The route I planned in advance turned out to be overly ambitious. It was March when I started, so basically still winter. The days were a bit short and cold. Combined with the lack of training that caused for a rather painful double knee injury. The injury forced me to skip the hilly route through the south of Serbia and Bulgaria, I opted for the flat Danube river route instead.
The Turkmenistan visa took more time than expected, and there was no guarantee I would recieve it in the end. I chose not to wait and cycled to Azerbaidzjan instead. To make up some time lost, and to avoid the desert of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, I took a train from Aqtau to Nukus, and from Urgench to Samarkand. This is the route I took.