Day 188 – TURKEY: A lake named Akgol (Part 2)

It was windy during the night. I recalled seeing on the internet that the weather forecast for today was for snow. I have to get off this mountain.

I got up before day break, and battled with the cooker in the wind to boil some rice for breakfast. I checked my barometer often to look for any tell tale drops in pressure, indicating the oncoming of precipitation. It had only dropped 4 bar in the last 7 hours over night however, so I was safe for the time being.

As the sky grew light, I could see that the feared snow clouds had not yet appeared. A blue sky to aid my escape off the mountain to Ayancik.

I gave Akgol Lake one more longing glance before pushing my bike back to yesterday’s fork in the road. I studied the signs once again, while I filled my water bottle.

Now that’s odd, why didn’t I notice that yesterday?

On one of the signs that pointed to Akgol, was ‘Ayancik Belediyesi’ in small lettering. My Turkish phrase book told me that ‘belediyesi’ means city council.

The road to Akgol leads to Ayancik after all! I thought with jubilation. I re-resolved to go to Akgol, and then follow the road to Ayancik.

A moment of reflection (near Akgol Lake, Turkey)

(click on this photo for a very large version – look at the red Akgol sign,
you’ll see ‘Ayancik Belediyesi’ in black lettering)

Pushing my bike back past my camp spot towards Akgol was easier than the day before. With yesterday’s tyre tracks, I was able to push the bike without having to cut tracks in the snow.

The road going from where I camped to Akgol was for the first half what I had hoped. Snow shallow enough to be able to sit on the bike and roll down hill. This only lasted for about 100m however before once again the road went behind the trees, and the snow was in its full unmelted glory.

I repeated yesterday’s process of removing the front panniers and walking them about 1km ahead. I walked them all the way down to the lake.

There it was. Lake Akgol. In summer I imagine it must be quite the picnic spot. Today there was no one. The lake was frozen over. Massive chunks of snow had fallen from the roof of the adjacent council administration building, bocking the doorways.

Akgol Lake, Turkey

The road did indeed carry on down the valley next to the river. But it was such a tiny road. And covered in deep snow. Is this really the way to Ayancik? Perhaps the reference to ‘Ayancik City Council’ on the sign back up at the fork in the road was referring to the administration buildings.

I tried breaking into the administration building to try to find a detailed map of the area, but the windows were closed fast.

I was torn with indecision. Small road leading down a narrow valley, assumably to Ayancik. Deep snow to push a heavy bike through. If I turn back however I still have to push my bike back up through snow. A least I would know what to expect…

I decided that assumption being the mother of all stuff ups, I would turn back. I kicked the snow in frustration and yelled at nothing in particular. Or maybe I was yelling at common sense. Mr Common Sense, who always knows better, when I am so sure that the small snowy road goes down to Ayancik.

I firmly told me, myself and I that the decision was made. So I picked up my panniers and trudged off up the hill again to my bike.

As I walked I noticed the biggest footprints I have ever seen in my life. I would later learn that there are bears around Lake Akgol. Ignorance is bliss.

Bear prints near Lake Akgol, Turkey No one told me there were bears in Turkey!! (Akgol Lake, Turkey)

Once at the bike, I began pushing it back over the tyre tracks once again. The going was easy enough, but pushing uphill required a rest every 5 metres or so. It was going to be tough pushing the bike up yesterday’s hill, but all going well, I would be back on a clear sealed road by late afternoon.

Just as I rounded the corner to the fork in the road, I saw it. The most beautiful sight I had seen in two days. A huge grader was carving through the snow, leaving a beautiful clear road in its wake. A man was walking towards me with a small bore shotgun hanging over his shoulder.

The man didn’t seem at all surprised to see a foreigner pushing a bicycle-like contraption through the snow. I asked him which was the way to Ayancik. To the right, he motioned, and that was that. A true answer to my prayers.

A sight for sore eyes near Akgol Lake, Turkey

The road went over a small crest before easing into the most spectacular downhill ride of my life.. The road was mostly clear of snow, and went through villages that clung to the mountainside for dear life. Locals waved in confusion as I sped by. A little toddler saw me coming and ran for cover, sneakily watching me roll by from behind a fence post.

Inalti village, Turkey

The road descended down to join a road that followed the river downhill. A sign pointed upstream to a tourist spot called ‘Akgol’. That was the small snowy road that I had decided not to take, on the advice of Mr. Common Sense. I didn’t care any more.

Descent from Inalti village to Ayancik Town, Turkey

The riverside road was glorious. Walls of rock, waterfalls, steep hard packed road. The recumbent was in its element, only slowing for blind corners where the likelihood was high that a local would be speeding up the hill just as fast as I was speeding down it.

Descending from Akgol Lake, Turkey

(click on image for short video – video will open in new window)

Descent from Inalti village to Ayancik Town, Turkey

I finally reached a sealed road. The road that I would have been on had I just gone downhill yesterday rather than be lured down the road less traveled to Akgol.

I couldn’t help but think that it is indeed more worthwhile taking the road less traveled. You are sure to suffer, hurt, curse and get frustrated. But in the end you’ll always come out the other end with more than a tale. You’ll have spot in your memory that will always take your breath away every time you revisit it.

I bombed down the asphalt to Ayancik. I caught glimpses of the Black Sea as I descended. The Black Sea. I was euphoric. What on earth is a guy from the one of the southern mot cities in the world doing looking at the Black Sea with his own eyes.

I checked into a hotel (rain was beginning to fall) and washed my clothes for the first time in three and a half weeks.

18 Comments:

  1. I will always remember this quote of you for future cycling. Awesome !

    "it is indeed more worthwhile taking the road less traveled. You are sure to suffer, hurt, curse and get frustrated. But in the end you’ll always come out the other end with more than a tale. You’ll have spot in your memory that will always take your breath away every time you revisit it."

    Your stories brighten up my days ! Keep on cycling.

    Geetings,

    Wim.

  2. Thank you Wim.

  3. Great Story, go ahead taking the unbeaten tracks of blood sweat and tears. AKGOL! AKGOL! AKGOL! Cheers Akimoto

  4. You do have it all going on, don't you! Now Bears…. or swamp monsters I want to see someone trying to stuff one of them into a skip!

    keep going I told the bloke at Pinnicle about you and they said get in touch. Can't remember the chaps name but told them to look at your website so they might beat me too it…. regards from darkest surrey

  5. hi,

    while getting ready for my way going west, I am following your progress. You are doing great job with keeping updates and photos online so regular. Btw. do you travel with laptop?

    …And it is like reading my mind. Should be around where you are in about a year from now.

    Keep rolling and keep having fun.

  6. Urm I thought the bears would be hybernating in winter – the foot prints you saw were from the Gigantopithecus. Yes, must be!

  7. Hi Rob,

    I thought "the road less traveled" was the whole theme of this trip. No reason to start doubting yourself now…

    You just came up with some great lines for the inside jacket cover of your future book too.

    My guess is that if a bear saw a kiwi with a beard speeding at it on a recumbant bicycle the bear would run for the hills. I know I would!

    Take care.

  8. The Bear should be asleep the other post is right! Was probably the loch ness monster, or a bigfoot as bears have 4 feet? Don't they!

  9. The winter in the northern hemisphere is not that cold this season, as it used to be. Here in Germany the autumn and winter have been the hottest since recording. Have heard the same from GB and parts of the USA.

    So don't wonder if the bears don't sleep!

    I've made a similar experience on a transalp trip in 2003 together with my father. On the third or fourth day we were pulling and carrying our bikes uphill for 3 to 4 hours and downhill for another 1,5 hours: but it was GREAT!

    Take care and have fun!

  10. global warming is an answer to bears not sleeping, how come it's only got two legs? Or is that down to global warming as well?

  11. Wow. I bet your clothes appreciated the wash! Well you may have gone down the road less travelled, but as you say, you saw and experienced things that you would otherwise have missed. I admire your perserverance in the face of adversity. A lot of people would have given up way before.

  12. Turkey looks like a very beautiful place. I envy you being able to see the Black Sea. Do you know why it is called the Black Sea? Does it have anything to do with it's colour?

  13. Rob,

    I'm glad this part of your journey had a good ending. What kind of video camera are you using? Where is it mounted?

  14. Jim, the Canon Powershot A540 still camera that I am using for the videos (hence the shaky view), is mounted to my handle grips in the video. It is attached with an UltraPod mini tripod with the built in velcro strap.

  15. Marija, I don't travel with a laptop – not needed in this age of internet cafes on every street corner. If you load all your favourite software onto a USB flash disk, then you can load it onto the computer you are using at the time. The software that I use often is the Photo Stitching software for panorama photos (Canon PhotoStitch), Mozilla Firefox internet browser, and Flickr.com photo uploader (has built in photo resizing feature).

  16. Carl, I think old Nessie would be getting a little hypothermic in Akgol. Will get in touch with Pinnicle. Cheers for the heads up.

  17. Satoshi, a Gigantopithecus aye? You are quite the animalologist, aren't you.

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