North Team prepare with international bike festival in Düzce

By Laura Eylen, Bike for Europe North Team 09/08/2018

Introducing our Bike for Europe tour blogger from the North Team, Laura Eylen. Laura will keep us up-to-date with all the action from the northern route of the Bike for Europe tour, which stretches from the Netherlands to Austria. The North Team warmed up for the tour at an international bike festival in Turkey and Laura captured the atmosphere of the event for us.

It is Friday, 13 July. People from different corners of the world have travelled hundreds of kilometres to be here in Düzce, to be here for cycling. The field, which was filled with few tents yesterday at night, is shining all colours of the spectrum. The green, black, blue and grey tents are settled and the forest is full of sound. Birds, dogs, chickens and rabbits meet every cyclist at the entrance to the camp.

At 7 in the morning a noisy rattle started. Everyone was beginning to prepare for their first ride of 45 kilometres. I woke up to the sound of rustle next to my tent. A group of men were building their “new house” with laughter and excitement. “Do not forget to register and sign!” shouted one of the organisers at the registration desk. I headed to the desk. It was nice to look around. Some fixing their bikes, some rushing to the shower, others sitting and resting. The smell of a tea surrounded the camp site. Different conversations, laughter and voices mixed together with the sounds of birds formed some kind of a sound cloud which cuddled the yard.

It was about 5pm. A huge group of cyclists were waiting next to the road where our ride was to start. Just look at that! Different coloured uniforms with various slogans on them, for saving the environment, for health... Everyone was standing impatiently, some checking their bikes for a last time, some stretching their legs, and here we go with the sound of a whistle! We have cycled up to the Korunalp Arkeopark, the Ancient Theatre. Later, we have visited the University of Düzce and then the best part of the day – live music concert in university campus.

It is Saturday. The second day of Düzce bicycle festival. I am happy to be here. I am happy to meet all these people. There are no obstacles for those who have a strong passion. Yesterday I had noticed that there were people with disabilities who had joined the ride.

Today a huge group of 115 cyclists headed to the road. We cycled to the river where the rafting place is and we had our lunch there. Enthusiastic men and women in their 40s and 50s, leaving the young ones behind them during the ride, seemed full of energy and joy. And even after the 50km was done they were laughing as it was just a funny start. It looked like it was going to rain soon. Dark clouds covered the sky and there was no sign of the sun. While heading back to our camp site I felt first rain drops. Everyone had started to cycle as fast as they could. I remembered my tent and all the clothes and sleeping bags we had left inside. But it was too late. It has already rained in our camp site so everything was under the water…

After the dinner we had a presentation of “Bike for Europe” project as ENVERÇEVKO association. The rain didn’t stop during the night and some of the people had to sleep in their cars.

After a long rainy night Sunday came with its new adventures and better weather. After the breakfast people have gathered for the next ride. A huge crowd headed to the road again after a terrible night with the smiles and joy on their faces. We had visited the park and a small group went up to the waterfall.

I saw something different in the faces of the people who gathered here. It was joy and freedom, happiness of being in the nature and meeting likeminded people, an opportunity of sharing and a feeling of support. Men and women in their 40s cycling 90km, going up the hill to the waterfall and coming back… Adventure-minded people with delightful curiosity on their faces. The ones with the strong resolution and a wish to alter, to escape from a trivial life. Leaving aside their physical necessities, rest, sleep, meal, shower, clean clothes, their passion is recreational cycling.

This festival made me think again how important it is to share and to feel that you are understood, as we know that some matters are hard to share in particular countries. The passion of cycling may be not understood in particular societies in Turkey. That’s why these festivals are needed for people who wish to live in different way and who want to make some changes in their life.

Laura is getting ready to Bike for Europe this September – want to meet her and the team? Find an event near you