(written by Nancy)
The aim this morning was to leave a bit earlier than usual, given the long day we had planned so we were up at 6:15, packing and eating our oatmeal for breakfast. I think the people on duty at the hotel were a bit confused when we didn’t stay for the free breakfast but we needed to be on the road before they started serving.
The first 20k or so was generally flat as we made our way out of Didim and headed to the first of our ‘shortcuts’ that Dave had picked out on the maps. We turned off the main road at a little town called Akbuk, with the intention of taking a road that ran over a mountain to Kazikli. The alternative was to take a route that went out around a peninsula and was about 10k longer. Google maps had a bit of an aberration on the road between Akbuk and Kazikli as it didn’t’ show the road going all the way through. The road passed through two ‘counties’ (or Turkey’s equivalent) and the road on the map did not quite line up on each side of the county line. However, when we looked at it in satellite view last night we could see that it did seem to go through. We stopped a couple people in Akbuk to ask and got confirmation that the road we were on did go all the way through to Kazikli. ‘A bit hilly though,’ we were told. Hmmm….
We also had the first of several dog incidents today in Akbuk when Dave had to stop and get off his bike to avoid a dog. Turkish dogs generally seem to be very big – not sure what the breed is but they are tall and pretty beefy. They can be pretty aggressive, and it seems like many of them wander about off leash. Like many dogs they get excited by the bicycle wheels and the motion of our legs so when they start at us we can usually get them to stop if we stop and yell at them. The tricky part is to try to see them before they see you. After the first couple of dogs today I finally stopped and put some rocks in the front part of my handle bar bag. I may try to find a stick or something to carry with me – be good to whack one or two on the head to teach them a lesson though my luck I’d probably crash trying to get the stick out!
The road from Akbuk snaked its way through pine forests and there was very little traffic, other than a couple of trucks heading up to what looked like a gravel pit at the top. It was not long – only 4k or so, but it had some pretty long steep sections. Dave registered 13% on his computer. We started to see jumbles of lumber on the side of the road that had been cut into large sections and stripped of its bark. As we continued up the climb we heard a guy kind of yelling up in the trees – we couldn’t see him but could hear him. Then out of the forest, down a steep bank, comes a donkey that was pulling a chain wrapped around several of these logs, with the fellow behind him whistling him along.
We made our way down into Kazilkli over very bumpy roads – no letting go of the brakes on the way down. It was a very small little town and the road became very narrow as it weaved through town. Most of the inhabitants seemed to be sitting out in the sunshine chatting away. At one point I rode through a group of men congregating on both sides of the road having their tea and it got very quiet. I said hello (merhaba) in Turkish and they smiled and said merhaba back – kind of fun.
We stopped for a quick snack at the next little store we saw and grabbed some juice and cake. The proprietor of the store brought out a box of something to show us – turns out it was full of little chicks. Then some little boys came over near us – we had watched them slowly make their way toward us. Dave motioned for them to come over so he could take their picture and they were more than happy to oblige. They gave us a big wave goodbye as we took off.
It wasn’t too long after leaving our morning tea spot that we hit the second hill. Arrgh, this one seemed even steeper. Dave’s computer hit 14% – it was tough. At one point I stopped to try to get my breath – you can only go so slow on a bike before you fall over. Dave rode on a bit and I may have accidentally uttered some swear words at this point. He finally stopped, pulled his bike over to the side and came back and gave me a helping hand. I should say that I was eternally grateful, and I was, but I was also questioning these bloody “shortcuts” that he finds on google maps!
We made our way down the other side of the pass – very scenic terrain but a very bumpy road so we couldn’t even get the benefit of climbing those hills. At the bottom we came to a T junction with one way turning down to the sea and the other way turning left and heading up another hill. We pulled out the phone to check the direction and, you guessed it, we had to turn left and start climbing again. We slowly climbed the hill, hitting 11% for a decent stretch. This was turning into a very hard day!
As we came down the other side of the third hill we saw lots of beehives, and even saw one fellow out working with the bees. There are lots of blossoms out at the moment – much of the undergrowth around the olive trees is filled with blossoming plants. There are also lots of wild lavender and rosemary plants in bloom alongside the road.
We finally reached the main road that ran all the way into Bodrum. We stopped at a gas station to refuel a bit and saw that we had about 40k to go from there. I think at that point it was already after 1pm and it felt like we had been riding up hills for hours and hours – which we had! Once we got on the main road (D330) we finally had some flat terrain for a bit and thankfully the headwind wasn’t too bad.
Once we reached Guvercinlik the road skirted a lovely bay and we could see the blue water of the Agean Sea. It was pretty stunning scenery and the shoulder on the road was wide enough that we didn’t have to worry too much about the traffic. We had some ups and downs and were still on the north side of the peninsula so we knew we would have a bit of a climb to get over to Bodrum, on the south side of the peninsula. The ups and downs were probably not much but after all the climbs earlier in the day we really felt them! We were very glad to finally come over the last hill and see Bodrum down below us. We made our way to the pension that we had picked out (the Myndos Pansiyon) and thankfully they did have a room that we could have for a couple of days. It seems like a nice little place, close to the water and the shops.
After cleaning up we headed out to get something to eat. There are some nice restaurants along the water and we splurged a bit at one and had a great meal sitting in the sunshine on the deck overlooking the water. This seems like a nice town to hang out in and there are a few sites to see as well. We are planning on taking a ferry across to the next peninsula and it doesn’t run until Tuesday so gosh, I guess we’ll just have to take it easy until then.
(Junior editor’s note: we climbed over 1340 meters today, the most we have on any day since I got this new fancy bike computer – in Nice. I have been officially informed by the senior editor that calling out the percentage of a climb, while still on the climb, is against tour rules – duly noted)