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