Day 55. Friday, September 22. Amasya to Osmancik. 142.3km of riding, with 1,150m of climbing.
Amasya’s unique beauty melted quickly away into a typical commercial / industrial strip as we headed northwest out of the city on today’s ride. The drab developments lasted most of the 50km we rode along the dual carriage highway before we turned off west into the countryside.
Even then the rather flat plain with low, distant hills had little to catch the eye except two sizeable tent villages on two farms. They looked like temporary camps, probably for seasonal harvesters, we theorised. At the second one, a gaggle of excited kids came running out to the road to high five us as we rode past.
Soon after, we climbed a minor hill where our lunch van had set up shop for us. As we Dane Trainers stopped, so did a car coming the other way. The driver was keen to talk to us and fortunately Sinan, our Turkish guide on the tour, translated for us.
The driver was the leader of a Kurdish community in a town in south central Turkey. He said he negotiates with farmers around the country to bring in families from his community as seasonal harvesters – and they had just collected the last of the local onions.
With that question answered, we turned to lunch and another question. Was that pollution or just natural haze we were seeing back in the broad valley we travelled down along the industrial highway? Certainly, it looked slightly clearer looking in the opposite direction over open country.
Either or both, were our divided opinions. My money was mainly on pollution, given the highway and industry – the first such pollution we’d seen so far as we’ve travelled through the sparsely populated eastern part of the country.
But we’ll see increasingly more as we travel towards Istanbul. Officially it has some 15m residents though likely there are more. It is the biggest city in Europe, followed by Moscow and London; and 7th largest in the world. Fortunately, we hear there are great bike lanes to take us to our tour’s end in the heart of the city a week today.
Our after-lunch ride was some 75km through quiet, gentle countryside with just one 400m climb over a few kilometres to raise our heart rates. Down the other side, we stopped in a village for our first round of afternoon drinks and ice creams among tables of male card players at a well-shaded café.
And we indulged in a second round just 5km before the end of today’s ride. A sure sign we’re trying to spin out our last riding days as much as we can.
This evening we had a rare treat – staying in an hotel even though tomorrow is not a rest day. Our hotel is the only one in Osmancik…and we dined on its top floor terrace with fine views over the small town and wide countryside.