Over March and April of 2011 we cycled the 1300km from Istanbul to Trabzon along the Black Sea coast over three weeks. The route is a popular one for people heading towards Iran and Georgia from Istanbul. Here are a few of the things we picked up along the way that may help other cyclists considering this route.
- Food from mini markets and water from roadside springs are readily available so there is no need to carry supplies for multiple days
- Most small villages we passed through had a cay shop where in early spring time a warm stove was lit. These are perfect for drying out wet tents and other camping equipment
- Cay shops also provide a great place for a sheltered picnic lunch when the weather outdoors is wet and cold. Make sure to always ask permission to eat your own food though in our case this request was never refused
- At the time we passed through some of the minor road was being upgraded to a four lane highway. This may mean long stretches of road works generating dust and maybe mud if the weather is wet
- Most petrol stations have cay available and as with cay everywhere it is likely to be offered free for tired cyclists
- On our map the coast road from Zonguldak to Bartin was marked as scenic and looked flat but included coal mines, a few very steep busy hills in Zonguldak and no particularly scenic views. According to a fellow cyclist we met the inland D750 road is apparently busier but includes only one gradual climb and a long descent over 20km or so towards Bartin
- From Samsun onwards free camping options along the main road are limited but head inland a kilometre or so to the hazelnut groves and you may find a quiet grassy spot
The scenery doesn’t rival the more majestic Central Anatolian riding we did last year and given the option we would head for the high plateau. Bearing this in mind, the facilities and beach access on this challenging coast makes for an easier year-round route to the East of Turkey.
As fellow long-distance cyclist Ryan Davies tweeted about the Black Sea coast route, there’s nothing to do but ‘dominate those hills!’