Total Bike Forever // Istanbul To Baku // #5

Istanbul to Baku

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With the sounds of our festival-set still ringing in our ears, we hot-footed it back to Istanbul, ready to crack on into the heart of Turkey. Having read and heard many great things about this magical land it was time to see what the fuss was about. Would we be disappointed?…….Not a chance.

Turkey has by far and away been the number one country of the trip so far. If there’s one thing that makes it so special, it’s the people. Kind and hospitable doesn’t even begin to cover it. Lashings of local tea, buckets of food and the countless smiles, everywhere has the feeling of a home away from home.

Pedalling on from Istanbul getting back into our stride after a few weeks on and off the bikes we made our most significant musical discovery to date.

Rolling down a steep mountainous decline, the din of a drum kit grew louder in our ears. Hot & bothered in the afternoon sun, we thought we might be hearing things. To our surprise and delight, we were not. Perched on the edge of a cliff, drumsticks in hand sat Berkay, drumming away with computer-like precision. Before we knew it, synths were out of panniers and were jamming on the mountainside.

This fateful yet random meeting ended up shaping the course of our adventure through Turkey. We arranged to play again together, this time in a breathtaking mountain location with a production crew to document the experience. This kind of interaction was exactly what we hoped would happen whilst we hatched the plan to write music around the world so, naturally, we had to do it… the only catch: Cycle 1,000km in 10 days to arrive at the filming locations in time. It was time to put our foot down.

Despite zipping along the coast towards Trabzon we still had time to make it in a local newspaper, write music on the Amasran coastline at sunset and drink 3,000 cups of cay along the way. Arriving in Trabzon our crew assembled. We headed off into the mountains for two of the most mind-blowing days of the trip so far.

Pushing along at this speed showed us what we could really do and how strong the legs have become. It wasn’t all plain sailing; Tim took a tumble on a rain-lashed mountainside and we headed to the hospital in Pinarbashi for some stitches. The fastest route is never the most scenic and by the end of 7 straight days of a motorway that felt like the same stretch of tarmac over and over again, we were definitely ready to get off the bikes & play some music.

The first day saw us jamming into the night at the Baksi Museum. With its breathtaking location for a muse, music blared into the valley below us as the sun went down. The next day we headed to Artvin, a site of spellbinding beauty with jaw-dropping ravines as far as the eye could see. Another perfect spot to compose.

We said farewell to our crew later that evening, pinching ourselves a few to times to check it all really happened. But as the dust settled we knew Georgia was around the corner. It was time to say goodbye to Turkey.

Georgia certainly packs a punch. The mountains are big, the weather is extreme and the drinking is hard. A testament to that was one particular session in the mist of the Godzeri Pass downing Cognac and singing Beatles songs at the top of our voices with the local policeman.

Temperatures soared as we heading east through the valleys of Borjomi towards the capital city: Tbilisi. After a few sweltering days here we set our sights on Azerbaijan – a country we knew next to nothing about… but we weren’t to be disappointed. Turkish charm returned with cay back on the menu and everyone wanting to hear about our journey.

The landscape slowly changed from lush green mountains to dense forests and finally to deserts, which meant one thing, we were nearing Baku, the Caspian Sea and the arid terrain of the far side.

And so ends another wonderful chapter on this journey, with central Asia and the Pamir Highway on the horizon, things are about to get very interesting.

Enjoy our photos below and remember, #adventuremore