We wanted to do a Gran-daddy ride in preparation for our almighty Gran-daddy ride and the iconic jaunt from Land’s End to John O’Groats seemed the obvious one to do.
I stared at a map of Europe looking for an alternative. We had never visited the Balkans before. I knew you could fly direct to Dubrovnik from London and then scanned across the map to Istanbul. Google said there’s roughly 1200km of road between those points so I pitched it to Shell.
She replied with her customary “eeep” of fear so I made up a little lie about the extent of climbing on the route and she said “yes!”
Researching the route mostly involved using Strava’s route search tool to see what was ridden before. I also scanned cycle touring blogs looking for anecdotes of which there were hardly any.
It soon become clear covering the whole distance was going to be a stretch and most of the bloggage I found were by touring cyclists saying the route from the Greek or Bulgarian border to Istanbul was a bit of a nightmare punctuated by massive six-lined highways with only narrow shoulders for riding so I tweaked our plan to ride to the Greek-Turkish border instead and then hope to get a bus the rest of the way.
This would see us riding around 1000km in two weeks. Doable but we had never previously ridden on fully laden tourers.