Turkey is a great place to explore by bike. It’s populated enough that you don’t need to think too far ahead about food. There is free, clean water available from roadside fountains that tap into underground supplies. And it’s not so populated that you can’t find a hidden place to camp. My camp spot tonight is the nicest yet for Turkey. In fact, the area I am in is perhaps the most beautiful I have seen in the country so far. From my tent I have 180 degree view of a rocky mountain range. Some peaks are dusted with snow. As the sun set the colour of the rock changed, as did the intriguing pattern of shadows that revealed its ruggedness. I couldn’t help but take a set of photos every couple of minutes.
It’s colder than ever. My feet never warmed up in the night, so tonight I have upgraded my bed socks from thin cotton ones to moderately thick merino wool ones. It took me a while to warm up in the morning and for once I actually wished for a hill climb just so my body could heat up with the effort. My gloves weren’t enough to keep my hands from hurting so I began thinking I will need to find some thick winter gloves soon. I got my hill climb and ever so slowly began to thaw out. I never got really warm though. While yesterday I made the milestone of riding all day in socks and gloves, today I rode all day in my waterproof jacket too.
The ride was very pleasant despite the cold. Just before Goksun I got called into a roadside vegetable stand by a guy who could obviously speak a bit of English. He is a retired electrical engineer who was born in Russia but has been living for many years in Turkey. He dislikes both countries. His work in the gas industry must have taken him all over Central Asia as he could also speak a couple of other languages. He is not a fan of Central Asia in general. Rotten politics and too much fighting, he said. He would love to move to Canada or Australia. From his broken English I also gathered that he is chatting online to a woman in Indonesia who is trying to convince him to move there to be with her. This was after I was given coffee prepared by someone I assume is his Turkish wife. As I enjoyed the coffee I prepared myself some lunch. When I pulled out a tomato to add to my sandwich, my new friend exclaimed, “No no no…not good pomedore…from factory…bad for stomach…wait…” He disappeared and returned with a huge tomato grown in his backyard. “Organic. Better”. I was also gifted with some of his organic apples too.
Not far down the road I pulled into a service station to use a toilet and while there I was invited to have a tea with two workers. One of these spoke excellent English and I was surprised to hear he had learned it in school but hadn’t really used it since.
I really liked the look and feel of Goksun. I stopped in at a little shop to buy some milk and a packet of choc-chip cookies. Then I began to fall in love with the area beyond Goksun. I headed up the main road towards Kayseri, but soon turned off onto a minor road that looked a bit more adventurous. This was where things got spectacular. I had about twenty minutes of riding to go (to reach my 4pm target) when I decided to stop so I could camp directly in front of the stunning vista.
I have a new favourite-shaped pasta. It is like a curved tube that has been pinched at one end. New for me. I loved it. I had it with a canned bean mix and the remaining three quarters of the giant tomato I was given at lunch. The bean mix was flavoured but I also added some salt, cumin, chilli powder and soup mix. It was absolutely delicious. The only trouble was that the air is so cold that I can’t get through half of it before the food feels refrigerated.
|Distance ridden today||73.32km|
|Average cycling speed||15.2kph|
|Total distance ridden||25,475km|