After four wonderful nights in Goreme it was time to leave, we said our goodbyes to the guys at the view Cave Hotel and set off up the hill to Uchisar. It’s a fairly steep climb and about 5km in length, the sun was already up and hot by the time we crested the hill and turned right on the main road to Neveshir. We had numerous toots from passing tourist coaches as they sped past us up the hill, they probably felt sorry for us, but they couldn’t stop and take photos…so who’s sorry now ?
The main road into Neveshir is slightly downhill but as you exit the town you pay for it with an even bigger hill going up, the views are as you’d expect….wonderful. Sadly though this is pretty much the only interesting part of the days ride because after that it’s flat and rather dull on the way to Aksaray, 95km of hot dull road. So it was left to an old man with a bucket full of grapes to end the misery, we’d just stopped to fill our water bottles from my spare bottle when he wandered over and thrust large bunches of very sweet grapes at us. My grapes rested on my handlebar bag brackets and I quite happily munched them as we rode.
Our journey as usual was broken into segments, we stop occasionally for snacks and drinks, the petrol stations out here are the travellers friends and we’ve always been well received and looked after by them and there’s generally free chai on offer to 😉
Before we left Goreme I’d been having issues with my rim tape, it’s started to cause punctures, now normally this wouldn’t be an issue but in Turkey it is, there just not that into bikes and there aren’t many good bike shops here. That said the owner of the restaurant we’d been using in Goreme gave us an address in Aksaray of a bike shop that might help. He’d written the address on a slip of paper and something else we couldn’t figure out. Anyway on entering this large city we stoped a guy at a petrol station and gave him the slip of paper. For the next 5km we followed him in his car as he drove very slowly so we didn’t lose him, he found the shop for us and just bid us good day and left….what a guy !!
So we’re in the shop and it’s obvious they can’t help, they sell motor bikes and scooters and some really bad bikes, but they haven’t a clue about rim tape. As we were leaving a young man helps with the translation and the next thing you know we’re following him on his bicycle around Aksaray looking for rim tape, despite his valiant efforts we didn’t find any and the best I could do was a roll of PVC tape !!
Mustapha our cycling friend then invited us for lunch, it was only Pide but it was good, we washed it down with fanta and water and then we tried to pay…not a chance, more genuine Turkish hospitality !!
We agreed to meet him for dinner at the same place on the condition that we’d pay, we turned up with baklava and fresh peaches and they provided the Pide and drinks…lucky we took gifts as yet again they refused to take any money, thanks guys we really did appreciate it !!
So having tried hard to help with the bikes, sorted lunch and dinner, oh, and found us a cheap hotel we bid goodnight to Mustapha who very gentlemanly walked us home…top guy !!
From Aksaray to Konya is 160km or 100miles, we’d decided to split it into two days and headed out into the flat lands that separate these two cities. The boredom was set to be broken by a caravanserais that we were looking forward to seeing but we passed through Sultanhani and the directions boards just stopped and we never found it. The day wasn’t going well and when there was not hotel at the halfway point it got even worse. We stopped at a petrol station cafe to get lunch and they told us there was nothing until Konya, it then dawned upon us that we were going to have to cycle it in one day. My poor old legs were already tired and I wasn’t that keen on the idea but there was not choice !!
Naomi as per usual just got on with it and I with my lights burning brightly followed in her wake, the miles or to be correct kilometres passed by slowly but within each peddle stroke we gained on Konya until finally we hit the outskirts. I was feeling a little more energised by now and with the Garmin pointing the way we headed into the city, man this was one day when the GPS really paid for itself !!
We stopped at the first hotel, we were both knackered and we just wanted to stop, why is it the first hotel is never the cheap one ? Oh well at least we’d made it and we had a day off the next day. Time for showers, food and bed, to tired for anything else and we can’t even get a beer to celebrate the fact that we passed our 30,000km mark on the way into the city. Konya is one of the most religious cities in Turkey and beer is really hard to find, no worries, we’ll just celebrate another day 😉
Our day off consisted of visiting a few museums, one that specialised in wood and stone carvings and one on tiles and ceramics, both museums were interesting as were the buildings housing them, I hope you’ll agree when you see the photos. We also visited the Mevlana Museum, home to the Whirling Dervishes and burial place of Sufi Poet, Rumi. Again, a wonderful building, lots to see and look at but also very busy, it’s definitely a tourist hotspot. Talking of hot, we were both sweltering in the heat and after a relaxing cold drink and a light snack in a shaded spot we headed back to the hotel until it cooled down a bit. We went out later for food and strolled in the direction on the Mevlana until we found a suitable place. It’s so much nicer to eat when it’s cooler, we find cycling in the heat relatively easy but walking around in it is really hard work !!
Konya to Seydeshir was our next ride, getting out of Konya wasn’t to bad as we made the effort to start early before the roads got to busy, well that and a few unexpected cycle lanes !!
The ride was wonderful, we were heading into more hills and the scenery was so much better than the last few days, hard work but so worth it. We started climbing almost immediately but once up the first big hill we stayed on a plateau pretty much all day and from then on it was just rolling hills with great views. We stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe, nothing more than a few old tarps and some plastic chairs but the Gosleme the lady made us was fabulous, loaded with good strong cheese and still hot…wonderful !!
From lunch it was plane sailing into Seydeshir, we found a hotel but were put off by the price and cycled further to find a cheaper alternative and succeeded, 60YTL and it included breakfast !!
We didn’t do much here, just rested and ate, we were saving our energy for the next days ride into Side. I’d checked the route elevation profile and it said it was 146km but the first 35km was all up hill from our 1100m to 1830m then once over the pass it looked as if it was 85km to the coast at 25m then about 25km along the coast to Side !
Well the climb up to 1830m wasn’t just one climb, it was three, first up a bit, then down, then up some more…well you get the picture, by the time we finally got to the top we were knackered and we still had 111km to go. And then it all went wrong, that lovely downhill all the way to the coast wasn’t all downhill, it was down a lot but then up a lot, six times we dropped serious elevation only to climb back up, sometimes 200 or 300m at a time. By the time we stopped for lunch at the 75km mark we were both ready to drop but were revived by good food and a few sweet drinks. There was an option to stop at a hotel a little further on but being the stubborn little sods we are we both agreed to carry on. If we’d known what was coming we certainly wouldn’t have done so, I’ve never worked so hard on a bike in my life, there was one uphill where they were just topping the road, hot tar followed by lots of large pieces of gravel, they’d laid it on so thick that as you peddled your rear tyre spun and you had to literally spin up the hill, tough going on a 60kg tourer !!
Anyway we finally had the downhill we’d waited so long for and the ocean was there in front of us, only 20km or so on a flat busy road separated us from the hotel we’d booked in Side. I’ve never been so pleased to arrive, that first beer barely touched the sides and the second and third followed quickly after, the host was quick with the food to, good Turkish Faye and lots of it, seems we’d booked a good place to rest up !!
Well more about Side and perhaps even a photo of the sea in my next blog, but for now, take care and keep reading 😉