The most beautiful road in Turkey?
3 days of doing absolutely nothing in Trabzon was a good move. I visited the Iranian embassy to see if there was any way I could charm the visa lady. Unfortunately I’m not very charming, it didn’t start very well when she called me a British spy. I’ve been having all sorts of problems with my inner tubes. My new tyre didn’t arrive and now I’ll have to wait until Tbilisi before a package can be sent to me. I went about changing the back and forth tyres but by doing so I created numerous punctures, basically had a shocker.Flat tyres are not similar to waiting for a bus at all, but once you get a flat, they keep on coming. On the way out of Trabzon I got another, the upside of all these issues is that I’m now like the pit team for Ferrari F1 at changing a tyre.
Andrew and I hatched a plan to take a road of unknown quantity. We found some pictures on Google and it looked stunning. It would mean three 2800 metre passes over the next few days, just what the doctor ordered after a few days rest.
The first day took us 100km to the famous Uzun Lake, which turned out to be a tacky tourist attraction… Neon lights and all that. We arrived just before dark and quickly found a picnic area to pitch up. The lake might not be my cup of tea, but the surrounding area was stunning and I was excited to see what tomorrow had in store for us.
We started ascending and the road quality was great, this quickly turned to bumpy but OK, then it just got shit. On the way up with bumped into Alvarro going back to Uzun Lake. We had met in Trabzon and he hitchhiked his way up to these mountains. He told us the route we wanted to take looked seriously difficult and wasn’t sure if we could make it. That got me excited.
This was a real climb. Without a doubt the hardest on this trip, made more difficult with the crap roads. My wheels were going all over the place and at times it became too difficult. For the first time on this trip I needed to push the bike for a prolonged period of time. Nothing wrong with a bit of “pushy pushy” now and then.
On the way up we passed a few small villages. This being Turkey, I expected the people to be super inquisitive and curious. Strangely, they weren’t. Maybe they were hungry (it’s Ramadan) or maybe they see 2 sweaty cyclists making slow progress on their dirt road everyday, who knows.
I pushed and cycled and pushed then cycled and eventually the pass was within sight. Well, it would have been if the clouds haven’t descended into the valley and blocked all views except from the road. But we made it…. 2850 metres – the highest on this trip so far and every bead of sweat was worth it. After having only steep mountain side and road all the way up, we were unsure where we would find a place to pitch our tents but the pass provided the perfect wild camping spot… No people, amazing views and even running water.
We cooked up some rice, sat in a nice spot to watch the sunset and gave our spoons a cheers! This is what you cycle the world for.
So… If you’re ever in Trabzon and want to avoid the boring main road, head to Uzungol then continue onto Arpaozu