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76km Antalya to Ulupınar

Posted October 28th, 2007

Packing up: what a lot of luggage!It’s hard to believe that less than a week ago we were stuck in a muddy field with rain pouring out of the sky and now, just a couple hundred kilometers away in Antalya, the heat is sweltering. We are hard to please when it comes to the weather! Somewhere between 15°C and 25°C please, partly sunny but with some clouds to give a bit of shade and a nice tailwind if you don’t mind. The highs at the moment are hitting close to 30°C so with a hot day ahead we made an extra effort to get on the road early, making sure we had our bags packed and were ready to be first in line for breakfast.

As we came down the stairs, we soon felt pretty silly about all our eager packing. The clocks went back overnight and we forgot all about the time change so there we were in the lobby with plenty of time to spare before we could eat and get going. Our time was soon filled by a French man (also staying the hotel while he completes a move to Antalya) who had just bought a bike and wanted us to help with a few adjustments. Gilles was very proud of his new purchase and we couldn’t quite find it in our hearts to tell him that his bicycle was one of the poorest quality we have seen in some time. Not only were all the components flimsy, the brake pads were touching the wheel and installed upside down and whoever sold it to him had given him a bike several sizes too small for his height. The shiny gold frame and bouncy suspension seat seemed to keep him happy though and Gilles rode off exuberantly after we fixed his brakes so the wheel could actually run freely. (more…)

85km Sülekler to Antalya

Posted October 26th, 2007

Shining roadsThe simply stunning scenery of yesterday continued into today as we glided into the coastal city of Antalya. Golden fields flanked by mountains and roads that cyclists’ dream of all with fun curves and plenty of descents came together to make for the second of two wonderful days – some of the best riding we’ve done in quite some time. The incredible views around every corner, down into valleys and towards the sea, more than made up for Friedel’s bike, which is still ailing despite the best attempts of local mechanics.

We are now resigned to trying to find a replacement gear shifter, either here in Antalya if we are lucky or (more likely) by getting one sent to us from Europe. We tried to ask in one medium-sized town about the availability of reasonably high quality spare parts but the man running the shop only laughed in reply and showed us some very basic options. Certainly not what we need to carry us further down the road.

We had another chuckle on our way into Antalya when we crossed the road to inspect a shop with a large sign reading “bicycles” above its door. From a distance we thought we saw a number of spare parts on their shelves but on closer inspection it turned out to be primarily a kitchen store with a few cheap bicycles for sale. The spare parts were pots and pans. What a combination – bicycles and saucepans!

The good news is that if we are forced to spend a week or so in this area it won’t be a hardship. Antalya has already captured our interest as a city with its old town, filled with little alleyways and views of the water, and there are plenty of trips we can do in the surrounding area to kill time until the parts we need arrive.

64km Yeşilova to Sülekler

Posted October 25th, 2007

Another pass!Today was a complete contrast to the previous run of rainy weather that had us feeling down. We pulled back the curtains from our hotel room window and saw blue skies and sunshine. Perfect! We packed up quickly and rushed out to enjoy the roads in a way we haven’t for a few days. It turned out to be an almost-perfect day of pedalling. A few small towns early on let us stock up on goodies and then we turned onto a scenic route heading south where the huge sky filled with fluffy white clouds was matched only by the rocky mountains hovering on the horizon. A little stream babbled beside the road. We admired leaves on the trees which had turned shades of orange, yellow and red and farm workers out taking in the autumn harvest waved to us from the fields. We went up and up, around twists in the road, continually climbing until finally we reached a pass that took us by surprise – despite being over 1,500m it wasn’t on our map!

Turtle on the roadThe downhill was also a welcome and unexpected treat and very handy as just at the peak Friedel’s bike decided, without warning, to stop changing gears on the back ring. We used the descent to easily cover a few more kilometers and then settled on a hilltop camping spot where Andrew sits now, trying his hand at fixing gears and shifting mechanisms. It’s something neither of us know anything about so if we can’t figure out what’s gone wrong we may have to head straight to the big city of Antalya to seek out a bike mechanic instead of doing a longer route along the coast.

In the mud in Turkey

Posted October 24th, 2007

Oh, what a wonderful morning! Well, ‘wonderful’ in the way only pushing your loaded bicycle through a field of mud in the rain can be. Now you can see why we needed a break after this! Tomorrow should be better, or so the weather man promises…

34km Karahüyükafşar to Yeşilova

Posted October 24th, 2007

Crossing mountainsThe weather forecast said sun, sun, sun when we checked it yesterday but over the past few days we’ve had just the opposite — a run of rain. One day of rain is okay, two is manageable but after three days of wet weather you start to feel a little down. This morning’s drops turned our field campsite into a mud hole and our heavy bikes sunk into the muck, the wheels completely stopped from turning by the thick clay that coated the tyres and brakes.

We had to carry our bikes out of the field and then take shelter in an abandoned building, where we scraped the mud out with our hands so the wheels would turn again. Late in the morning we finally got underway, with a fine drizzle still falling on our heads. The clouds cleared a little as we came over a mountain pass, giving us a fine view onto a lake below with its turquoise blue waters. Even on a grey day the reflection from the lake was beautiful but before we could snap a picture the rain returned so by the time we got to the town of Yeşilova we’d had enough.

A hearty lunch of pide – the Turkish version of a pizza – gave us a chance to think and we decided stopping early for the day would do the trick to get us back on track. Happily this little town is just big enough for a hotel that is reasonably clean and doesn’t break the bank so we snapped up a room, cleared the laundry out of our panniers and sat back, hoping for the weather to improve tomorrow.