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The French Alps to China’s Far East via the Silk Road

Kelly Sheldrick's picture
Michael and Kelly cycling through Thessaloniki, Greece. Cycle Traveller

We started our 10,000km cycle tour in the French Alps after finishing working as chalet hosts over the winter period. Not having any previous experience cycle touring, we had no idea what to expect, but as it turns out, France was probably the best place to begin – great roads and good facilities, with water fountains and bike shops everywhere. From France we cycled into Italy, then on to Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece and eventually, Turkey, where we started following the famous, Silk Road route.

For the past month we have been cycling the ancient trade route. This trade route runs straight through Central and Eastern Anatolia, where towns are few and far between and the weather and terrain can be hot and harsh. We started in the port town of Cesme, and made our way east through Selcuk, where we started cycling the Silk Road to Pamukkale, then continued further east to Konya, then to Goreme in Cappadocia. From there we continued on the Silk Road all the way to Erzurum in the east of Turkey, to sort out our Iranian visas.

Cycling in Anatolia. Cycle TravellerStarting in the French Alps, I presumed it was going to be the most mountainous part of the journey – how wrong was I? Since then we have passed through several mountain passes, many exceeding 2,000 metres. Turkey has been the hardest country to cycle in, partly because of the heat, partly because of the desolation and partly because of the roads. Despite this, it is also one of the most beautiful and hospitable countries we have cycled in, so far. The generosity of people has been overwhelming, and at times even uncomfortable. I’m certain that if more people could be as friendly and giving as some of the people I’ve met in Turkey, then the world would be a better place. A day doesn’t go by without several offers of tea or fruit, and the occasional offer of dinner, snacks, a bed, a shower (yes, we probably do smell, so maybe it’s more for their benefit than ours), coffee and even laundry (in a washing machine -- a luxury for us, as we end up having to hand wash most of the time). Along with many waves, smiles, “hellos" and the occasional confused/ interested stare, we are definitely getting more attention cycling through Turkey, than cycling through Italy or France.

I’m happy to announce that we just collected our Iranian visas today, so plan to enter Iran next week. From there we will head through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and finally arriving in China, in Nov.

We are cycling to raise funds and awareness for two amazing organisations.

Michael and Kelly bicycle touring in Turkey. Cycle TravellerWaterAid Australia, works to help improve access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation in the world's poorest communities, something that 2.5 billion people do not have access to. In May in India, two girls were found hung from a tree, after being repeatedly raped while “going to the toilet”, this is a stark reminder of why access to safe, private and hygienic toilets is so important. 

If you would like to donate to this amazing cause, please visit

St Rocco’s hospice provides loving care and support for patients with cancer and other progressive illnesses. They provided outstanding care for a family friend, Allan Quinn, whom spent his last days in the care of the hospice. We are cycling in memory of Allan, if you would like to donate, you can do online at

You can follow Kelly and Michael's cycling adventures on their blog at:

Images from the top: 1. Kelly and Michael in Thessaloniki, Greece. 2. Approaching another mountain pass in Central Anatolia, Turkey
3. Nine days of non-stop cycling through Central Anatolia to reach the 4000km mark, about 50km west of Erzurum. (Images copyright Kelly Sheldrick)

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France to China by bicycle and cycling the silk road was our first trip, since then we've decided to head off on a world cycle tour. I don't think the links in this article are still active, but our new blog is if you wanted to check it out!

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