Why Not? Cycling from The UK to Turkey

I guess I’ve always had itchy feet. Never satisfied in the same place or doing the same thing for too long. At university I studied for a year before changing to a different course. During my student days I had nine part time jobs and now at the age of 26 I have already dabbled in two different career paths. My insatiable appetite to try new things has led me to many unusual experiences, from playing underwater hockey to competing in the World Ultimate Frisbee Club Championships.

Despite ever-changing interests, a love of the outdoors and all things active has been a constant theme in my life. Over recent years I have embarked on a number of smaller adventures, cycling the UK coast-to-coast and trekking in Iceland and Norway to name a few. But I figure 2016 is the year to step it up a gear and I plan on setting off on my first ever 'big' adventure later this year. In August I will pedal away from the UK, attempting to cycle all the way across Europe to Istanbul.

'"Why?" is often people's first question after the usual, "You must be mad" or "Sounds awful" comments are out of the way. And to that I say, "Why not?". I've devoured so many books about other people's cycling adventures and slowly come to the realisation that the only difference between them and I is that they said, "Yes". While I was still sitting around dreaming they were out there experiencing the dream for themselves.

Picking a route was hard. How do you decide where to go when you can go anywhere you want? In the end I picked the start and the end and two places along the way and joined them up with straight lines. Looked pretty good to me! My route will take me through 13 countries give or take one or two. I will head south from the Netherlands, over the mighty Alps in Switzerland, along the coast of northern Italy, through the mountains of Slovenia to Budapest where I will bask in the thermal springs before heading South again through the unknowns of Serbia, Bulgaria and into Turkey. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies! 

Often when I tell people my plan they react with fear or concern, “But won’t it be dangerous on your own?” they ask horrified. I'll admit that solo female cyclists are a rare breed. And although I do my best to ignore them my parent’s worries do play on my mind at times. But I’ve done my research and many women have gone before me and experienced unprecedented levels of kindness and hospitality in all four corners of the globe. Really I think it is a fear of the unknown, after all my cycle to work through the busy Bristol streets can be pretty hairy and I don’t have people constantly worrying about that!  Naturally there will be some nerves about embarking on such a journey, but as the famous saying goes, ‘If you’re dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough’

Follow Megan's preparation over on her Instagram.

Laurie CraystonComment