Book A Cycling Tour
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on LinkedIn Share on Email
Pioneers – Leg 8 – Istanbul to Çandır 2019

Pioneers – Leg 8 – Istanbul to Çandır 2019

Who are the Pioneers?

All the riders who have participated in any of the very first seven legs of our UK to Sydney adventure are in an exclusive club called the ‘Ride25 Pioneers’.  Each year the Pioneers will be invited to complete the next leg for the very first time and raise money for 1moreChild.  Pioneers help to define the journey and adventure to Sydney.

2019 is Leg 8 (of 25 legs) from the UK to Sydney.  To get a flavour of the previous legs see the most recent films here:

Leg 7 – Thessaloniki to Istanbul

Leg 6 – Bari to Thessaloniki

Leg 5 – Rome to Bari

Leg 4 – Milan to Rome

Leg 3 – Geneva to Milan


Snapshot of Leg 8

  • Leaving the madness of Istanbul on cycle paths alongside the Sea of Marmara
  • Open countryside, wilderness, endless views, lakes & wildlife
  • No motorways!
  • Altitude, mountains and long descents
  • Brilliant hotels with indoor and outdoor pools, hammams & massages
  • Simple, rural ways of life
  • Variable road surfaces
  • Final party in Central Ankara


Istanbul Seafront – 8.00 Thursday 20th June 2019


Çandır – 17.00 Sunday 23rd June 2019.  Buses to Ankara – 60 mins journey.

Days Cycling:



390 miles

Total climbing:

31,431 ft climbing

Max capacity:

100 people


Dates of the trip

We have moved the trip to late June as we spend over half the cycling time at an altitude of > 2,500 ft and a peak altitude of 5,400ft.  Cycling in late June increases the chances of great weather conditions but no guarantees!

We will be cycling for 4 days from Thursday 20th June to Sunday 23rd June 2019 inclusive.  You will need to arrive in Istanbul on Wednesday 19th June and leave Ankara on or after Monday 24th June 2019.

The extra benefit of a later trip is some UK training in better weather.  We will have a training ride on Saturday 18th May in the Henley-on-Thames  area – put it in your diaries.

Pre- Start – Istanbul 7.30pm 19th June 2019

Drinks (pay bar!) at the roof top restaurant, restaurant and pool at the pre-start hotel (The DoubleTree Hilton) on the night before the ride. It will be a great opportunity to pick up your shirts and see everyone again before the cycling begins the next morning.  Please note, unusually the hotel accommodation is included on the night before we leave Istanbul.


Day 1 – Istanbul to Sapanca 94 miles 6,167 ft total ascent

Our Grand Depart will be a short walk from the Double Tree Hilton Hotel on the seafront overlooking the Sea of Marmara. We will initially enjoy 20 miles of almost entirely traffic free cycle paths along the sea through various parks.  We then cycle through the suburbs on the outskirts of Istanbul before the countryside opens up, the roads get quieter and the climbing starts.  We are treated to an amazing descent into Izmit for a late lunch in a turkish grill restaurant on the seafront. After more traffic free paths through Izmit we finish the day cycling along the south of Sapanca Lake. Home for the night is a 5* Wellness Spa Hotel overlooking the lake.

Day 1 – Full route including elevation profile & GPX Export.


Day 2 – Sapanca to Bolu – 95 miles, 8,561 ft total ascent

We begin by cycling along the lake on cycle paths. After leaving the outskirts of Sapanca and Sakarya we cycle on ever quieter roads as we start climbing into the mountains.  From sea level we reach 4,500 ft elevation by mid afternoon as we cycle through a forested area renowned for brown bears, gazelles and wild boar.  An early lunch is at a local trout farm in the hills – one of very few places to eat. The afternoon stop is a cafe on beautiful Lake Abant.  Home for the night is a quirky 4* Spa Hotel in an oak forest.

Day 2 – Full route including elevation profile & GPX Export.


Day 3 – Bolu to Ayas – 102 miles, 9,762 ft ascent

The climbing starts immediately as we leave the hotel.  The day is joyous – very limited traffic, wilderness, mountains, rural life and plenty of climbing. Good road surface for the majority of the day. We stay above 2,500 ft all day and reach the highest point of the trip at 5,400 ft. As there are no restaurants along the way lunch will be a roadside picnic. Home for the night is another Thermal Spa hotel in a small town called Ayas.

Day 3 – Full route including elevation profile & GPX Export.


Day 4 – Ayas to Çandır – 97 miles, 6,941 ft total ascent

Another joyous day in the wilderness with quiet roads and far reaching views all day. Lots of up and downs as we stay at an elevation of > 3,000 ft all day. Early lunch is at a local grill restaurant in Kazan. The day is a masterclass is sampling different road surfaces – from the very best to the very worst! Unusually we finish at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and are picked up by buses to take us the 1 hour journey to Central Ankara. The crew will aim to provide cold beer & snacks while we pack up our bikes and travel to Ankara.

Day 4 – Full route including elevation profile & GPX Export.


Book Cycling Holiday Now


Pre-tour accommodation: where do I stay in Istanbul?

The package does include accommodation in Istanbul at The DoubleTree Hilton on Wednesday 19th June 2019.

How does the trip compare to previous legs?

There is always a lot of chat about how much harder each leg is to the previous year so here are the key statistics about the all the legs so far.  All have been measured using the Strava route planner:

Number of Days Average miles per day Average Elevation per day (Ft) Max climbing in 1 day (Ft) Max Elevation (Ft)
Leg 1 – Parmoor to Paris 2.5 92 5394 5674 737
Leg 2 – Paris to Geneva 4 91 6148 8560 4339
Leg 3 – Geneva to Milan 4 88 4139 7467 8127
Leg 4 – Milan to Rome 4.5 102 6082 9448 3116
Leg 5 – Rome to Bari 4 101 8524 12073 3713
Leg 6 – Bari to Thessaloniki 4 95 7198 12089 5010
Leg 7 – Thessaloniki to Istanbul 5 105 6237 8919 2394
Leg 8 – Istanbul to Çandır 4 97.5 7750 9762 5400


The days are shorter than Leg 7 but we do climb more on average.  There are very few flat sections as there is normally some ascending or descending to do.

In total by the end of Leg 8 the journey so far is over 3,100 miles.

What is the route like?

Planning this route has been quite a challenge to find places to stay at night, avoiding motorways and cycling on quiet roads with good road surfaces and great scenery while still making progress on our journey across the world. There is always an element of compromise.

Traffic – Leg 8 is overall the quietest of all the legs so far, after the first day we don’t cycle into any cities and there are long stretches with minimal traffic. Days 3 and 4 are particularly quiet.

Scenery – Leg 8 has some of the best scenery so far for parts of day 1 and 2 and the whole of days 3 and 4.

Motorways – there are only two short sections of dual carriageway on the whole leg – these are 1.5 miles each on quiet roads and have a separate hard shoulder.

Road Surfaces – 95% of the road surfaces are OK to great however there are short sections of roads across every day where the road has worn away or has been replaced with gravel.  There is also a section of cycle path after lunch on day 1 with compacted sand.  All are very manageable by road bike.  The worst section is a 3 mile stretch of gradual downhill on the last day that is hard to cycle – hopefully it may be more compacted or even resurfaced by the time we get there.  They are not ideal but with all the sections there is simply no other route to take. The majority of the route is through a sparsely populated area of Turkey with limited people and roads.

To avoid bike issues and minimise punctures everyone will be required to use tough tyres for the whole trip – you have been warned – otherwise you’ll run the risk of not being abe to cycle the whole way.

Wildlife – as in previous legs there are frequent animals blocking the road – care is required going downhill and around corners. There are no sheep guard dogs like in Greece but there are the usual stray dogs / pets together with lots of cows, geese and turkeys in the middle of the road. Although the woods in day 2 are populated by wild boar, brown bears and gazelles you’d be lucky to see one.

Lunches – there are so few options in the areas that we are cycling that the lunch stops are very varied and often not in the middle of the day.  There is an upmarket turkish restaurant, a locals restaurant, a fish farm and a picnic!

The finish – One of the biggest challenges as we go cross less populated parts of the world is finding places to stay at the end of a reasonable days cycling. We are finishing in the middle of nowhere and getting transport to Ankara in preparation for day 1 of Leg 9. In 2020 we can then cycle to a city called Corum that can accommodate us. In leg 8 and future legs we will endeavour to get everyone to a city with an airport on the final day before travelling home.

What happens after Leg 8?

Plans will change each year as the next leg is plotted in detail. Leg 8 is shorter than originally planned and we need to continue our journey inland as there are so few roads along the Black Sea with the only options being too busy.

Leg 9 Çandır to near Trabzon, Turkey (5 days)

Leg 10 Trabzon to Tblisi, Georgia (5 days)

Leg 11 Tbilisi, Georgia to Baku, Azerbaijan (5 days)

After Leg 11 the route will depend on the political / security advice at the time.  At the moment there is likely to be one long trip to go through Iran in 2023.  This is likely to be a 2-3 week trip so will require some advanced diary planning as we get closer.

If it is possible we will endeavour to make the trip shorter and spread it across 2 years.

To inspire you for the journey across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran it’s worth watching Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure on ITV Player as Episode 2 and Episode 3 broadly follow our route.

If you have the appetite think about how you can fit it into your life.  Sabbatical? Gardening leave? Retirement? Unpaid leave?  I envisage this be a much smaller group but will be one hell of an adventure.  We will then probably miss East Iran, Pakistan & Afghanistan due to safety concerns before continuing the journey in 5/6 days trips across India and beyond.

Health & Safety

For Leg 8 we are introducing a few changes that will assist you in the event of an accident:

  • Travel Insurance (including cycle touring) compulsory and details to be provided during registration. This is important so that we can contact your insurer in the event that you are unconscious and your next of kin is uncontactable or doesn’t know your insurance details.
  • Doctor on the crew – we will endeavour to have a qualified Doctor in the crew to liaise with local medical staff as required.
  • There is very little / no english spoken once we leave Istanbul.  We will have a turkish speaker on the crew to help overcome or smooth any issues.
  • Road surfaces – you will need durable (Puncture proof) tyres ideally with 25c or 28c tyres with grip to help on the poor road surfaces.

How will I navigate?

As in previous legs we encourage everyone to have a Garmin (or similar GPS navigation device) and install the Ride25 App / add the routes to your Strava account.

As we are now out of Europe you may not have access to maps on your Garmin.  There is a great description here of how to download maps onto your Garmin for free.

As always we do not follow the quickest routes each day – the routes are planned to minimise traffic & busy roads and maximise the scenery & significant places. We also try to avoid poor road surfaces!

If using Garmin to prevent navigation problems please:

  • Follow a the route as a “Course”
  • Ensure that “Autocorrect” is turned off in your settings for each course
  • Do not “navigate to start” when prompted at the start of a ride

As usual Ride25 will provide a cloth map that will get you out of trouble if you are lost with no working devices but to navigate effectively you’ll need to use a Garmin, the Ride25 App or Strava on your phone.

What do I wear?

Normal cycling attire is fine for both sexes across the whole route.  We recommend women cover their legs & shoulders in the evenings.

Do I need to train?

Yes. 390 miles cycling is a significant challenge for anyone but as in previous years it is achievable. We do recommend you follow a training schedule. As in previous years you can always call the support team if you need picked up at any point. We will have multiple seats available in the support cars so that it is easier to get picked up if required.

Training Ride

We will organise a training ride west of London in the Henley area on Saturday 18th May.  Please put it in your diaries. We will have a dinner the night before if you fancy joining in.


You will need to book a flight to Istanbul with your bike in a bike box.  There are multiple direct flights to Istanbul from the UK every day. Use Ride25 Pioneer Sponsor Skyscanner to find the best deals.

You will also need to book a flight back from Ankara.  There are no direct flights to the UK, most include a transfer in Istanbul.  The Airport is 30 mins from the hotel in Ankara.

If you wanted to revisit Istanbul the hotel is literally above the new high speed train Station to Istanbul.  Trains can be rebooked with a journey time of circa 3.5 hours.

The fastest journey times from Ankara to the UK is 6.5 hours which his a great indication of the distance we’ve cycled so far!


What is the cost?

Cost: £725 per person with a single supplement of £250. As in all previous Pioneer trips this is a not for profit – ie the cost is a sum of the direct costs of running the trip only. The Turkish Exchange Rate is on a roller coaster so in the event that the exchange rate goes up or down significantly from 8 TL to £1 we will adjust the price up or down between now and Feb.

This includes:

  • 5 x nights accommodation in Istanbul, Sapanca, Bolu, Ayas and Ankara
  • 5 x breakfast
  • 4 x lunch
  • 4 x dinner including celebration party in Istanbul
  • 5 x manned support vehicles including 2 x bike mechanics & first aiders
  • Transportation of bags each day to the finish
  • Transportation of bike boxes from Istanbul to Ankara
  • Water, fruit and emergency supplies in the vehicles
  • 4 x personalised cycling shirts – ensure you enter the correct shirt size when you register
  • 4 x GPS files of the routes
  • 4 x “get out of trouble” cloth maps

Deposit due on booking, balancing payment due in Feb 2019.

What’s not included?

  • Flights to Istanbul OR back from Ankara
  • ALL drinks & incidentals – please pay for all your drinks at each stop / meal / hotel. Drinks are included at the party in Ankara – but they haven’t seen us lot drinking after 4 days cycling so they may well stop during the evening!
  • Medical Insurance – details of your policy required before travel.

Optional extras:

  • Single room.

Which hotels are we staying in?

The nature of the Ride25 adventure means that the routes & accommodation is dictated to by what the inventory of hotels looks like along our journey.  We are lucky this year as there is only one hotel every night and they are overall of a far higher standard than usual on the cycling days. With the exception of  the last night in Ankara all the hotels have swimming pools and spas. Dinner is in the hotel every night.

All the hotels serve alcohol and are all locally owned and run except for the Hilton in Istanbul. All the hotel bars are outside the towns however we will ensure that everyone is culturally sensitive!

Pre-Start Hotel – Istanbul – The only 5* hotel on the Asian side of Istanbul – The Hilton Moda Hotel

Night 1 – Sapanca – Destination Spa & Wellness 5* Hotel overlooking the sea –The Richmond Nua.  

Night 2 –  Bolu – Destination Spa 4* Hotel in the woods with views over Bolu – The Gazelle Resort.

Night 3 – Ayas – 3* Spa Hotel with great views –The Prestige Thermal Hotel 

Night 4 – Ankara – New, 4* modern hotel close to the centre –The Ankara Hotel.  If you wish to extend your stay please email Mine Uyar (

Access to the Spa is charged as an extra on Night 1 in Sapanca (Circa£10) but included the other nights.

What are we raising money for?

As in previous years all participants shall pay all their own costs and all money raised shall go straight to 1moreChild.

What is 1moreChild?

1moreChild was set-up by Harry & Hen Ferdinando in 2008 to help enable street children in Jinja, Uganda to go to school and prosper. Ride25 raises money for 1moreChild for the following key reasons:

A small amount of money goes along way – as little as £15 per month can transform a child’s life. 100% of all money donated to 1moreChild goes to tackle the problem.  There are no western overheads, admin costs or wastage. In addition Harry & Hen pay all their own costs. The money raised from the cycle will make an enormous difference to 1moreChild and enable them to take many more children out of the slum.

1moreChild provide school fees, 3 meals a day, school uniforms, school supplies, shoes, clothes, medical care, tutoring, mentoring, a football club and various other activities.

For more information about 1moreChild:

Watch a short film made by Pioneers visiting 1moreChild in Uganda in 2017.


Watch the 1moreChild story.

Harry will again be one of the support crew on Leg 8.

What impact has the money raised by the Pioneers had?

The Pioneers cycle trip is the most significant fundraising initiative for the charity with circa 70% of their overall funding coming from this trip.  We have raised over £800,000 for the charity across legs 1 to 7.

As a result of our trips 1moreChild has taken nearly 250 children off the streets and given them everything they need to go to school.


How to book a place?

Initial Payment: £150 payable to confirm place in a twin room OR £400 in a single room. This will be donated to 1moreChild in the event that you pull out. Alternatively make the full payment of £725 (twin) or £975 (single) now to avoid further admin.

Book Cycling Holiday Now

What about Ride25 Pioneer Virgins?

Until the 15th October only cyclists that have completed a Pioneer event previously can book onto the trip unless you have received an email invite.

After the 15th October you can invite your friends but we will ask them to make a commitment to fundraising for 1moreChild.

There are less places available this year than previously.

What are the opportunities for sponsorship? 

We have put together a number of packages but are also open to offers from anyone for anything.

Cyclists pay for the costs of the shirts, banners etc so all the money given in sponsorship goes directly to 1moreChild. The more you sponsor the largest exposure your logo will get.

Harry Ferdinando, the founder of 1moreChild is on the leg again this year so you will have plenty of opportunity to hear more about what great things the money you are raising does.

A number of places on the ride have been saved for Sponsors even if they are not Pioneers.

What about individual sponsorship?

Please do create your own personal sponsorship page (we recommend Virgin Giving as they charge less than other sites) or use the group page to raise money by sending it to all your contacts.

What else do I need to do / bring?

  • Visas ARE required for most visitors INCLUDING British citizens. See latest advice here from the Foreign Office.  As at 26/9/18 visas can be bought at the border but this has historically changed frequently with no notice so we recommend that you buy a visa online up to 3 months before travel.  You need 6 months still valid on your passport when you travel.  The cost is currently US$20. Please investigate what visa you require for you nationality.
  • Hard wearing tyres – the road surfaces are similar to previous legs in the most part BUT There  is circa 15 miles of poor to very poor surface across the trip.  YOU WILL NEED PUNCTURE PROOF TYRES TO GET THROUGH THIS.
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses / clear lenses for glasses
  • Large saddle bag with –  2 x spare inner tubes, puncture repair kit and tyre leavers
  • Cycle pump or gas canisters
  • 2 x large water bottles for hydration drinks and water – very important on this leg – there are frequently large distances where it is impossible refill.
  • We recommend you pack some homemade flapjacks or similar. As in leg 7 some of the stops have very limited provisions so we recommend you bring provisions with you.
  • Your favorite energy gels or bars
  • Sun cream
  • Top bar bag for phone, wallet and energy stuff
  • Phone mount if you are using Ride25 App or Strava as a navigation tool
  • Portable battery charger for mobile
  • Garmin (or similar GPS navigation device) or Ride25 for phone

Book Cycling Holiday Now