A lot of you have been asking me the past couple of days about the events in Turkey, whether this would jeopardize the race, whether I’d still be going, if I had any worries about them, etc. Your questions and worries are shared by many riders as well, some of them are afraid for mere practical reasons (no insurance if there’s a negative travel advice) and some of them wondering if they should be concerned for their personal safety. Between the attempted coup, Erdogans measurements and terrorist alerts there’s a lot to consider. So let me tell you what the race organisation’s position is, as well as how I’m looking at it.
The race organisation (here after referred to as Mike and Anna, to make it a little more personal 😉 ) has been closely monitoring the situation with help from people living in Turkey and stated that for now the plan remains unchanged and the finish will continue to be in Çanakkale (remember: not Instanbul). However, riders were given an alternative finish location on the Greek side of the border to prepare a route for, just in case things will go awry in Turkey. At Mike and Anna’s discretion, the finish will switch to plan B if the situation requires it.
I personally have full trust in Mike and Anna to make this decision. They would never put their own safety, the riders safety and the existence of the race at risk just for the sake of finishing in Turkey. But besides that, I also want to stress to anyone who’s worried for me that I will make my own decision to quit the race before the Turkish border, independent of their decision, if I find there’s any reason to do so. Yes, I’m terribly stubborn, but I’m also not an idiot. I’m well aware it’s just a bike race and it’s not worth it to risk it all for the sake of finishing. I highly doubt Mike and Anna will make a decision I won’t agree with, but again, if they do: trust me, I will account for myself if I have to.
In terms of flights home, I always planned to arrange my way home once I got to the finish line, so no planes were booked yet. This means I can avoid Ataturk Airport and decide to fly home from Izmir or even from a Greek airport if I prefer.
You also need to remember that I still have 12 other countries to cross before I even get to the Turkish border. So there’s at least two to three weeks – depending on how fast I’ll go – to monitor the situation. Hopefully that will be enough time for things to settle down a bit, but either way it’s plenty of time to consider the options and chose whatever is best at the given moment. I have every intention to start the race and enjoy the countries as much as I can. But I also have every intention to stay safe. Keep calm and keep dot watching! 🙂