km and to meet someone from my home town.. The world is so small. I changed my pedals, change my handlebar strap and bought another tube (just in case) Max was awesome ! He also gave me a massive discount (Thank you soo much) Nicolas also had troubles with the back of his cycling shoe and took the opportunity to buy a brand new fixation.
Bloody sun flies !!! We left our campsite at 7:30am sun flies are everywhere and we could see clouds of them, it is best to keep your month close. We followed the Canal and once again I got another puncture. My fourth punctures since we left, gravel is definitely a no no from now. We mostly had a head wind today and it makes a big difference and slow us down significantly. We also reached our first 1000km today in 10 days an average of 100km per day is not too bad.
BENVENUTI IN ITALIA
Today it is was a BAD day !!! We first cycled to Lorgues with Julien and stopped for a little coffee, after julien left the nightmare began, the roads were full of cars and motorbike everywhere, there were a Bike event ''Hell Show'' for the next 3 days that we did not know about and roads were packed.
It was very dangerous to cycle and not safe for us so we stopped in Roquebourne for coffee and try to figure out what will be the best solution for us to avoid this madness. We knew that we need it to avoid the south of France, between the public holiday and summer it will be the same on all the Mediterranean sea and we do not want to cycle like this for the next 200km.
We then decided to take the train from Frejus to Savonna and on the way to the train station I realized that my Gopro was missing and the plastic that held the Gopro was broken, someone must had grab it and must had took him one seconde to go so as i did not see anything... Very pissed about it !!! We then took the train to Menton and from Menton to Ventimille. When we arrived in Ventimille they gave us a train ticket with no train number and we could not find where we should go, we tried to ask the unfriendly controller woman that just told us to look at the screen even tho we told her that we did not have train number. We spent quite a while to go up and downstairs to figure out where we shall go.
We then took the train to Savonna, 5 hours but it arrived with one hour delay and we reached Savonna at 10 pm, it was already dark and we could not find any hotel around so we stopped for Pizza and the only one that we found open was Pizza Istanbul !! ahahah when i told the guy that I was cycling there he thought I was was crazy.
We also tried the Italian beer of course!
We then tried to find a hotel once again, people on the street tried to help us but we could not find anything... We then cycled a bit further and the only hotel that we had found was full and they told us that every hotels were full 50km around savonna. We were condemned to spend the night outside. It was a very bad day but no one has been injured and that is the most important.
27 days on the road and over 2000km
Life is good when traveling the world, you are able to meet people from different country, taste different kind of food and see beautiful landscape. It has now been 27 days that i am on the Road and I ve just passed the 2000km.
Sometimes I am very tired of this Mapsme GPS that send me all the time to the highway.. Why ??? People started shouted at me and telling me that I was not allowed here... I know ! I am trying to get out of it.. I had to turn back behind the security barrier and damaged all my handle barre strap from my bicycle, i had to remove the bags from my bike, put them on the floor, going down with the bike, pick up the bags... and do this again and again for 1km... damn !!! I waste half of my battery to try to get out of Verona, no indication to go from A to B, I then tried to follow small roads to avoid traffic but people continue driving like crazy and It start no being safe for me. When I reached Padova I had maybe 12% battery left and I was getting lost again but I met Milo a Cyclist fan that was working on a tricycle bike making delivery. He offered me to join him on the train as he was going back to his home in Miestre and for the 30km left that I had to do, I did not mind to join him.
We had an Italian drink call Spritz ( Mousseu, Cynar, Lemon, water) Very refreshing. I then could stay by myself to his house and take shower while Milo had few things to do, That is soo great meeting people like this when you really need it.. Thank you.
I spent 2 and half days with Milo and his girlfriend and sometimes when while traveling you meet beautiful people, people that are just willing to help you without asking anything in return, people that are kind and generous and that what makes traveling so awesome, and that makes me to want to travel the world more and more. There is a quote that say: ''If you are scared about your dreams is because they are not big enough'' at this point my dream is to reach Istanbul and I already know inside of me that I will reach my goal no matter what. People like Milo are people that help you reaching your dream and help you to keep going. Never Give up ! Follow your dreams !
Massive hills to get out of Triste but I made it safe to Slovenia...I had only 25km more or less to cycle in Slovenia before to reach Croatia but I get caught in a Rain storm and i had to stopped for 45mn in a restaurant. I then arrived to the Croatian border and they are NOT friendly at all, Dead serious and no smile. I first asked the guy on the Slovenian border to stamp my passport as a souvenir but he refused, i asked the on the Croatian border and he accepted it. I will not cycle much today but went to 3 countries in one day.. ahhaha
Day 24: Cerovac to Ostro / 85km / 5H30
What a long day for only 85km ! Bloody hills, I thought i was back in Tajikistan, but the worst is the heat, it is sooo hot, that makes all the difference while cycling under 35 degres, it is easy to get dehydrated very quickly and I am now drinking nearly 10 liters of water per day.
While going downhill I felt that my breaks need it a little maintenance so I stopped in the bike shop in Matuji to fix my breaks a bit ( Bike Experience) http://www.bicikla.hr/
After 3 days in Croatia and a lot of hills and hot weather i need it a rest. I stooped at a restaurant on the side of the road as it was sooo hot and I was dying uphill, I was talking with my wife on the phone telling her that I need it to find a guesthouse for the night and rest for an entire day. Irvan heard me speak and straight away offer me his help, he said that he had a hotel in town and that he will give me the same price as the guesthouse.. waoooo sooo nice! The hotel was full so he offer me to stay to one of his friend s house for 13 euros/night, the full house for myself.
When you wake up at 6 am in your tent every morning, waking up at 8 am in a bed that feels so good. Since yesterday I ate my 750 g of pasta with beef, I normally do not eat beef but I need FOOD...I gonna eat as much as I can for the entire day and be ready to get back on the road.This little town is lovely, the apartment were I am staying is like 50 m to the sea, it is quiet and I feel like I would like to live here. No traffic and close to the sea, what else can you dream of?
I left Kastel Stari at 7 am this morning and it is always the same story, the earlier I am on the road and the better is it to avoid the heat. In Malaysia for example it is very hot as well but the weather is humid, here the condition are dry, it means that if you do not put enough sun cream you will be burning.
I have encountered few cyclists today including '' 4wheels3eyes'' 2 guys that are cycling from UK to Turkey to Fund raise for Homeless people. Homeless for the homeless. You can follow their cycling journey here at: https://www.4wheels3eyes.com/
Later on I will meet a German fella that is cycling from Germany to Montenegro to meet his aunty. We cycled few kilometers together and stopped for a swim (one of the best feeling in the world) Jumping in the sea after a long day on the bike.
After chilling out near the sea, we decided to carry on for another 20 km to reach a lake and try to find a Free camp spot for the night. Camping are pretty expensive in Croatia due to the numbers of tourists that are coming along and one night can cost you around 16 euros/night just to pitch your tent.
We found this beautiful spot in front the lake, but it was also in front a house and we did not know if it was a private property or not so we went and rang the bell to ask the owner if he did not mind that we spend the night here. We told him that we were very clean and that we will not leave anything behind us. That is one of the most important thing, if you decide to Free camp, you must make sure that you are not going to spoil the place, keep your rubbish in a plastic bag and wait the next day to find a bin to throw it somewhere.
It will be a very short time in Bosnia as there is only 17 km between the 2 borders. People are starting driving like crazy and we both hope that it is not gonna be like this all the way to Dubrovnik. We crossed like 10 super-cars on the road, never seen that many in one day, maybe there is a show case somewhere. There also were a woman by herself walking on the side of the road, as i was downhill i could not stop but i would had love to know where she was going and where she started from.
After only 15 km outside Kotor I had my 6th punctures since my departure from Les Sables d'Olonne. I have no idea what is going on with my patches!!! non of them stick to the tube and I can not fix it. My German fella went all the way to Budva (5 km) to go to the bike shop to buy me 2 extra tubes. Roads are extremely dangerous here, Tunnels with no lights, lots of cars, buses and trucks that are driving like you were not on the road. I almost got hit twice and I have heard Samuel screaming behind me as the car came so close to me, I FREAKED OUT !.
Samuel will stopped in Montenegro, I have asked him to follow me all the way to Turkey but I think that he is still young and maybe scared of the unknown. It is great to meet people like this on the road, to share our experiences and just be with someone for few days. When I reached Ulcin, I found a nice little campsite, the owner was very nice and told me, you can pay 7,50 euros for pitching your tent or if you want for 10 euros I can offer you a bed and a shower. hummm ! I did not think for very long and decided to take the room.
Many cyclists and few people that I met on the road told me to not bike from Ulcin to Tirane, that it was too dangerous and crowed with trucks. For once I will listen to them and decided to go to Ulcin bus station. That is a bit funny as I needed to wait the last moment to buy my ticket and see if i could bring my bike or not in the bus. Luckily the bus driver agreed otherwise I would have had to cycle all the way to Tirane and i would had not feel secure on the road.