How far can I ride my bicycle? Is it possible to cycle from Germany to Türkiye without having a lot of bikepacking experience? Can I do this trip to Istanbul without taking a sabbatical?
These have been the questions I asked myself at the beginning of this year. I knew I wanted to experience a new adventure, but would it be possible without taking a long sabbatical? After this spark came into my mind, I could not let it go.
So, I started to do a lot of research – Which bicycle do I need? What would be the perfect route? Whom could I convince to join me?
After spending a lot of time searching on Google and Netflix, I was pretty sure: Yes, it is possible! With a lot of enthusiasm, I was even able to convince a friend of mine to join me. Furthermore, persuading my supervisor was not a big challenge since she really liked the idea and even encouraged me to go on this trip. After I had told my family, friends and my team about my plan – finally there was no way back.
On 26th August, my friend and I started our bicycle journey from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We conquered the Alps and reached the beautiful coast of Croatia after one week.
The daily routine was a totally new one: Wake up – Cycle – Eat – Cycle – Rest – Eat – Find a wild camping site – Prepare dinner (mostly noodles) – Sleep.
The days passed like that, and we came closer and closer to our destination. After three weeks on the road (which varied between busy highways and muddy paths), we finally reached the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul. Even though our bodies were tired and exhausted from the hundreds of kilometers of constant cycling, our minds were feeling overwhelmed with joy, happiness and pride.
Expressing our journey in some facts & figures:
- Total distance: 2,454 km
- Total ascent: 26,912 m
- Days on the bike: 22
- Crossed countries: 12 (Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Greece, Türkiye)
- Average speed: 19,2 km/h
- Maximum speed: 73,4 km/h
- Number of flat tires: 6 (all in Greece)
- Number of falls from the bicycle: 0
Apart from these figures - this journey was so much more. Travelling by bicycle means you are moving at the perfect speed to live in the moment. On the one hand, you see beautiful landscapes and on the other hand you can get in close contact with the locals. This is also what I enjoyed the most – you don’t feel like a tourist anymore. And even though the locals might not speak your language – there is always an easy way to communicate – smile.
Looking back on the trip now, I have found answers to all the questions I have been asking myself before: Yes, you can go everywhere by bicycle. You just must simply start. And with a great team you don’t even need a sabbatical for it.