Climb, climb, climb for all you’re worth. That’s a pretty good one-line summary of our day. The warnings from the locals turned out to be true; the back road to Antalya is a strenuous workout for cyclists. Still, despite the steep ascents, the all-too-rare descents and poor road conditions, we managed to enjoy ourselves.
We were in a good mood, on a road with hardly any other cars, a view over the mountains and plenty of fruit orchards offering a bounty of goodies to keep our energy up. Grapevines and apple and pomegranate trees lined the roadside. A good thing too since we only came across one sparsely stocked corner store and nowhere to buy gas.
That’s a first for us in Turkey. Normally petrol stations pop up on even the quietest of roads, often two or three at a time. With gas running low in our little stove, we tucked into the fresh fruit and a stash of cookies instead of making a hot lunch, saving just enough for supper and the required morning coffee.
Only shepherds kept us company in the first half of the day, driving their flocks up and down the steep slopes with calls that we can’t seem to imitate. A combination of tongue-twisting zips and whistles gets the goats going from one side of the road to the other with amazing speed.
At the top of the day’s last big climb a group of telephone workers cheered us on. One man motioned that we needed motors for our bikes and then offered a ride in the back of his truck to Antalya but there was no way we were missing the downhill run after all the hard work! Besides, the wild camping is too wonderful up here to miss. A real treat. Instead we waved goodbye and flew down the road to a pine forest which seemed put there just for our tent.
As the sun slipped behind the mountains the last shepherd headed for home with his troop of goats. We slurped our soup and settled in for a night under the trees.