What goes up must come down and back up again

I love a good quote, especially about travelling. I think I’ll try and start my next few posts with some of my favourites.

To move, to breath, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote: To travel is to live. – Hans Christian Andersen

Last night was cold, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t below zero, but it was close. A good test for my mediocre gear, I got some sleep so no worries. It was quite nice to get cosy in my tent.

It proved difficult to leave paradise, especially when there are peaks to climb. By the time we got our act together the valley below is covered in fog. Annoying that the views were hidden but I was happy with glimpses through the clouds.

Unbelievably the road was worse going down, I didn’t think it could be possible. It proved too difficult for me to keep control of the bike, which mean more pushy pushy. The going was so slow, we guessed this route might take a day but actually took 2 full days.

After a black spot of indifferent people, when we hit the main road people became their usual curious selves… Phew. Not sure what was going on in the last few villages, but happy order is restored.

After a great wild camping spot next to a roaring river, it was up up uphill again. Loads or beeping horns and friendly faces made the climb easy and it felt good to be on a real road (and not a poor excuse for one)… Unfortunately this didn’t last. In the Artvin region there is so much construction going on, mainly in the form of dams. The trucks destroy the road and the dam creates a scar on these beautiful valleys.

One thing that struck me today is the amazing diversity of Turkey. One day I was cycling in lush green mountains, the next in jagged barren valleys. One night it was freezing cold at night and I was wrapped up in my sleeping bag, the next my tent was a sauna. It’s incredible.

The bad roads took it’s toll on my tyres and once again I had a flat. It was the patch at fault, I’ve narrowed down these ongoing issues to rubbish glue, patches or the intense heat. One, or all of the above. After finding the only shade to inspect my crap tubes, we were joined by a few curious dam workers. One of whom thought it would be funny to throw mulberries at me while I was stressing about my inability to fix a simple puncture. Looking back it was pretty funny, although I didn’t see it at the time.

Cycling during Ramadan feels different. One of my favourite activities in Turkey is getting invited for tea, chatting with the old guys and practicing English with the children. Unfortunately, at the moment there is very little tea on offer and with an understandable lack of energy, the people haven’t engaged me like before. The mountain scenery is more than making up for the though.

The next big town before crossing into Georgia was Ardahan. This would be a good chance to shower, wash some clothes, fix my bike and take a rest after a week of punishing cycling. We were lucky enough to find a couchsurfing host and do all of the above while making a new friend – cheers Uur!

This could be my last post in Turkey. In case you didn’t realise, I love this country. The diversity of landscapes, delicious food and most of all the people have made this an unforgettable journey. I’ve had so many random encounters with kind, funny and generous people. These people are fiercely proud to be Turkish and want every visitor to love it as well. It will be strange not speaking Turkish and I’ll be sad to say goodbye, but Georgia here I come.


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