A hard day into the Tarsus Mountains – Tarsus to Pozanti (81/14,543k, 1,750m)

(written by Nancy)

Okay, this is going to be a short post as we are both very knackered from today’s ride and we have to get some sleep so we can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

We made it out of the wild carpet room at the Selale Hotel after checking and checking and checking that we had not left anything, walking around the room like one of those guys with the metal detectors on the beach.  It would be easy to lose things in that room if something fell on the floor.  Breakfast started at 7am – the earliest we’ve had so far in Turkey.  When we got to the breakfast room this morning the reason became clear – there were tables full of what looked like road workers, all decked out in their work clothes, including fluorescent vests.  We fit right in with our own bright yellow vests, though theirs went with their blue overalls much better than ours did with our bike shorts.

Dave mapped out a way out of town where we would pick up with the main road we would be on for most of the day (the D750, the old highway).  The route was scenic, I’ll give him that.  It was also, however, out through the boonies on a semi-dirt road with lots of twists and turns and ups and downs.  Not sure we needed that on a day when we would have so much climbing anyway but oh well.  It did lead to a funny encounter with a group of men at a petrol station where we stopped to check our google map again to see just where in the heck we were at.

There were about 7 or 8 men sitting around the front of the petrol station office in little wooden chairs, chattering away like they seem to do everywhere here in Turkey.  As soon as we pulled over they called to us and motioned us over, hurrying to get us our own two little wooden stools and bringing us cups of tea.  One of the men spoke a few words of English and he tried to translate as the rest of them peppered us with questions.  It was quite funny and we did figure out from them that the route to the D750 was just up around the corner.  One of the men clearly asked us why we had come up the way we had, making a zig-zag motion with his finger, when the 750 came up directly from Tarsus in a more straightforward manner, demonstrating with a nice smooth arc of his arm.  I gave Dave a look – my point exactly, I tried to tell the man.  But, of course we would not have had this funny interaction with the men so perhaps things work out after all.

From the time we got onto the D750 it seemed like we climbed most of the way until we were about 20k from Pozanti.  There were a few small downhills but really nothing of any significance and the uphill just kept going, keeping us in our granny gear for literally most of the day.  It was hard climbing but it was scenic.  We climbed mostly through pine forests, and at several spots you could see where someone had done some logging, with the scaled logs piled haphazardly along the roadway.  There was very little traffic, as a motorway carries most of the traffic.  We could see the motorway for quite some time, and at one point decided to try it but we came up to some signs indicating bicycles were prohibited and we could see a toll booth station just up ahead so there wasn’t any way to sneak on to it.  So, we turned around and continued on the old highway.

There were very few towns or villages along the old highway so not too options to get food and water.  We did find one spot where we could buy some water but the only food they seemed to be selling was cuts of meat – they would BBQ them for you but we passed on that.  By about 1 or so we were both getting quite hungry so we stopped to eat some of the cookies we were carrying.  Not too nutritious but it took care of the shake for a bit and gave us a boost of energy to keep going until we found something more substantial.  We stopped at one place that appeared to be a restaurant but after a bit of back and forth it appeared they didn’t have much to eat – or perhaps just more meat.  They did tell us there was a place about 3k further on where could get some bread, so on we continued.

We finally came around a corner and saw a little market that looked like it had some bread and other things to eat, but unfortunately it was all locked up.  Hmm, nothing else to do but continue on.  Eventually we came upon what looked like a small restaurant with a fellow sitting outside on the deck.  Dave asked if it was a restaurant and he nodded his head and said yes, gesturing us in.  The fellow was on his own and did not speak any English but he was eager to help us as we tried to figure out what food he had.  He brought out a plate of porkchops – hmmm, no, we tried to explain that would be hard to eat and keep going up the hill.  Finally together we worked out a lunch of bread, yoghurt, cucumbers and tomatoes and fresh mint he ran down to cut from his garden.  And of course a tea to finish it off.  He sat with us and we tried to talk a bit, using google translate back and forth.

It was just what we needed, and we were really excited when he seemed to say that we just had a bit more to climb and then we would have a nice downhill all the way to Pozanti.  I wasn’t quite sure I believed it, as we still seemed to have at least 25k to go but at least I could now see the possibility that we would get to Pozanti before dark!  After thanking him for his great food and conversation we took off climbing again, continuing through more pine forests.  And true to his word, about 5k from lunch we crested the top and even had a summit sign – the first one in Turkey.

From there it was pretty much downhill all the way to Pozanti.  We made our way through a couple of small villages, stopping at one to see if Dave could find some duct tape in a hardware store.  That turned out to be a bit of an adventure, as all the customers in the store tried to help, including the army folks (jandarma) who were there.  The jandarma guy was clearly the man in charge, as he ordered his underlings to run up and down the street to various shops looking for tape of any sort.  As surprising as it may seem, duct tape doesn’t seem to have made it as a concept in Turkey.  We finally extricated ourselves from all of their help – it was then almost 3:30 and we still had about 17k to go to get to Pozanti and we still were not convinced it was all downhill.

Well, it was all downhill and we finally rolled into town, exhausted but happy to be there.  We had read on other cycling blogs that the accommodation options were limited.  We didn’t see much as we rode slowly through town so we stopped and Dave went into the post office to see if he could get some help.  He came out with the name of a hotel, the Arikan Otel, and the directions and the guy at the local patisserie where we stopped to get some bread and more cookies for tomorrow said it was a nice hotel.  So, off we went.  It is a bit toward the edge of town and is a bit worse for wear but it is good enough for us given our state and at a relatively decent price.  Our room fronts the highway so it might be a bit noisy but I expect we will be too tired to notice.

We unpacked and then spent a comical hour or so having tea with the proprietor of the hotel (who spoke a little bit of English) and the guy who runs the gas station next door (who spoke no English but proceeded to talk to us very rapidly for the whole hour in Turkish).  By this time we were both ready to collapse and really wanted a shower so we finally politely excused ourselves from the friendly hosts.  After cleaning up we headed just down the road to a restaurant where we proceeded to eat ourselves silly in the hope that it will give us some energy for tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow, when we have to climb over a 1500m pass as we make our way to Nigde, about ~88k from here.  It may not be as bad as it sounds, as we are at about 850m here at Pozanti – though we did climb up to 1370 today we gave some of it back in that 20k of downhill.  I have already made peanut butter sandwiches in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the lack of food today and hopefully the big dinner and a bit of rest will return some of the energy back to our legs.  Regardless, I am sure it will pretty painful starting out.  We plan an early start in the hopes of getting into Nigde earlier than we got into town today.  Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny so we may have some very nice views as we climb over the pass to distract us.

Well, that actually turned out to be a longer post than I expected.  I guess it was just one of those days where you shake your head and think “did that really happen, did we really make it?”  I know the kilometers don’t seem too long but it was really a hard day and there were a few times I wondered whether we were actually going to make it here.  So, despite our less than stellar surroundings I am very happy to be here and not off in the woods somewhere!  Off to bed now.

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6 responses to “A hard day into the Tarsus Mountains – Tarsus to Pozanti (81/14,543k, 1,750m)

  1. It does indeed look very scenic and you are still smiling at dinner. Well done!

  2. And what about that carpet covered building? Did you eat there? What is the story?

    • That is the place we tried to eat but they had no food.  Either that or we just couldn’t get our point across.  It seems that most places up here want to serve you lamb chops, which as Nancy noted, are not so great mid-ride, especially with hills.  The carpet building folks were just getting their wood fired BBQ going as well.  I suspect that the chops would have been a while coming, which is another not so great thing when the clock is ticking and you fear being stuck wild camping in the woods.  It was a nice building all the same…


  3. Love the MERTEL sign!

  4. Wow, my legs ache in sympathy.

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