On this epic slow ride to Istanbul, following the Rhine and Danube rivers, our writer ‘turned the pedals and waited for the world to unfold’
I emerged from the belly of the ferry in Rotterdam, blinking like a newborn. I wobbled off on my bicycle with my teenage son, unused to the weight of my panniers – unused to cycling at all, actually – and definitely not fit. My end goal was Istanbul, more than 3,000 miles away, and I wondered if I would ever make it. But I had a cunning plan: I would cycle the flat river valleys of the Rhine and Danube, and by the time I reached the Balkans, I’d have cycled myself into fitness. Or so I hoped.