Day 59. Tuesday, September 26. Safranbolu to Kaynaklar. 142.4km of riding, with 1,827m of climbing.
A crescendo of cycling and celebration is the best way to describe these last four days of our 62-day ride across six central Asian countries. So, I need to keep these last four daily posts short. If I don’t, I won’t have a rest day to catch up. So, you’ll be left wondering how the ride ends.
This morning was glorious; mid-day was a big hassle; and this afternoon tough to say the least. Redeemed by camping under hazelnut trees, thanks to gracious, last-minute hosting by a tiny community.
The first stage of the day was fine riding down a steep, deep gorge. The Turks seemed to love building roads and here they excelled themselves – 17 tunnels in some 30km to make it a swoopy descent. The shortest was 17m, the sign told us, and the longest 700m. Well-lit and lightly trafficked, made the tunnels a hoot.
Apologies for not stopping to take a picture of a tunnel. But here’s a picture of the gorge to the right of our road, with a close up of the train tracks right at the bottom – the Turks also love building railway lines through challenging terrain.
Mid-day was troublesome because 10km before lunch I had a rear wheel blow out – so big and sudden I felt the air shoot up my left calf; so loud Jette, who was right in front of me, thought I’d crashed spectacularly.
I don’t know what slashed open the tyre but it made a slit big enough for the tube to blow through it. Realising I couldn’t fix the tyre, I called for the support van to take me to our lunch stop where I hoped I could get at my permanent bag where I had a spare tyre.
While I was sitting rather dejectedly on the kerb, a local came along to give me three freshly picked walnuts. They were delicious…their flesh white, moist and tasty – quite unlike the desiccated, aged walnuts I’ve eaten all my life.
At lunch, I got my spare tyre and a new tube – and Malcolm, one of our crew, offered to get my bike road-ready again while I had lunch. But that took time, so wisely the Dane Train left when they were ready; and when my bike was fixed, Sinan, our support vehicle driver drove me 15km along the route to catch them up. That meant I’d missed 10km before lunch and 15km after.
I rejoined them half-way up a big, steep climb. And the afternoon only got harder, with ramps of up to 15 percent on some of the climbs. I ended up walking those above 12 percent or so…and was quite shattered when we got to camp.
That place was a very late change. The previous day, when Carolina was checking on the following day’s route, she discovered that the main road was completely closed to all traffic because of new construction. So she and other crew members had to work out a new route through the back country roads in the hills, and find a new place to camp. That’s where the little community, when asked, eagerly agreed to host us –in their back yard and under the hazelnut trees. We were very grateful.
The first picture below is from my tent in the middle of the night – of hazelnut tree and leaves above my tent silhouetted by the near-full moon. And the rest taken the following morning over breakfast.