Coastal road diversion….

6 08 2010

‘It’s how long?’ – ‘4k!!’…….. ‘A 4k tunnel! With all the busses and lorries …. sod that for a game of red lorry, yellow lorry. Let’s take the high road!’

If you want to get between Unye and Ordu, two key locations on the Black sea coast, you either take the 4km tunnel between Fatsa and Ordu or you take the old coast road. Interestingly (and maybe worryingly) our ‘up-to-date’ Rough Guide map doesn’t have the tunnel route marked (?!).  Eager to steal a bit of respite from the thundering (and thus far, purringly flat) E70 we swung left at Fatsa to follow the old coast road out to Yasun Burnu. As with our previous sojourns off the highway the difference is immediate and palpable. The rattling fear that crunches through your jaw every time an interstate bus cuts a little too close, the constant sense that you are riding a great imposition of a road that rapes its way through the otherwise sedate and rural lives of the local people; Gone in a sigh. For once a road that roles with the contours of the hillside; that makes you work the inclines but rewards you with constant mountain shade,  swooching descents  into picturesque little fishing villages, and locals who call out to pile you with great handfuls of fresh findik – hazelnuts [that bit may be seasonal..].  It’s a super day’s cycling but commitment is needed as there are no ‘otel’s’ between Fatsa and the relaxed little seaside town of Persembe. However there are plenty of watering holes along the way and once you arrive in Persembe you can relax in a sea front restaurant stuffing yourself full of fresh fish, local meze and Ayran to replenish lost salts!

However there is a price to be paid; the cost is the ever present ‘effort to distance-travelled’ ratio. Yesterday (Wednesday) we covered 88km, from Samsun to Unye, in 6 hours and today we only managed a hard fought 62km in 5 hours (in both cases before the midday heat drove us off the road).  I guess this is the constant dilemma of the long distance cyclist; we are not on holiday, we don’t have the luxury of the idyllic meander. We have a responsibility to get to Thailand in 9 months; we have to shake a leg, grit our teeth, and do the do. If we have free days or free time there is the constant business of trying to contact schools or getting out talking to people about HIV/AIDS.  Can this only be done in big towns and major cities? Yes, more people are likely to speak English, but quite frankly I’m not sure if communication needs to be that verbal for meaningful opinions to be aired.  Every time we stop, and little conversations break out, we show our magic letter, which usually illicits much shaking of hands, bringing of drinks, presenting of cloths and, on one occasion, offering of cigarettes (?!). Often time’s people will then share their thoughts and feelings about the impact that HIV/AIDS is or isn’t having on their lives or in their country. Through the use of the magic letter, our faltering Turkish, their faltering English / German / French, our blow-up globe, and a good few choice hand gestures, opinions are usually clearly enough made.  Maybe they will go home and tell their families about the scruffy loony cyclists they met that day and maybe they will mention HIV/AIDS and maybe they will know that it’s important enough for us to shake our legs and grit our teeth and clench our jaws every time a bus passes too close. ….And maybe, with some miles under our belts, we can do some of that on the littler, hillier, roads too.



2 responses

6 08 2010
nick rawling

Cheer up!!!

7 08 2010

it was the gas station blues! .. waz up wich ewe mr?

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