Today delivered so much more than it promised. I am typing this in our tent on a lovely pitch, just off the road with views of Lake Beysehir on one side and Mount Dipoyrax on the other side.
The day did not promise much because the forecast was for more or less continuous rain. We paid up and said our goodbyes to the eclectic cast of characters at the hostel many of whom felt like friends. We were – after all – fully at home with a bunch of eclectic travellers. The hostel owner assured us that our route topped out at 1650m – not 1800m as Googlemaps suggested. Sorry to report that local knowledge was not 100% accurate but we topped out at 1804m – and felt every one of those extra 154m we had to climb. But more accurate than the tea shop owner in Karadilli who told us that an 80km ride was only 30km.
Anyway we breakfasted and set off in the gloom but without it actually raining. Th road was largely flat for about 10km and then the climbing started. We climbed from 900 1300m and then went down, and up and down and so on. Only touring cyclists know how irritating it is when roads cannot make up their minds whether to go up or down. One feels like saying – just do one thing or another but don’t keep changing your mind! However the road followed the valleys and the ground undulated and so the road followed suit.
After 30km and with rain now falling heavily we reached the nondescript town of Aksu. There are lots of Turks who have worked in Germany and assume that any foreigner can speak German. Confession time – I have only failed one exam in my life and that was O Level German in 1976. I was taught by Herr Fifer who was a jewish German emigrant who hated the Germans with a passion but had to teach this hated language as his only way of making a living. He took it as a mark of accomplishment whenever a student failed as it was one in the eye to his persecutors. I was a spectacular success for him with my D overall but my U for the oral. All this came back to haunt me in the tea shop in Aksu.
Having just about made oral progress, we paid up for the excellent tea and headed off in search of Aksu’s main attraction – the Zindan Cave. This is a remarkable fissure which goes 750m into the mountainside. It is a narrow cave to walk along, well lit with fantastic stalactites and stalagmites.
As we emerged the sun came out and the rain clouds appeared to have temporarily abated. It was overcast but dry as we cycled back to the village and picked up the road to Yenisarbademli. We knew there was a mega limb to get there and started to ascend. But then the road started to descend again – and dropped by a full 200m to about 1180m. We must have crossed the 1200m marker about 10 times during the day.
The valley was stunning and started to feel pretty remote and then, eventually, we began the BIG climb. This was 750m of continuous up – and in parts it was very steep. But most was 10% or less and so we trudged up over the next 2 hours watching the landscape change in that imperceptible way that it does wen one is going at 5km per hour. Lots of stops, photos and drink breaks and we made it to the top. The scenery was reminiscent of both Greece and California – high mountains surrounding the valley, fir trees and sandy soil and sparse vegetation. It felt remote and the road was very quiet.
The descent was, of course, over in no time. We passed Yenisarbademli and camped a few km on, by the lake. It’s a lovely spot between the lake and the mountains even if, as we suspect, we are the first and only people to have ever camped here. We cooked, brewed coffee and tea and ate chocolate (thinking of and speaking to Pippa who has exams tomorrow). Last year it was Ant and next year it will be Becky on her Masters. It never seems to stop for them.
Anyway with double sleeping bags we hope we will be cosy all night. I type this as the dark has come and the wind has got up. If we get blown away this will be the last blog!