Our day started in the quiet valley of Olympos, woken up not for the first time by a rooster crowing, but without the normal call to prayer that sounds just before dawn. Here, among the treehouses and next to the beach, there are no mosques within earshot. Just many tired backpackers, sleeping in after a night at the bar or playing backgammon with friends.
We rolled over, snuck in a few minutes of extra sleep, braved a not-so-warm shower and feasted on a deluxe breakfast omelette. Three coffees each down the hatch and it was time to pedal again. We’d just gotten into the groove when we heard a shout behind us and then watched another cyclist swerve round us and screech to a stop.
“Can I take your picture?” he asked.
This was Paddy, an Englishman who’d been on the road on and off for the past seven years, working his way around Europe and Morocco on farms. Now he was on his way to Prague to try his hand at a “real job” again – doing some web design work while spending time with friends in the city.
We chattered all the way to the top of the hill, a nice distraction from the very hard work getting out of Olympos and into the next big town, Kumluca. Paddy was 33, had given it all up – job, house, posessions – some years ago, got on his bike for a 5-week trip to Denmark and never looked back. Well, it’s nice to know we’re not the only crazy ones out there! Although Paddy’s cycling regime was a bit tougher than ours; he was hoping for at least 100km today and had done as much as 240km in one day. Pure insanity for us but he took it in his stride. Just put the music on, headphones in and away you go, he said. It seemed to work for him.
In Kumluca we went our separate ways, though we promised to stay in touch and who knows, if Paddy fulfills his dream of getting on the bike for a “big trip” round the world in the summer we may meet up again before long, perhaps somewhere in China.
Our afternoon was filled with boring tasks. A run to the bank to pay the money for Friedel’s bike part, which should hopefully arrive in Antalya in a couple days. Grocery shopping. Lunch.
Finally, late in the day, we started towards the small and twisty mountain road that will take us back to the city, through rural farm land. Before we even got 5km up the road, though, we were stopped twice by locals who insisted it was too far, too hard, too steep. Not on bicycles. Where would we stay? Our tent. What would we eat? Pasta and coffee. You can cook hot food? Yes.
General amazement and much nodding followed.
After our interrogators were satisfied we were set free, working our way around only a few curves before we stopped for the day, saving our energy for a push to the top in the morning.