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Stage Fifty Four - Sunday 22nd July 2012

Jagodina (Serb) to Durdevo (Serb) [font=arial][size=4]Well the storm broke in the late afternoon today and boy what a spectacular storm it was. Riding through it with bolts of lightning hitting the road ahead of me and igniting a small stumpy tree to my right I couldn't understand how it wasn't me being hit as nothing was higher than me on this road.[/size][/font] [font=arial][size=4]I thought of how I had escaped with my life so many times on this tour from being run off the road and managi

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Fifty Three - Saturday 21st July 2012

Bujmir (Serb) to Jagodina (Serb) It was hot and muggy today, the storm clouds are gathering, it's obvious that this is going to be a big one and with no waterproof clothing and not feeling well I could well be in for a torrid time. The question is will it break tonight or tomorrow when I'm out on the road? Today I made my way along the N road that for the most part shadowed the E75

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Fifty Two - Friday 20th July 2012

Brus (Serb) to Bujmir (Serb) A hot day and a typical day of searching for quieter roads and getting lost. Despite my better instincts I spent most of the day travelling east and passing through a plethora of small villages before eventually ending up on the 217 and into Bujmir I don't think I'll have much option now other than travelling on busier roads for the most part These out of the way paths may be traffic free but they can be hard going all day

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Fifty One - Thursday 19th July 2012

Kovizla (Serb) to Brus (Serb) A somewhat frustrating day. I spent most of the morning fixing my bike but it's still in a poor state, it is showing the war wounds of a long hard tour. Both wheels are well out of true and the rear wheel is hitting the brake-pads on every revolution. I hit an overhanging branch today and scratched my right eye; I now find I can't see out of it properly. My sore throat has gone full blown and I can't talk, it hurts to swallow and my neck is nearly as wide a

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Fifty - Wednesday 18th July 2012

Lukovo (Serb) to Kovizla (Serb) Wow! What a last 24 hours! I have been keeping a watchful eye out for signs warning of land mines before I venture into the forests to make camp but all too often the signs are hard to see as they are too low or even fallen over. Last night I looked carefully before making my way into the forest but could see no signs. I made camp some hundred metres into the forest after cooking up my evening meal beforehand and hanging my food in a bag from a nea

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Nine - Tuesday 17th July 2012

Kursumlija (Serb) to Lukovo (Serb) I'm struggling now. I'm suffering from a sore throat and fever. I'm also well off the beaten track. I also have to be careful here in the woods as by the tracks and markings I am clearly back in bear country, also wolves and wild boar. This really is a wild and beautiful place but I have noticed signs from time to time warning about land mines. When venturing into the woods to make camp I am searching out the wild boar paths and sticking to them.

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Eight - Monday 16th July 2012

Prokupije (Serb) to Kursumlija (Serb) Today was considerably cooler than yesterday 28 degrees instead of the 35 degrees of yesterday and boy did I appreciate the difference. For the most part I followed a small river west and enjoyed a cooler breeze coming from the north. I am now quite close to the Serbian/Kosovo border and it is wild mountainous country. I have twenty days to make it to Vienna and then four days of easy street, I just hope I make it.

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Seven - Sunday 15th July 2012

Nis (Serb) to Prokupije (Serb) I didn't feel too well today, I think the heat got to me. Today was in the high 30's and I found myself constantly getting dizzy and swerving on the bike so took plenty of rests along the course which slowed progress down somewhat. I have spent the day making my way along the quiet little roads that connect up the little villages north of the E-80 As I camp in the woods tonight I can clearly see I have some seriously mountainous terrain ahead of me

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Six - Saturday 14th July 2012

Mountains west of Beles (Srb) to 10km outside Nis (Srb) Today was an eventful day. Even though I had camped in the shade of a wood last night I awoke this morning hot and saturated with sweat and shaking. I’m not sure if I’m coming down with something or going through withdrawal but I felt rough. Today was quite the contrast in terms of cycling terrain. The morning was spent on mountain paths and then in the afternoon I was back on some busy roads. It was on one of these roads (the

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Five - Friday 13th July 2012

Sofia (Bul) to Mountain paths to the west of Beles (Srb) After spending the previous day searching the city for clothes in vain It felt good to be on the move and leaving Bulgaria behind me. I followed the busy 8 and crossed the border at “Kalotina” and made my way through “Dimitrovgrad” before taking a left after “Beles” to escape this busy and dangerous road. I made an alarming discovery today. When going to take my heart medication I noticed that the packet I keep in my bar bag for c

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Four - Wednesday 11th July 2012

Belovo (Bul) to Sofia (Bul) It was hot today and dry so I managed to dry out my tent and clothes after the storm yesterday. I made my way along the N roads that for all the world looked as if they had been abandoned. The route for much of the day was more off road than on. I checked into the "Art Hostel" which seems quite expensive for what it is but I really have no choice as this is most likely my last chance to get clothes and a pannier. I really don't fancy going through yeste

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Three - Tuesday 10th July 2012

Plovdiv (Bul) to Belovo (Bul) It felt good to be leaving Plovdiv and putting some distance between myself and that bad experience. It was a pleasant and warm day but humid as I made my way along the 8 and through “Pazardjik” but as I approached "Belovo" the skies went a dark blue and the heavens opened. I quickly ran for cover into the woods but by the time I had erected my tent I was soaked. I have wrung out as much water as I can out of my clothes and will just have to wear them wet

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty Two - Monday 9th July 2012

Plovdiv (Bul) I couldn't sleep last night as the events of the previous day kept churning away in my head. So I got up at first light (a little after 5:00am) and cycled the city and southern suburbs for chance the pannier might have been discarded but alas to no avail. I headed back to the hostel some four hours later and had breakfast before cycling back to the police station to finish off the reports. I then spent the day cycling all over the city and out of town shopping areas for

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty One - Sunday 8th July 2012

Bjala Reka (Bul) to Plovdiv (Bul) DISASTER! After making my way along the busy 8 and through “Debar”, “Popovista”, “Sadovo”, and onto the outskirts of “Plovdiv” I stopped briefly at a supermarket to replenish my supplies. In the short time the bike was out of my sight one of the rear panniers was stolen. It contained a few odds and ends as well as all my clothes. I have now lost all my Gore-Tex rain gear and changes of clothing. All I now possess (clothes wise) is the shorts, socks, vest an

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Forty - Saturday 7th July 2012

Xapmaham (Bul) to Bjala Reka (Bul) Another hot day but thunder and lightning were always close by. I continued on the busy 8 and passed through “Stoykova”, Podkrepa”, and the larger “Haskovo”, then through “Klokotnitsa”, “Gorski izvor” and Varbitsa”. The storm eventually broke as I passed through “Bjala Reka” where I dived for cover in the corner of a corn field in the shade of a hedgerow where I made camp for the night. Hopefully this busy road will be quieter on Sunday.

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Nine - Friday 6th July 2012

Ormenio (GR) to Harmanli (Bul) Well I wasn't in Greece long before the route took me back into Bulgaria and its confusing signs. Another suspicious border check as the customs officer found my story of cycling to Istanbul and back hard to believe, at least this one wasn’t as thorough and time consuming as the last one. A nice thing happened out on the road today. As I was cycling down the 8 in Bulgaria a young man on a scooter with his girlfriend riding pillion signalled for me to pull

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Eight - Thursday 5th July 2012

Havsa (Tur) to Ormenio (Gr) After cycling through “Edirne” I made for the quieter crossing just beyond “Karaagac”. This was a tense border. I wasn’t allowed to take photos but the army on both sides patrolled it fully armed and watched each other intently from behind sandbags and the sights of their automatic guns. These two old adversaries may now be at peace but it was abundantly obvious that trust was still in short supply. This was the first time I had to empty my panniers and be

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Seven - Wednesday 4th July 2012

Marmaracik (Tur) to Havsa (Tur) Today was hot. Over 40c and boy does that sap your strength! On the upside this was a considerably easier stretch of road than the one I came in on, a nice wide hard shoulder gave me some breathing space from the fast moving traffic. I stayed on the D100 and passed through “Vakiflar”, “Luleburgaz”, “Babaeski” and on into “Havsa” Where I had had simply enough of oppressive heat. I think I am now within striking distance of Greece and should cross the borde

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Six - Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Silviri (Tur) to Marmaracik (Tur) Retracing my steps and trying to find a route along the coast and avoiding the busy and potentially lethal main road. I made my way through “Seymen” and on to “Corlu” before reaching “Marmaracik. The next town would be a further 30km away and after the slow progress of the earlier part of the day I decided to stop here, the plan being to rest up and make a big push tomorrow.

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage 35 Monday 2nd July 2012

Istanbul (Tur) to Silviri (Tur) My luck was in. I managed to get a new front rack fitted and replace all the other worn out components. I was now confident of having a fighting chance of making it back. By the time my bike was ready it was 11:30 but I remembered a hotel I had passed on the cycle ride in and it was only 77km away so I decided to make my way for that. It seemed strange cycling into the setting sun rather than watching my shadow grow as evening fell. However the strong h

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Four - Sunday 1st July 2012

Buyukgekmecie (Tur) to Istanbul (Tur) I cycled into the city on the hair-raising main road and searched for a bike shop to make some vital repairs. Unfortunately the only bike shop that serves touring cyclists that I can find is closed today (on Sunday). So I decided to find a cheap hotel and come back tomorrow. One way or another I have to get my bike sorted out as there is absolutely no chance of it making it home in its current state. It was nice to ramble around the Old Town in the

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Three - Saturday 30th June 2012

Saray (Tur) to Buyukgekmece (Tur) Well after 33 days, 3,889.2km and 45,778 metres of climbing I am now on the outskirts of Istanbul Today was tough as the roads are busy and simply not safe to cycle on so I find myself for the most part cycling on the verve beside the road. I made my way through “Cerkezkoy”. “Celtic”, “Silviri”, “Selimpasa”, “Kumburgaz” and on to “Buyukgekmece” On one of the rougher sections of road today my right front rack, which was in a pretty bad state complet

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

 

Stage Thirty Two - Friday 29th June 2012

Kirklareli (Tur) to Saray (Tur) Today was hot and I really felt it. Turkey is having a heatwave and it hit 45c out on the road today. The roads too are a concern, very busy with precious little room between me and the high speed traffic that whizzes by. Every time a truck comes up behind me they honk their horn and my only option is to pull in off the road. The constant stopping and starting is making progress slow and it’s only going to get worse as I close in on Istanbul. I stayed on

Sean Barker

Sean Barker

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