Following the route pioneered by Ercihan Dilari and his mare Anadolu during the first Evliya Celebi expedition in 2009, the first commercial Evliya Celebi Ride set out from Hersek on 31st August 2010. Baking heat one day, torrential rain the next: extremes of weather settled after two days into dazzling Turkish sun by day and crisp nights around the campfire.
The destination was Evliya's paternal ancestral town of Kutahya, the midway point as well as ultimate goal of the original expedition last autumn. In 2010, twelve riders came from Turkey, New York, London, California, Scotland, New Zealand, and Canada (British Columbia and Alberta). Four riders had been participants in the original expedition, as had six of the thirteen horses. Some riders joined as a result of the efforts of Bayard Fox of Equitours.com, whose enthusiasm for the experimental and adventurous is legendary.
The Evliya Celebi Way wends along the Yalak River, through the orchards, vineyards, and city walls of Iznik, hill villages perched above the Yenisehir plain, Bursa with its precious monuments dating from its years as an Ottoman capital, the villages of Uludag giving way to those in the Domanic mountains, and finally the grassy plains leading to Kutahya, gateway to ancient Phrygia, nestling on a mountainside. The first 2010 Ride set out during Ramazan, in the heat of early September, and finished after the Seker Bayrami with rahvan (ridden pacing) races at the Atli Spor Kulubu (Horse Sports Club) in Kutahya.
Now a second 2010 Evliya Ride is following Ercihan back from Kutahya to Hersek. What will have happened to George, the beautiful kangal who attached himself to the first Ride at Ortakoy and followed us faithfully all the way to Kutahya? How is Panoramic faring, the unlucky though lovely one, who suffered a kick on the second day and had to be left behind to recuperate, courtesy of the Cilek stud at Sukraniye?