From Ankara in the center of the country we head towards the coast. Soon we can go sunbathing, swimming, cycling downhill from about 1000 meters of altitude down to zero. This will be an easy and relaxed ride. Unfortunately we are wrong.
The coast is far too cold to swim and too cloudy to sunbath and on the entire way we have to fight against a strong wind. Apart there is still a couple of hills to climb, but nothing as hard as climbing up on the plateau of central Turkey. Worst for us is the wind. We have to even pedal hard when the road goes downhill. We are both exhausted and irritated but as always it is the people who bring us back to the happy life.
There is Ahmet and his family who has a sheep farm and allows us to camp in it and asks us to join them for dinner. The next day we find ourselves riding again. On our way there is a couple on a tractor that pass through us waving and smiling. One hour later they find us again on the road smiling and waving with two ice-cream sticks they bought for us, unbelievable.
Later that night, there is the young adult who allows us to camp on his field and who wakes us up in the night with a friend, a big bottle of coke and some cookies. We wake up early and make another 60 km or so. That night we find a very friendly man with three dogs who lets us camp in his cow field and comes in the morning to have a talk.
The next day, the ride is not easy. Roberto has a lot of problems with his rear wheel. The wheel is loosing constantly a lot of air, maybe because we did not put the patch the right way. As we reach a small town about 100 km to Samsun, Roberto stops to ask for help and a group of people come to his aid, carrie his bike into the truck of a very friendly man, help Annika with hers and take us to the nearest bike mechanic.The bike mechanic takes a lot of time fixing Roberto’s bike and does not accept money afterwards. We pay him and his children with cake instead.
All those people cheer us up and we forget about the flat tires, the fights we had, the wind, the uphill and the bad mood. Whoever we ask if there would be a lot of “rampa” (uphill), answers us that from now on it will all be “düs” (flat) until Samsun. Unfortunately this is never true. I do not know if they say so to motivate us or if they really think it was flat compared to the far steeper roads around. Apart most people move by car and do not even recognize hills below 10 %. Just before we have to hike up 500 meters of altitude a young man is sure it will be “ … all flat till Samsun. You will even go downhill in the End!”.
The landscape changes with every day. We cycle through open steppe, red dust and soil, plenty of potato- and onion fields, fairy chimneys and the closer we come to the coast the greener the landscape. Entering Samsun the wind is as strong as on the first day and all the following ones. We cannot really enjoy the downhill towards the sea because the road is under construction and we are squeezed on the side of some trucks whose drivers blow their horns and make quite a stir so that we cannot even open our eyes to see the many potholes. When the road gets better the protecting hills around us are gone and the hard wind comes back. We have to climb one last steep hill and then we made it. We have crossed Turkey from south to north.
We spend the night watching movies in Roberto’s Laptop and eating far too much junk food and coke.