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The road to Ankara

The road to Ankara Posted on December 4, 20116 Comments

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m very nearly asleep, and should probably wait until I’m capable of stringing a sentence together without losing half of it in the process.

It’s been a tough – and wonderful – few days. I’m a good way inland now, and the weather’s starting to get properly cold, though it will get a lot worse before the winter’s out. And it starts to get dark at around 4.30, which means I have to get up and on the road by dawn if I want to cover any sort of distance.

And for the first hour or so it’s icy cold, and my hands are in agony after packing away a tent covered in frost, and then riding into the freezing wind. This morning I remembered just how painful frozen fingers are (something I always forget from wınter to winter) as I battled up the first hill, my arms tensed all the way up to my shoulders in a vain attempt to alleviate the agony.

But then, magically, the day starts to warm up and the pain begins to fade.

If I’ve been on the road since six, I’ll normally stop to warm up over a cup of tea – and maybe some breakfast – at nine or ten. And because everyone in Turkey is lovely, this is frequently on the house. Here’s today’s feast (wasn’t on the house, but they were still lovely).

And then, back on the road. And oh my goodness, the scenery has been spectacular lately! I’ve been riding through Turkey’s answer to Monument Valley – massive buttresses of rock, striped red and orange and yellow, and even green, interspersed with great craggy cliffs that look like they’ve been heaved up out of the ground by some geological cataclysm, and great flat-topped mountains, far away on the horizon, all rising out of a huge honey-coloured plain under a deep blue sky.

Of course, my pathetic little camera could never do it all justice, and most of the time I didn’t even bother trying. You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself someday.

And then, at the end of the day (or actually, only about two-thirds of the way through it) it’s a race to find a campsite and put the tent up before the sun goes down.

About ten minutes after this photo was taken last night the sun disappeared, the moon, which had been hanging impatiently in the sky for several hours, began to blaze, the temperature rapidly plummetted, and I settled down for another night of cold feet and condensation.

And today, after two more mountain passes and far fewer suburbs than Istanbul, I rolled into Ankara, filthy, happy, and so tired I’m surprised I’ve stayed awake long enough to write this.


  1. The food looks gorgeous and fresh. The road looks empty but smooth, the landscape dry and barren. The mountains look high and your bike looks heavy, but it stands out bright and green against the dusty, brown hills.

    And no, I don’t really want to go and see it for myself, not now, but I can’t imagine it being anything other than greatly enjoyable, even if tempered with a bit of pain. And I hope the people stay lovely for you all the way to the end of the world.

  2. What a great landscape you’re cycling through. What kind of (printable) things are you doing to entertain yourself through the dark hours? I guess you’re cooking and eating and thinking about food; do you have a light you can read your kindle by?


  3. Hi ! Good to see your moral is at the top again. Winter is here in western Europe, too, event if it hasn’t been harsh yet. Your pictures are very inspirational, thanks for sharing these moments.

  4. Wow, I am in awe – cycling through the cold and camping at the roadside. That’s my idea of hardcore! The closest we’ve come on our trip to anything like this is hiking in the rainforest and sleeping in a treehouse – but we didn’t have to build the treehouse and it was nice and hot, so I think you win! I like the look of your breakfast, very carb-happy 🙂

  5. OK, understood that the landscape is 10 times more awesome than the photos suggest, but the photos are still pretty awesome. Please keep snapping!

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