(text & photos: Thomas Escot / @kirikito_)

Crossing a country on a solo bike.
To be able to live a human, sporting adventure, in total communion with nature.
This is the goal I have set myself for my 30th birthday.


This personal challenge, I decided to make it a project: to travel the Turkish Mediterranean coast by bike for 3 weeks.
Why Turkey? Above all, I was looking for a change of scenery, without crossing the globe. Having a mix of landscapes, meeting people easily, and let's face it, enjoying a great culinary culture.

I spent 6 months of quite intense physical, logistical and material preparation.
6 months to try to find the best possible packing, test my bivouac equipment, choose the right tent, the right panniers, understand my physical weaknesses, and anticipate any technical glitches.

This adventure in Türkiye is my first solo bike trip. I have been riding gravel bikes for 2 years now. I trained around my home, in the massifs of the Basque Country, with this desire to do battle a little more each day.

I found the last weeks of preparation endless.
I'm dying of impatience at the idea of ​​being there, and starting the first kilometers towards the unknown.

When I woke up the morning of departure, I asked myself several times "why are you doing this?", "why go alone in such a country by bike"? And then the excitement and the thirst for adventure took over.

I realized that these last 6 months of preparation were behind me, and that's it, I was finally there!
I was far from thinking that I was going to live the most intense adventure of my life.

That's it, it's the start! At Toulouse airport, the bike was carefully protected and packed in a cardboard box to ensure the best flight conditions to Turkey.
The handlebars, front wheel, pedals and saddle had to be removed. Tires deflated to avoid any risk of bursting.
It's time to board, destination: Istanbul.

Thomas' mount for this adventure.

I decide to spend 24 hours in Istanbul, located between Europe and Asia.

Here I am finally arrived at my first day of the trip, I connect my GPS which indicates km 0.
I realize that the adventure, the real one, has never been so close.
I send the first pedal strokes, happy as a kid on Christmas morning. I stop on the side of the road to buy the first provisions (fruits, vegetables) to secure my evening bivouac.

First positive elevations, 30°, 20kg of luggage. Ok, I realize what my next few weeks are really going to be like. And oddly I'm even more excited.

Excitement quickly gives way to anxiety. 6 p.m., first encounter with the Kengal dogs. I had read quite a few articles about these huge herding dogs.
70kg giants, which stand in front and surround you with real aggressiveness.

That evening, I found myself face to face with 3 of these wild dogs, I decided not to bivouac, and I opted to sleep with the locals.

The following days, I trace my route in the direction of the south along the Aegean Sea, in the middle of breathtaking landscapes.
Water management is quickly becoming one of my priorities. I sometimes cross no man's land, 80km without even crossing a cat. This is the adventure I was looking for, alone with myself, in a hostile environment.

The further south I go, the more beautiful the landscapes. I find sublime bivouac spots day by day (forest, sand dunes, mountains, olive groves)
I also realize that traveling by bicycle arouses the curiosity of many people, that's for sure.

I drive an average of 80 km/day, and impose on myself 2 days of break per week.
This heat asks me to redouble my energy. In the morning at 9 am, it is already 30°C.
I don't let go of my bike one inch, even during my days off. During my visit to Izmir, I spent the day discovering the city by bike, what a treat!

The Turkish campaigns are extraordinary by their beauty, and their desert coasts. But they are also for me the source of many misadventures, following several Kengal dog attacks.

I then lean on my satellite GPS to remodel the route of my trip.
I'll be honest with you, a real phobia was born in me. The fear of crossing these huge mastiffs becomes permanent and the trip begins to lose its magic... we have to act!

3/4 of my trip, I decide to take a ferry that takes me to Kos, a Greek island located a few km off the Aegean Sea.
I then spend 4 dream days on the island of Kos. 4 intense days both physically and emotionally.

Thanks to the Gravel bike, I managed to penetrate unimaginable places, to meet local populations as closely as possible, and to sleep in wild places, each crazier than the next.


The trip is coming to an end, and it is filled with emotions that I realize the intensity of this trip.
I went through moments of doubt, like moments of ecstasy. That's what makes a trip so beautiful.
I learned to listen to myself, and to move forward despite many reversals of situations.

I'll go back on a bike, that's for sure! In my opinion, this is the best way to discover a country, its wealth and its population.
Anyway, all I have to do now is find a new destination!

Trip accessories:

Topo Designs - Mountain Bike Bag


Isothermal Water Bottle United by Blue


To follow Thomas on Instagram: @kirikito_