Welcome to our Cycle Touring Videos from our France to China cycle trip, Canada trip and other cycle trips. I hope you enjoy them. The photos and videos are shot on a GoPro Hero 2, a Lumix GF1 camera and an iphone SE.
This is where the journey began at Sty Foy ski station in the Alps! We were working a ski season in the French Alps, when Kelly was in a ski accident, and was no longer able to ski, run, walk, or do anything, except cook and eat. The doctor advised her, that cycling would be good rehab for the knee… and so, with that, the idea of cycling to China was born. With absolutely no experience, next to no planning, and several injuries, we headed off – feeling… confident! Lucky for us the first few days were all down hill, followed by the rest of the week conquering 2 mountains passes. Read more about our cycle trip through France.
When we made it to Italy, we knew that we would be able to make it the whole way to China – despite what others thought. This was the first country we cycle the whole way across. Read more about our cycle across Italy.
The first 5000km from France to China
Unfortunately, we lost all our original video footage from the first half of our trip. This happened at some point during the trip, but we didn’t realise until we got home, and by this time it was too late to do much about it. We did however manage to retrieve this video about the first 5000km cycling through France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Iran. Click on the country name to read more about our cycle trip through those countries.
We didn’t know what to expect when cycling through Iran, but as soon as we crossed the border from Turkey, we were welcomed by friendly and extremely generous people. A day didn’t go by where we weren’t given gifts of fresh fruit, water, smiles and waves. One of the hottest, but also one of my favourite countries on the cycle trip.
Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
We were only able to get a 5 day transit visa for Turkmenistan, which meant 5 days to cycle 600km across a very hot desert on a very bad road. Luckily, we made it to the border in time. After Turkmenistan was Uzbekistan. The most challenging country during our cycle trip. Bad roads, injured dogs, boring scenery, a killer headwind, but some amazing people. Read more about our adventures in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan
When we arrived into Kyrgyzstan we were greeted with smooth highways, beautiful scenery and lots of cows, oh and mountains. We made it to Bishkek, and then from there cycled into the last Stan of the trip, Kazakhstan. Read more about our adventures in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a cycling nomad? This video gives a glimpse into the life of a cycle tourist, while we cycled through the Kazakh desert, during our France to China cycle trip.
Other Cycle Touring Videos
The cycle journey started on 27th June 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We then spent the next 3.5 months cycling 7000km across Canada to Halifax. The cycle trip took us through the Rocky Mountains, the Prairie lands, the lake lands of Ontario, French Canada and finally the Maritimes.
We decided to take a photo every 100km that we cycled across Canada. The idea was to put the photos together as a slide show in the hope that it will give a perspective of how the Canadian landscape changes coast to coast. I think it definitely puts the prairies and also Ontario into perspective in terms of distance. The road quality also changes drastically. In total we cycled 7000km across the country.
After spending the winter in Halifax, we were ready to start the next leg of our cycle trip, cycling to the US! This video is about our last week in Canada, cycling from Halifax to the US border.
Cycling the USA
Michael and I, entered the USA in Maine, then headed down the coast to Boston. We spent about 3 weeks cycling in New England, before heading West to New York state. From there we had a ‘slight’ change in plan!
We spent 6 weeks cycling around Nicaragua in Central America, during the wet season. Friendly people, awesome beaches and some surprisingly cycle-friendly paths and roads.
It was a little tourist haven, with good (vegetarian) food, coffee and plenty of English speakers. Plus of course, I didn’t have to spend any time on a bicycle. It was nice to be back in the backpacking/ tourist world, if only for a short time. It was time to start cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey. We were on a tight schedule to get to Erzurum to sort out our Iranian visas, which meant a lot of kilometers in a very hot climate (35-40 degrees) and over several very high mountain passes, with no rest days.
Looking back now, the cycle to Erzurum was pretty uneventful.
We woke up at 5am each morning, cycled until midday, rested for a few hours under some shade, then continued cycling from 5pm until about 8pm, or until we found a nice, decent gas station, with a garden out the back to set up camp. We did this for 9 days straight. Over 750km cycled, including 4 mountain passes. The most eventful thing that happened was sleeping in a mosque in a small village called Surhan. All the village locals invited us for dinner, and after dinner we slept in the study room of the mosque.
By the time we got to Erzurum we were pretty knackered and very much over cycling. We had planned to stay in Erzurum a few days with a couchsurfer, Saadet. I am very glad we did. It was one of the best couchsurfing experiences I’ve had. We rested, got to eat some yummy home-cooked, Turkish food and recover. One thing I love about couchsurfing – seeing how locals live and learning about the culture. I learnt so much from Saadet! She was very open to talking about religion and politics, which can sometimes be ‘touchy’ subjects.
I was even sadder to leave Erzurum than Cappadocia – but Iran was calling, and we still had another 350km before reaching the Iranian border. It was time to continue cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey.
Cycling in Kurdistan
Leaving Erzurum and entering the Kurdish part of Turkey was almost like entering a new country. The roads got worse, the villages seemed poorer and the kids were little shits. Overall, there was just a negative vibe in the air. I noticed a lot of younger people staring at us with disapproving eyes. Some even gave us the finger or yelled out, “fuck you”, while others started chanting “money, money, money” before, after or whilst throwing rocks at us. Obviously, not all Kurdish people were dicks, there were still some really nice, friendly people in Kurdistan. Strangely, I found that usually the older the person, the friendlier they were.
The second day cycling in the Kurdish region was probably one of the worst cycle days to date. The route from Horasan to Eleskirt, unknown to us, had the highest mountain pass (2200m) of the trip so far. If we were cycling this in daylight on an autumn day, then maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, however we started the ascent in the late evening. This was my fault, as I didn’t feel comfortable wild camping in the valley (which was our original plan), and I underestimated the steepness of the mountain. So we made the ascent at the end of an already, very long cycle day, in the pitch black of night, with crappy torches that weren’t working and on a shit road, with a narrow hard shoulder.
I got a bad vibe in the area and could hear whispers coming from the valley.
It was clear that there were people hanging around in the valley, even though there were no towns nearby. We eventually made it to the top of the pass, surprised to find the mountain pass sign, and even more surprised to be approached by a Turkish truck driver whom had parked at the top of the pass. He had been waiting for us to arrive at the top. He clearly was not happy, and started yelling out “Problem. Problem.” followed by some Turkish words I didn’t understand. Luckily, Michael speaks some Turkish, so we managed to make some sense of it all.
He told us, that the area between Erzurum and Dogubayazit was extremely dangerous. The PKK extremist Kurdish, terrorist group operated in the area. He then went on to tell us that he had once been held up at gunpoint in the area. Basically, he scared the shit out of us. After what seemed like a very long 10 minutes, he said he would follow us down the mountain pass, in his truck, to a military checkpoint, about 3km away, where he said we could camp. It was the shittest downhill cycle ever. I couldn’t even make out a meter in front of me. That on top of it being a extremely shitty road, full of pot holes and gravel. We didn’t expect these types of challenges while cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey.
Eventually we made it to the military base.
Words were exchanged between our truck driver the military soldiers. We were then escorted into the base, where we had tea and chocolates. The military told us that the area was not that bad anymore. That only the traffic is a dangerous. This was followed by being told we could camp at a gas station another 3 km down the hill. Our truck driver escort had already left by this stage, so we had to make the final descent by ourselves. Unfortunately the road didn’t improve. I have never been so happy to see a gas station. The owners were lovely, they gave us tea and let us set up camp. They seemed like genuinely nice (Kurdish) people.
I’m not sure whether the area really had PKK activity or not, but I am certain the truck driver believed we were in danger. It definitely put us on edge for the next few cycle days.
Dodging flying hubcaps
It wasn’t until we reached Agri the following day that we experienced, the infamous, ‘rock-throwing’ children (just what you want while cycling in the summer heat). So not only did we have shepherd’s dogs to worry about, we now had ‘rock-throwing’ children, aged as young as 3 years to about 15 years. The worse incident was about 10km outside of Agri. A child decided to launch a hubcap at us from the back of a moving truck. It narrowly missed our heads. By this stage I was over Kurdistan, and looking very forward to getting to Iran, where I heard the people were lovely.
For the past 4 weeks we had been cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey during Ramadan, an Islamic religious event, where muslims fast during the day. Obviously it made it a little awkward to get food or drink, or to eat and drink in public during the day. The day we arrived in Dogubayazit was the first day of Ramadan Byram, a festive holiday following the end of Ramadan. It seemed a bit like Halloween, only kids roam the streets during the day and night, looking for lollies and sweets.
As it turned out, it was possibly the worse day of the year to cycle into a city in Kurdistan. I have never in my life thought I would have to escape mobs of kids, screaming “money, money, money,” throwing the occasional rock, or attempting to slap one of us across the face. It was not a fun experience! We quickly found a cheap hotel (Hotel Isfahan), where the staff were extremely fr
iendly, and no kids were allowed. We then got stuck in Dogubayazit for the next 4 days, as we needed to withdraw dollars and euros from the bank for Iran (as you can’t use ATM’s in Iran), and the banks were closed for holidays. I could think of better places to be trapped.
A run for the border
After 4 days, we finally got money and were able to make our way to the border, only 35km away. We thought by this stage we would be in the clear of the rock throwing kids. Until, I by chance read about teenagers attempting to attack cyclists crossing from Dogubayzit to the Iranian border. Not with just rocks, but with chains. The fun times keep coming. We thought it would be safest to head off early in the morning, before anyone would be awake, to avoid bumping into these teenagers. In hindsight this was stupid and it would have been safer to wait until midday when all the roads get busier.
The biggest concern for us was that we were carrying so much money. All the money to last us in Iran. I’m not sure whether the locals in this area would know that or not – I hope they don’t. We were lucky, and didn’t have any problems. Though, it could have been a different story. As we were cycling through one town, at about 7am, there was no traffic on the road, at all. I have actually never seen the roads so quiet. I spotted some teenager shepherds just off the road; as they spotted us, they got up and walked on to the road.
There were 3 of them, and they all walked with long metal polls.
There was something about them that was very suspicious. One boy walked to the other side of the road. This meant we would have to cycle through the middle of them. I started cycling further out into the road, as there was no chance I was going to let that happen. Other than that, there was nothing that we could do except cycle fast, don’t stop, and hope they don’t try anything. We cycled around them, they eyed us, and hesitated. We said “hello”, continued cycling, and luckily nothing happened. I was relieved to finally reach the border. Crossing the border into Iran was no problem, and within 30 minutes we were through passport control and customs, and safely in Iran. I could not have been happier!!
Overall we did enjoy cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey, unfortunately there were just a few incidents that made it a little difficult.
Note for cyclists headed the same route while cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey:
*** There is a town about 10-15km from the border called Asagi Tavia, if you are planning on cycling through this town please take care. Though the teenagers didn’t try it with us, they did act very strange, and were holding big metal polls. I’m sure it’s not long before they actually try something on with cyclists, particularly if you are by yourself. I’ve also heard other reports of cyclists getting attacked in this area. ***
Cycling the Silk Road in Eastern Turkey stats:
Money found on the road: Michael – 108 lira ($53) vs. Me – nothing
Kilometers cycled in Turkey: 2300km
Total km: 4400km
Time spent in Turkey: 6 weeks
Total days: 104 days
Punctures: Michael – we’ve lost count, but at least 23 vs. Me – 2
Accommodation: x4 nights Couchsurfing, x1 night mosque, x4 nights hotel, x1 pension/ guesthouse, wild camping (mostly at gas stations)
We have been cycling one of the ancient trade route from the 1200s, famously known as the Silk Road. This trade route runs straight through Central Anatolia, where towns are few and far between and the weather and terrain can be hot and harsh. We started in the port town of Cesme, and made our way east through Selcuk, where we started cycling the Silk Road in Turkey to Pamukkale, then continued further east to Konya, then to Goreme in Cappadocia. From there we plan on continuing on the Silk Road all the way to Erzurum in the east of Turkey.
The Silk Road diminished when traders discovered boat routes were quicker, however remnants of the ancient Silk Road can still be found along the way. Our most recent discovery was an old caravanserai in Sultanhani in the Central Anatolia. Traditional caravans (wagons and donkeys) are rarely seen anymore. BUT, the ancient route is still largely used by the modern trader – the truck!
This region is largely an agricultural region.
We have cycled passed, cherry and apricot orchards, wheat, sunflower, tea and opium fields (a quarter of the world’s legal opium comes from the region), olive groves and rice and sugar paddies (just to name a few). We have also passed a few refugee camps. This was a bit of a surprise, as we are still so far from the Syrian and Iraq borders. I presume we will only see more of these camps, the further east we go. (Update: this was in 2014 before the mass movement of refugees from Syria to Europe really began).
We have been in Turkey for a few weeks now.
So far the generosity of people has been overwhelming, and at times even uncomfortable. I’m certain that if more people could be as friendly and giving as some of the people I’ve met in Turkey, then the world would be a better place. A day doesn’t go by without several offers of tea or fruit, and the occasional offer of dinner, snacks, a bed, a shower (yes, we probably do smell), coffee and even laundry – in a washing machine (a luxury for us, as we end up having to hand wash the majority of the time). This along with many waves, smiles, “hellos.” And the occasional confused/ interested stare. We are definitely getting more attention cycling through Turkey, than cycling through Italy.
One thing I will take away from the last few weeks
If I ever see a cycle tourist in Australia, I will try and be as generous and helpful as some of the people that have helped me out on this trip. I will also not honk the horn a hundred times, scaring the shit out of the cyclist, just to say “hello”.
Despite all this, there have been a few incidences where I have been bluntly ignored, and all the questions have been directed at only Michael. The most common is, “what’s your name?”, directed to Michael, with no interest in what my name is. Whether this is because I speak no Turkish, and Michael speaks a little, or whether it’s because I’m a female, I cannot say for certain, but I have my suspicions. Either way, I think most independent women will find this quite insulting and frustrating, as do I. Luckily, this isn’t the norm, and in fact, Turkey is a largely liberal Islamic country. Though, with that being said, I wouldn’t suggest walking around the rural regions wearing a mini skirt and tight top.
Truck drivers, friend not foe!
The other biggest surprise for me are the truck drivers… oddly, I’m beginning to feel a sense of connection with them. When I first started cycling, I dreaded anything bigger than a car, whizzing passed me. If I heard a truck coming, I would brace myself by gripping the handlebars and holding on for dear life. Now, I happily wave or nod at the passing truck, as they pass waving or giving a friendly honk.
So, why do I feel a sense of connection, with these truck drivers? What can cyclists and truck drivers possibly have in common? Well, we’re both on the road for days on end, spending each night in a different place, most likely without showers or a proper beds. We both tend to use garages/ gas stations/ servos as rest spots or to escape the heat of the day, or to set up camp for the night. Daily we are interacting with people from all over different regions/ countries. And, finally, we both have similar schedules for being on the road – early morning cycle, rest during the day, and late afternoon back on the road. I guess we both also go very slowly up steep hills, and are dragging a bunch of crap behind us.
Entering a new world
Cycling the Silk Road in Turkey has so far been completely different to any other country we have cycled in during this trip. The roads tend to be crapper (a bit like Albania). The mini bus drivers are crazy, and keep you on your toes (also like the drivers in Albania). But, the most challenging difference is that the towns are so far apart. We sometimes go days without seeing a bakery or supermarket, and end up relying on market stalls or garage shops for food. Luckily, there are plenty of garages about, usually every 10-20km, and there we can fill up on water, as well as snacks. Days are long, and rest days are few. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and we are going to come out of this as strong as an ox (especially our thighs).
Cycling the Silk Road in Turkey Statistics:
Days spent in Turkey: 17 days
Kilometers cycled in Turkey (so far): 1000km
Total kilometers: 3300km
Punctures: Me – 2, Michael – 8
Accommodation: 2 nights in a hostel, 1 night in a guesthouse, 2 nights in a cheap hotel, 1 night as a guest in the home of the gas station owner, 11 nights wild camping (mostly outside of garages).
Treats: Me – coconut chocolate bars, ice cream. Michael – still helva (gross). Both of us – any cold drink we can get our hands on (our fave is lemon and mint juice).
Record number of invitations for tea (cay) in one day: about 8 (yep, we really are that popular).