From the previous visit, Turkey was remembered by me as follows: pleasant weather, beauty of nature, a lot of goodies 🥥
So when I saw the announcement of a cycling trip in Turkey, I signed up right away without any hesitation. After all, what could be better than a trip to the mountains in Turkey? 😌
But this year has thrown some trouble. Due to the pandemic, flights on the scheduled dates were canceled. We did not despair, we made a request to the airline to postpone the flight to another time. Fortunately, we received an affirmative answer. As a result, we flew in the fall, not in the spring.
Before the start
The leader of the campaign Sergey, several other participants and I arrived a day earlier. After landing in Antalya in the evening, we assembled our bicycles near the airport entrance. Then we got to an apart-hotel, where we spent 2 nights.
The next day was free. The leader was buying provisions. We (participants) decided to look at the waterfall and swim in the sea. Although our hotel was located near the airport, it didn’t take long to get to the coast, because 13 km by bike is not a distance 😏.
A little bit about road traffic. To the seafront we rode through the city. The local drivers seemed to me to be very undisciplined. They do not let cyclists pass, even if they must, we had to slip through. So cycling in Turkish cities is risky. Also, drivers do not give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. In Russia, traffic (at least in large cities), although far from ideal, is still more civilized.
After taking pictures on the seafront against the background of a waterfall, we went to the beach. The water is warm at the end of October, it was nice to swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
On the way back we visited a restaurant. This restaurant is not for tourists, there is only one waiter who know a few words in English. But the food there is very tasty and cheap. They also treated us to tea 🙂 These are the restaurants that you should visit in Turkey, because restaurants for tourists are expensive, and the food may be not so tasty.
All together (including the leader) went for a walk to Kaleici (old town) in the evening. I had already been there and had not received any impressions. We didn’t find any adequate restaurant there to dine, so we walked a long distance away from Kaleici and entered a small eatery, where, again, everyone was happy with the food and service. I tried a dessert called Künefe there, it is incredibly tasty!
While we were walking, the rest participants of our group landed.
Early waking, breakfast and start. Getting used to control loaded bicycles. The purpose of this day is to leave Antalya. Most of the way we rode through villages, vegetable gardens, past greenhouses. Agriculture is well developed there, this can be judged by the huge number of greenhouses with various crops.
The group got stuck as soon as we met the first backyard with pomegranate trees, everyone rushed to pick grenades and stuff their backpacks with them. As it turned out later, many of them were rotten.
Later, during the trip, we sometimes met gardens with pomegranates, and the group replenished the stocks of these fruits. To be honest, I was embarrassed by the fact that sometimes the guys were not even ashamed of being seen by the owners of the gardens. If I did, I tried to do it on abandoned trees. But I must admit that the pomegranates were delicious, sweet, not sour. In the future, we also began to meet grapes 🍇
In the middle of the day, a beautiful rock appeared on the horizon, and throughout the day it got closer and closer until we rode by. Towards the end of the riding day, there were almost no settlements, and light serpentines began.
We set up camp on a pleasant area in the lowlands between the mountains. A mountain river flowed nearby, in which we bathed pleasantly 🐳. The water was not too cold, and in places the river had depressions that looked like pools.
After passing quite a bit we visited a shop at the foot of the mountain. We bought supplies. I, in particular, bought a cola, just in case. And as it turned out it was not in vain. During the trip, I replenished supplies of this wonderful fuel at every opportunity, it gave a boost to fast energy. Although in ordinary life I do not drink cola.
Figs grew near the store. Ira plucked several ripe fruits from the tree. This taste is incredible! The saddest thing is that we no longer met trees with ripe figs. The saddest thing is that we no longer met trees with ripe figs. And it wasn’t in stores either 😥
Moved on. And the ascent began, which lasted all day. After a few turns of the serpentine, we stopped to wait for the tail. They had a breakdown, but it was good for us, because we stood near the boulder, on which we managed to take pictures. The scenery from this place was incredible! Mountains in the background and the play of clouds and light created a stunning view 🗻☁️☀️
Then we went up endlessly. I must say that the slopes of the roads in the mountains are very steep. So we moved not faster than a pedestrian, and spent a lot of energy. Faucets with water were often found. They often meet along the roads in Turkey, so there was no need to save water. At last we had a lunch break.
Rest areas are also found periodically along the roads. These factors make traveling in Turkey more enjoyable 🙂
After lunch, we were still driving upwards, until we finally reached the top of the mountain (but it was not yet the top of the pass). Unfortunately, not only the ascent, but also the asphalt ended at the top. Then there was a dirt road with stones. And nature had changed, gray rocks and junipers had appeared around. It was a bit like Karelia. Nothing to say, the landscape is beautiful 😌 There was a descent for a while, but then it turned into an ascent again. And the most unpleasant thing is that even there were almost no grounds, and there were only stones. They can roll when you run over them, and when you climb a steep hill, you experience true suffering!
Because backpacks are located above the rear wheel, there is almost no weight on the front when riding uphill. And as soon as you hit a stone, the front wheel flies up for a moment, at this moment you spend a lot of energy trying to maintain balance, and sometimes it succeeds, and you continue to ride, but sometimes the wheel goes to the side and you fall over. And after that to start in such a climb on such a surface, you have to make a lot of effort and concentration.
As a result, riding up rocks is incredibly exhausting both physically and mentally. You constantly think: “When will it end?!”, and when another rise opens around the corner, then morale falls more and more.
Closer to sunset, we found ourselves in high-mountain meadows, terribly exhausted. Cows were grazing around and junipers were growing in places. Having driven a little bit, the leader decided that it was necessary to set up a camp here, for it was getting dark. According to the plan, we had to drive another 11 km, we would not have had time to do it before dark.
Once we began to put the camp, 2 events happened. A local on a motorcycle rode up to the camp and tried to say something to Sergei. And a shower covered us. And a shower covered us. The local eventually left. And we managed to set up our tents without getting too wet.
We sit under the awning, waiting for the porridge to cook. And then that guy comes on a motorcycle. As if he hadn’t noticed the rain. As if he wasn’t noticing the rain. He came up to us and handed us a plastic box. He did not speak English, but was able to say: “No money”. We realized that he treated us. And we were very happy! For there were honeycombs! 🍯 We ate it straight out of the box with spoons. I broke my spoon on these honeycombs 😬 But the remaining piece was enough to use it for the rest of the trip. After sitting with us for a while and watching us eat honey, the guest retired home.
As soon as we finished dinner, the rain stopped and the moon came out. How bright it is! It was very beautiful, because all the meadows were illuminated by moonlight, enough to walk without flashlights.
Soon after the start we passed through a village, after which the ascent began again, again it was hard. And finally we reached the top of the pass! 💪🏼 Altitude is 1900m.
It was raining on the top. Before us was a 13 km long descent. The coating, however, did not please, soils with stones, and sometimes sharp stones only. Even though it was a descent, the ride was not easy, the stones were rolling, it was necessary to catch the balance permanently.
We were glad that with the drop in altitude it was getting warmer. And the rain quickly disappeared. The descent ended at an altitude of about 550m. We made a rest stop at a mountain stream. There was a clay sector during the descent. The quality of the clay is excellent when considered as a craft material. But! I came to hate it, because the bicycles were so dirty! We had to make an effort to wash bikes in the river, since this clay is not easily washed off with water. There was also a lunch near the river.
After this descent my brakes got yok! The front, the back still worked somehow. But any pressing on the brake was accompanied by a loud grinding, as if the locomotive was slowing down.
As soon as we got under way from lunch, Sergei got flat tire. I shot a quick tire change master class 😆
Then there were no special obstacles, we rode a little up, then down. It was beginning to get dark, so it was necessary to set up a camp. I don’t remember whether we rode less or more than planned, the place had to be explored to set up a camp. We did it in the field behind the hill so that it was not visible from the road.
It was the most beautiful morning. We were greeted by a fog through which the sun’s rays made their way.
Today, in addition to soils, there was also asphalt, the weather was excellent, so riding was a great pleasure. On this sunny day, the scenery was very beautiful, so even climbs were easier.
The sound of my brakes annoyed and instilled uncertainty, Yura promised to share pads at a rest stop. And the rest on this day was special! We came to Canyon Köprülü. An incredibly beautiful place! We were not in the canyon itself, but at the top, in such a place that we had a wonderful view of it. It was a tourist place, and we were not alone there, there were a lot of people there. It is scary to think what is going on there during the tourist season without quarantine restrictions. There we took beautiful photographs and sat on the rocks for lunch. My pads were replaced, so now I was confident in my bike, thanks, Yura 🙂
In the evening we arrived in a mountain village, where there was a store at last. Replenished with supplies (and cola). We had hardly left the town when darkness fell. Riding away from it, we had to look for a place to camp. After some time, we were lucky, near the road on the slope of the mountain there were abandoned tiers of leveled land. I think there were vegetable gardens at one time. Going down to the 3rd tier, we found ourselves more or less hidden from the road. Although I think the passing drivers noticed us anyway. But nobody bothered us, which is nice.
The first part of the day was extremely difficult. Asphalt almost immediately disappeared in the morning, turning into soil. But it almost immediately turned into mud, on which it was very difficult to ride. In addition to this, it was necessary to go uphill. It was tough! I even had to dismount. And at some point we had to stop. No, not to catch our breath. There was simply no road ahead 😱
An excavator was working around the next turn. And there was a collapse on the road before it. I think, a piece of the road was washed away by flow. We had to wait. But fortunately not for long, 15 minutes only. The workers saw us and the excavator quickly raked the slope into the hole in order to make at least some kind of crossing for us. They suspended the work, letting us pass the obstacle 🙂
Fortunately, after the excavator, the mud mush disappeared soon, there was a normal dirt road.
The ascent was long, about 13 km. After gaining about 750m in height, the road went up and down like waves, but on average at the same height. Enough days had passed, my legs got used to it and in general it was not difficult to ride. You could look around, enjoying the scenery, it was pleasing.
Due to morning obstacles, we didn’t have time to reach the planned place before dark. By the way, our delays were explained not only by the fact that we were slowly overcoming obstacles. But also the fact that due to quarantine we have postponed our trip by several months. And the daylight hours at this time of the year were 2 hours less.
We rode along a dirt road, along which all kinds of concrete blocks and structures were lying, which indicated that road works were being carried out in the area. On the left there was a steep ascent of the mountainside, and on the right there was a steep descent (practically a cliff). It was not clear how to set up the camp.
But our leader is overflowing with experience, he saw on the right a small, more or less flat top of a hill with a rare forest. However, we had to lower our bicycles by hand down an extremely steep slope. Luckily, it was not very high.
This night turned out to be sleepless for some participants, since a little further along the road work was carried out during the night shift. Excavators rumbled so that we could hear it perfectly. They didn’t bother me much, I slept well after hard day 😄
In the morning we had to be rock climbers and haul our bikes and backpacks back onto the road. The sun was shining brightly, but the wind at our altitude was icy. We started the path with an upward movement.
We rode a little and met two bike travelers. Their tent was in a lawn right next to the roadworks. I think they slept less comfortably than we did 😅 They were Germans, their route was from Georgia to Germany. Our journey, compared to theirs, looks like child’s play.
After some time there was the top of the pass and then descent down. There was a lot of machinery below, heaps of sand and rubble, behind which a new smooth horizontal road started. We went along this road. What a pleasure it was to ride on this asphalt! Then we had to turn off this fresh road, but there was also good asphalt there.
We rode through a small but nice city. This one looked more decent than the previous ones. Here one could observe how the Turks traditionally build houses from stones. And there were also beautiful carved balconies and doors.
We decided to have lunch right outside the store. Lunch was of roll from the store and milk with cookies. There was no meat in the roll as we thought, there was some kind of lentil gruel, no one expressed delight. But the milk is delicious there.
It was the flattest day. The elevation gain was only 625m 😅 And the end of the day made us happy with a wonderful descent. It was steep and asphalt, we managed to ride there with a breeze, Strava showed 64 km/h.
I must say that paved roads in the mountains are usually made of a pressed layer of rubble glued to the ground with bitumen. Apparently this is a cheap technology, but in the mountains this quality is quite enough, especially considering that one car per day passes there. In general, it is not bad, but the road is well compressed in the middle, and along the edges gravel becomes loose. And this makes the covering extremely insidious. On the slopes, you can accelerate well on it, but where the loose edge begins is not clear, and when entering the turns I always tried to stay as far from the edge as possible. Fortunately, no incidents occurred on our trip.
The camp was set up in a lawn near a canyon (quite small if compared with what we visited earlier) with a mountain river. But, alas, the river yok! 😭 Has dried up. It was a shame, because it was very warm and sunny, and we wanted to swim.
A few other people and I decided to take a shower. But not in the remains of the river, which were smelly swampy puddles. A five-minute walk from the camp, there was a water tap by the road. This one was good as there was a long hose nearby. With its help, it was possible to go behind the bushes and take a shower, while you cannot be seen from the road.
The night was cold, and so was the morning. The tents were wet. Sergei and Yura slept in sleeping bags under the sky the previous night. Since the evening was warm, they decided to repeat this feat again. However, Sergey’s morning story told that he woke up at night because dew appeared on his nose. As a result, he woke Yura up and they set up their tent.
This day began with a serious climb, for 7 km we gained 950m. It seemed like it was hot after pedaling. However, I had to put on extra clothes soon, the day was not hot.
We rode up and down all day long. Today there was asphalt and a landscape of gray rocks with bushes and trees accompanied us. However, at some point, the landscape began to acquire yellow tones. Just at that moment we were approaching a small but decent town. Right at the entrance we were greeted by an amazing residence. Someone very rich lives there.
At some point, there was a lot of yellow around, and autumn began to be felt. Golden slopes, clouds and sun created very beautiful views 🍂
But then we dropped the altitude and everything turned green again 🌳 On the way, we came across a vine near the road. The guys grabbed grapes for everyone 😄
We set up a camp near the reservoir, right on a technical dirt road that led to it. We ate the grapes (it were very sweet!) And looked up at the sky. The forecast did not seem to promise rain, but the sight of the clouds made us play it safe, we decided to pull up an awning. And not in vain! We did not have time to tie it up to the end, as shower began! ⛈ There were even lightnings. However, we were lucky again, by the end of dinner everything was clear.
There was asphalt today. In the first half of the day there were two long climbs, in between which there was a city. But before the city we visited a waterfall… or rather, the place where it should be, because the waterfall is yok! It had dried.
We reached the city. This is already a real city, although a small one. We went to the shops to buy supplies. There were many shops here, and even there were fruits and vegetables! After the shops, we had to decide what to do next. We lagged behind the original plan, would not have had time to overcome the planned pass, so we had to choose one of the alternative plans.
While we were thinking, a funny local man came running up to us, looking pretty decent in his jacket. He was very curious about who we were and what we were doing here, but he did not speak English (especially Russian). Artyom talked to him, I just partly heard the conversation. Then this man asked if he could photograph us. Getting a consent, he ran away and quickly returned with an impressive DSLR camera. We posed for him a little, he took a picture with us and was happy 😄
After the city, passing private houses, we saw a couple of large vines on the ownerless territory. There was a long pit stop, we filled our bellies with very sweet grapes 🍇 I noticed that some houses along the road are abandoned.
Although we had eaten plenty of grapes, the ascent was exhausting us. In addition, it became cold and light rain began. Lunch was on a visit, so to speak. In one of the roadside gazebos of the serpentine, workers were resting and drinking tea. Whether they are road workers, or lumberjacks, I didn’t understand. They invited us to their place (more precisely, not us… they invited Sergei, since he was at some distance from us ahead, and when our entire team appeared around the turn, Sergei called us, they did not expect this 😆). There were carpets on the floor, and the gazebo had a roof of twigs with dry leaves. We were treated to traditional Turkish tea. But we cooked the rest of the food ourselves. Today, finally, there were vegetables, in the form of a salad.
The second ascent was over, which means that there was a descent ahead. It was long. With an altitude of 1230m we went down to 390m.
One more sight was waiting for us: a waterfall in a canyon. At some point, we had to move off the asphalt onto a clay-dirt road. We rode along the river. There were houses along this dirt road periodically, and somewhere houses were being built. Something was cultivated on the plots, and in the river we saw some kind of water paddock, we assumed that this was a fish farm. Apparently this is a fertile place, and people are trying to equip it.
The end of the road rested against a rock, which was one of the walls of the canyon along which the river flows. And the waterfall… yok! Yes, and here we were disappointed, the waterfall dried up. Sergey was here a year ago, he told that the waterfall had to be powerful and beautiful. Well… at least the canyon itself looked beautiful, it also pleased the eyes.
Spending some time in a such beautiful place, we drove along the same dirt road in the opposite direction. I rode not in the head of the convoy (it sometimes stretched for a couple of kilometers, since everyone was driving at a comfortable pace). At some point I saw a bicycle without a cyclist on the side of the road, coming to it I noticed some movement on the side near a tree. It turned out that a local man on a motorcycle stopped the guys and decided to treat them to persimmon from a tree 🍑 I got it too. It’s so soft and sweet that it just melts! It is a pity that there was little 😋
The camp was set up nearby, in a meadow near the river. This time we made a good fire as it was very cold 🔥
In the morning we went to the road and rode along an incredibly beautiful gorge. Somewhere below, a river ran parallel to the road. The day was cold, although it was sunny. We had ridden little, and an ascential serpentine began. We were already moving in the direction of Alanya.
Having reached the top, we rode horizontally for a while, and entered into the city. But we didn’t need anything in it, not even food, for we planned to get to Alanya before dinner. At the end of this city a long descent to Alanya began. And it really inspired us! Not even the descent itself, but the sea, which suddenly opened up to us! Big, shining! The day was sunny, and the rays reflected from the water blinded us! And the descent was also amazing, we managed to develop 69 km/h 🚴♂️💨
We descended from 850m to 43m. As we descended, it got noticeably warmer. The city started below, traffic got heavy. It had become noticeably uncomfortable to ride bicycles, as we had become accustomed to empty roads over the past days. However, we quickly got to the highway connecting Antalya and Alanya, it is wide enough, and cars didn’t bother us. At some point, the sea appeared on the right! The highway ran along the shore. And almost to the very hotel, it delighted us with its beauty 😌
We checked into a cheap apart-hotel. But our bicycles were covered with mud, we decided not to drag them into the rooms in such condition, we all went to a car wash together. For 2 lira (40 cents) you could wash 3 bicycles.
Dinner time was coming. But since it was still a day of travel, we decided to arrange the last camping dinner. After purchasing food we went to the beach. It was already dark and there were no people on the beach. There we cooked dinner in a cauldron on a camping stove.
After the bike trip
We still have a whole day left for free time. On this day we visited a local sight – the Alanya fortress. We climbed it by funicular, the ascent and descent cost 35 lira. After wandering around the fortress, we realized that there was nothing special about it, except that the sea view was beautiful. After the fortress we went to the beach to swim in the sea.
Lunch that day was arranged in a small family cafe. We deliberately went to a small street to find a restaurant where the locals eat. And it was the right decision, the food there is not very expensive, but delicious. The hostess was happy to suggest what this or that dish looks like (fortunately, she more or less spoke English), because the menu was in Turkish 🥘 But in the evening we had dinner in a large restaurant next to the hotels. It was noisy there (the Turk, who sang live, tried very hard, and in general he was good at it), we couldn’t hear each other, the food is expensive, and it can hardly be called tasty, the snacks were tastier than the main course.
Departure the next day. But the plane was in the evening, the transfer was ordered for the afternoon. We went to the same family cafe for breakfast. I tried a local dessert. It is called syutlach. So this is what I think, the gods has gone down to Turkish soil and taught the locals to cook this incredibly delicious dessert 🤤 Basically it’s a milk-rice pudding, sweet. Served cold.
After breakfast, I went shopping to get some tasty treats. On the previous day, I had already managed to buy something, but now I had my things packed, everything was weighed, and I knew how much more weight could be put into the luggage. And the most amazing thing is that I found the same sutlach in the most ordinary grocery store. I took a couple of it, however, since this dessert is quite liquid and in an aluminum mold, it is very difficult to transport it and not to crush. Even though it is sealed hermetically in polyethylene, at the airport I ate it with difficulty, the mold crumpled and everything inside spread out.
Due to the pandemic, our trip was postponed. Initially, we had direct flights. When the flights resumed, the airline changed the flight for us, now there was a connected flight, they say, air traffic was not fully restored, and there were no direct flights. And just before the trip, they again changed flights for us in such a way that the transfer was more than 7 hours 😱 And this is despite the fact that direct flights had already appeared 😠 The airline acted ugly.
To protect the bike, I wrapped it tightly with plastic, along the way wrapped some places with clothes, and placed it in the cover. Having landed in St. Petersburg and got my luggage, I looked into the cover, it seemed like the bike didn’t get any damage. However, at home I found that the trunk rack was badly bent and one spoke was broken. It means, there was a strong point strike. Of course, the airline didn’t listen, they say I didn’t make a statement on the spot, so it’s my own fault. Next time I will uncover and carefully inspect everything in the baggage claim area.
Turkey is a great country to travel to. Favorable climate, beautiful nature, many routes. Along with hiking, cycling is quite possible. Except that you have to be physically prepared to manage the relief. This was not my first trip to Turkey, and I am sure it will not be the last 😉
The values are from Strava, so the accuracy is so-so.
Total distance: 442.61 km
Max. altitude: 1 907 m
Total elevation gain: 10 203 m