Sinop – Hononu (127km)

Day 122: Sinop – Hononu (127km) – Distance travelled so far 7,196 km “The toughest day in cycling history- You got to read this one”

Ok, we set off from Sinop with well rested bodies. We are facing another 7 day slog to Turkeys capital, Istanbul. We have heard that todays cycle will be slightly challenging so with this in mind we set of at a reasonable time….

Leaving our cheap and cheerful hotel in Sinop – We loved this owner

Stopping for fresh bread before departing Sinop

Puncture for Brian about 30km in to the cycle..Boo hoo!!!

As usual we are a little sluggish after a rest day and it is pretty difficult to get back into the swing of things. After the pucnture repair, we ended up playing bottle rugby for an hour…Probably not a good idea when the terrain isnt in our favour and we have still approx 80km to complete!!

Bottle Rugby after the puncture…(Spent a good hour here playing roadside games)

….and the goals were; the end of the saddle and the red drinks holder….(This bottle looks on target Brian!!)

and Paul has a crack

Brian getting a spanking…Thank you Sir…may I have another!!!!!!!!

Paul owns these parts

Eating healthy…We reckon that cyclists are entitled to everything

Mark the Irish cyclist who is a well travelled toured (having cycled over 30 coutries) highly recommended that we stay off the coastal road to Istanbul saying that it had been the worst terrain he had ever experienced. However, we still felt that cycling by the coast would be worth the hard slog. This been said, after completing approx 45km of todays coastal route we belatately decided to take Mark’s intitial advice on board and head inland….

Love will keep us together

Winding roads start to give us the creepin willy’s!!!!!

Hill talk

One would think that we would appreciate the scenery!!!!

More hill talk….this time more worrying!!!

Paul arising out of the mist….at this stage point we were climbing huge mountain passes

We took this picture at what we thought was the summit…Idiots!!!

We had to cycle more and more up the mountain..with still no Hanonu in sight…Agghghh!!!

At stage of the “evening” (about 7:30pm) and with the night increasingly closer to us, we find ourlseves still on the saddles and yet to find magical Hanonu. Normally, we would camp in these circumstances, but having no food made us keen to push on to Hanonu.

A deserted village at the top of the hill….No stopping here

After 5 more kilomters of uphill struggle, we began to consider camping on empty stomachs. Dusk had now turned to night and with no signs idicating how far Hanonu was, we decided to flag down one of the few passing vehicles to inquire as to Hanonu’s whereabouts. With a mixture of absolute pigeon English and crude hand gestures, we deciphered that Hanonu was another 5km away. At this stage of the evening we had completed appox 90km of uphill hell. Maybe the hour we spent playing bottle rugby was not such a good idea afterall!!!!!!!!!!!

We cycled all the way from about 5 meteres right up to 1,350 meters today….

The climbing is all over

Now in full darkness and thinking that Hanonu is only down the road, we turn on the bike lights and proceed downhill to put to bed a very tough day indeed……but the day did not want to go to bed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..FECK IT ANYWAY!!!!

5km – no sign of Hanonu – What was that driver talking about!!!!

10km – no sign of Hanonu – Hands freezing cold – starting to bucket down rain

15km – still no sign of Hanonu – Freezing Cold, soaking wet – pitch darrk – God this is torture!!!

20 kilomters later, we reach the junction where the town of Hanonu was meant to be (according to our map). Devastation appears before our eyes when we finally see a sign for Hanonu which reads Hanonu 14km. It is now 9:30pm and we have been on the saddles close on 9 hours!!!!!

After quick deliberation, we decide to hop back on the bikes and end this blasted Hanonu Hunt, thus putting to sleep Day 122 – The worst day of our cycling history….We arrive into Hanonu at 10:25pm – find a Teachers house and fall into bed..

Lights out and good night

Sinop (Rest Day)

Day 121: Sinop (Rest Day) – Distance travelled so far 7,069 km “Rest day”

Since our border crossing into Turkey, we have cycled approx 1,400km with only one days rest in Erzurum, so today’s break in Sinop is well deserved. We decide to roam around catching some of its sites…Enjoy the pics

1
Nice and Chilled with a cup of Cha

1
Tea with the locals

1
Drying the tent


Getting the vessel ready for Summer sailing


One man and his thoughts


Amid a castles ruins


The cliff side walks are propped up like this….(looks dodgy!!!)


Ur thinkin it!!!!


Pier fishing in Sinop


Selling Simit (sesamey seed buns) on Samsuns coast

Bafra – Sinop (115km)

Day 120: Bafra – Sinop (115km) – Distance travelled so far 7,069 km “The Summit to Sinop”


Patchy work from the boys

We have found that the road conditions in Turkey have ranged from ridiculously course tar and chips to silky smooth tarmac. As we have mainly been on secondry roads, the quality has generally been below par. The Turkish road maintainence personel seem to have the same mentality as the Irish, ie “find a hole, patch it up”. We hate these harsh roads as they play havoc on our already thread bare tyres….


Fish anyone???

This poor driver finds out that his load of tiny sardines (we dont know what they were!!) was starting to break out the back door of the truck…..It was a pretty funny sight and we observed for a good 20 minutes obviously waiting for the door to bust open!!!!. With no prospects of this happening, we decided to ball on towards Sinop


Under pressure!!!


“Push over Nemo..we are like sardines in here!!!!”


This little boy ran beside us for a couple of kilometers


Yet another small village (about 60km from Sinop)


Break time for Thaireland….Cha always features heavily


on the road to Sinop…slight headwind and a little chilly


Paul being attacked by a dog!!!


Come here Cujo!!!…Good boy…good boy!!!!!!!


Turkish dogs are just massive!!


Sinop is gettin no closer….and its gettin a little hilly too….Aghhgh!!!


On route to Sinop


Coule be rural Ireland (Well it could be!!)


I spy with my little eye..somethings beginning with “S”….(It’s Sinop right!!)


Spotted this bad boy 5 kilometers from Sinop

Samsun – Bafra (101km)

Day 119: Samsun – Bafra (101km) – Distance travelled so far 6,954 km “Still chillin by the sea”

Paul tasted couchsurfing last night and reckoned that it was damn good. Hopefully there is much more to come. Thanks to Can for hosting…Keep in touch my man and remember that milky tea is good too!!!!


Departing next morning to meet Brian and Mike (a little tired from a late night out!!) (Can, Osam, Paul and Frat in the front (a funny guy who had only 3 words of English)


Ekmek = BreadThis is a very important word in our questionable volume of Turkish vocabulary


Long rolling roads to Bafra and nice and sunny to boot

Mike and Brian set off after a harsh nights camping to rendez-vous with Paul in Bafra.


Brian and Mike come across a group of Turkish cyclists….Didn’t stick the pace though!!


Turkish farmers farming with other fellow farmers on the farm


Rolling into Samsun and onto Bafra


Impressive Bridge in Samsun


Cay time in Samsun


Markets amid the streets of Samsun


Brian tries out a new set of wheels!!


The nice beaches of Samsun


Coastal cycling


There is a prayer call (sort of like the angelous) 5 times a day here in Turkey

Tirebolu – Ordu (92km)

Day 117: Tirebolu – Ordu (92km) – Distance travelled so far 6,737 km “Living the Black Sea Dream and The Beautiful Ordu”

We feel good after our nights camp, although raking the sand before setting down the floor of the tent would have been a good idea (black sea sand is harsh!!). We live and learn……Ok, not to whinge, we have got something very noble on our sides……ie, Coastal roads rule!!!!! They are as flat as a plate and with the sea-side constantly to your ride hand side, you really cannot really ask for much more.


Leaving our camp-spot by the beach (about 8am)


Mike admiring The Black Sea


Some nice walkways/promonades in these parts


Flat roads…good tarmac, pleasant weather and coastline…..a cyclist’s dream!!


Steady as she goes!!


A Mosque in the distance – Hugely important landmark in Turkey


Entering Ordu


Promising signs for Ordu we think!!


Today Ordu – Tomorrow Samsun


Kebab time in Ordu (Brian had a full chicken!!)

 

Torul – Tirebolu (101km)

With approx 80km to complete to reach our first sights of sea/beach in nearly 4 months, we felt really exited. Its going to be a “free-wheel” down to the coast and from then on its flat coastal roads to look forward to…Easy Peasy!!!!!!!!!!


Leaving Torul…Gentle undulating hills..Perfect cycling


Extremely mountaineous terrain…..Rockslides are also very common throughout these valleys

Enjoy some more Turkish scenery in the remaining pictures


Came across this cool rope bridge on our way down


Brian going “loco” on the bridge


Fantastic views from these hills – Rope bridge below


Taking advantage of the huge river that has been beside us since Bayburt


Mike being daring


More Hydro Electric stations – Paul with slightly crazed look!!


Brian fools around on an incomplete rope bridge


Waterfalls galore – (this picture doesn’t really do it justice)


Braving the foot-bridge (incidentally this did not form part of our route today)


Not the safest bridge to be crossing


Yeahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

It was so great to have finally reached water. Remember all those countries (Thailand, Laos, China, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Iran) We celebrate by purchasing a couple of Efes beers (Turkey’s primary choice) and head to a another side of the beach to camp….What a day!!!!…… Enjoy some of the pics


Stone skimming never gets old…..


Beach sunset at our camp site….and all for free!!!


No camp is complete without a raging campfire….Missing the guitar now!!! (Hope that young lad is making good use out of it in Laos)


Mike gets some music on the go – Paul works on the fire rockery

Bayburt – Torul (102km)

Day 115: Bayburt – Torul (102km) – Distance travelled so far 6,544 km “Mark Doherty”

Ogretmen Evi’s rock!!!!!!!!….. Here we are pictured below with Jan. What a very generous thing to have done for us. Loaded up to the very gills with our buffet breakfast, we hit the roads again. Par excellent!!!!


Thanks again Jan – Ogretmen Evi’s are not to be underestimated…


Moving out of Bayburt…Nice views of the city from the road above


Great pride in their counrty. There are national flags everywhere in Turkey.


“….its a fairly precarious place for a nest mate..” youll be draggin all them twigs up for nothin!!!


Must have spotted a better nesting area yonder the hills


Attention!!!!!!!!!!…..Mike spotted this little prairie dog on garrison on route to Torul….


A child herding cattle


Those clouds look menacing….The decents aint bad though!!!

When you’ve been cycling as long as 4 months, we have nearly seen it all…..Well not quite…..Picture this….Its a very cold, wet day with oodles of thunder and fork lightening in the air. Pedalling away, we suddenly see a cyclist (straight away you can spot a tourer…pannier bags etc etc).

Both cyclists stop and then you hear a pretty distinctive “How r ya!!!”…………..There is no way this guy is Irish!!!!!!!!!……………Well you would be wrong!!!!!!!!!!!


Mark Doherty..A very Naas man indeed…

Mark is attempting to circumnavigate the globe using his “rothar” as his main mode of transport with the ‘dream Plan’ being to circle the globe in around 2 years. Please check out his amazing adventure…. -www.globalcycleride.blogspot.com

We spent a good hour and a half chatting away and swapping info on routes etc….It was an awful shame we didnt meet in a town/city. We will have the Turkish Cay boiler on accompanied with some Ekmek and Nutella when you arrive in Shannon and into our parts in East Clare….Best of luck boss…


How’s my driving?….Nice touch chief


Onwards to Torul…Downhills anyone?


Opting to go through Gumushane and head for Torul…Just lashed rain prior to this pic


Flying through tunnels


Sometimes hot…then cold…then a little chilly..Hard to get things right on the ould bike


The roads are fairly course…Not good for wearing tyres


The roads are slowly rolling down to The Black Sea…Perfecto!!!


Turks love their colours


Reached Torul…Remains of a defense Castle on the hill..How she is still standing is anyones guess!!!


Albert – This guy was so helpful in Torul…Bargained down the only hotel in Torul just for us.

Askale – Bayburt (72km)

Day 114: Askale – Bayburt (72km) – Distance travelled so far 6,442km “Climbing to 2900m and The Free Hotel Bedroom”

Another day…another dollar….Well…you get the general gist. We felt refreshed after our great night in Askale. Playing basketball did take it out of us though….Are we getting fit at all!!!!! Basketball as an aerobic form of exercise most certainly turned us into questionable trio of athletes….


Knowing that the big beast of a mountain looms ahead


Ascending


That ring around the mountain is where we have to go…For feck sake!!!!


Did we just do that?….Brian takes a snap of the road way on down below


Quick pause from Michael


Very far from completion but a good job never the less….


Little by little….Still more climbing ahead Paulo


….and then she said to me….”..and when did you start wearing my dresses!!!”


Rolling strong Brian…..


At last….The Summit….Approx 2900 meters

It was hardly on a par with an Everest Expedition, but cycling up the equivelent of three Mt Carrantuohill stacked on top of each other. We feel that it wasn’t a bad early morning work-out.


Great work out that!!


Ride the luck when it comes your way….(even though it’s 6km!!)


Mountain Wolf – Truckers said they shot it…

We have seen plenty of signs with regard to warnings of wild wolf. There are also bears and kangols to contend with. Yikes Scubby!!!


“and did you hear they were refused planning permission!!”


Pimp my bike…

Now to find some reasonably priced lodgings for the night….Oh Teachers House….Where are you?

What in the HELL are these teachers houses?????

Teachers houses or Ogretmen Evi are quassi hotel/hostels in nature. They house long distance commuting teaching staff and serve as the epicentre for many social activities in the town/city (ie, card games, chess, back-gammon etc etc). We personally find them great because they are clean,cheap, warm and offer wi-fi. We can get also get away with a little more ‘arm twisting” (viz a viz bargaining) in comparison to a cold and hostile hotel/hostel with their crazy tourist prices…

Hopefully we can find one tonight?… and we damn right did…..for free and all!!!!

A kind genrerous man by the name of Jan (which we think to be the owner of the hotel) invited us to stay as his guest for as many nights as we wanted. Turkey just gets better and better…..Breakfast from 8-10 least we forget!!! ha ha….What a score for Thaireland………

Goodnight

The Lads

 

Erzurum – Askale (51km)

Day 113: Erzurum – Askale (51km) – Distance travelled so far 6,370 km “The Teachers House”

As with all the rest days…they quickly pass like a storm cloud but always leaving the stark realisation that a little black saddle has your name on it for another 4-5 days….With that delightful thought in our noggin’s, we hit the road with a false sense of optimism for the day….


Leaving Erzurum…..Ughhghg!!!!…”Would love another rest day!!”


The roads remain the same


Brian spotted this class Turkish inscription in the mountain


Glorious Turkey……..Mike’s bike (which looks like it has a newly added flagpole)


Students in Askale…They went nuts when we arrived


You talkin to me!!!


The local kids were delighted that we came out to play basketball


Team Turkey – These bhoys were our entire opposition!!!!


Hardy young lads….They didnt spare the challanges on us!!!


Our thoughts on the basketball


Thaireland pictured with a self procalimed Wayne Rooney look-a-like

Horosan – Erzurum (83km)

Day 111: Horosan – Erzurum (83km) – Distance travelled so far 6,319 km “Meeting Blackbeard and a Spanish Enquisition”

Spent a fine night here in Horosan. Cheap room and free reign of a wi-fi connection which is becoming increasingly more common these days (Great to upload the blog…..and brilliant for downloading Seinfeld episodes!!!!)

Next door to our hotel is one of the most famous barbers in Turkey…….We understand that the owner has the current Turkish record with record to his facial hair….Check this badass out!!!!!


Hagi Kirbag, apparently the most famous barber in Turkey


We just had to…..


A nice bridge on the way to Erzurum


Manuel the Spanish cyclist

Hailing from the heart of Barcalona, Manuel met us on his way to Horosan (and our route Erzurum)…He was a real jolly guy intending to cycle The Karakoram Highway (sometimes refered to as the ninth wonder of the world) which connects Pakistan and China. The highway is paved and stands at a staggering altitude of 4,693 meters. When we heard his intended route, we figured him as a man not afraid of steep climbs. He warned us of some very steep climbs for the remainder of our 50km to Erzurum. Not suprisingly, this did not sit well with us….50km of climbs……….Ugghhghhghghhg!!!!!!!!!!!


Mike decides to play around with this Monument


Stopping for lunch


Brian devours one whole chicken at break time


Nearly there!!

As for the 50km of steep climbs….Well……that was further from the truth. Manuel had brewed up a nice storm in a tea-cup for us. There was minimal climbing and probably no more ahead of us either. We felt a certain amount of pity on Manuel venturing alone into the oxegen starved heights of 4,900 off meters of the The Karakoram Highway. Hope you remain cheerful as ever amigo…..Adios Amigo and Saludo when you make it those Karakoram mountain ranges and passes!!!!


Mike reaching for that shuffle button


Just outside Erzurum


Erzurum town centre


It wouldn’t be Turkey without an establishment like this!!


Erzurum is famous for its street fountains. Locals fill up their bottles for drinking water

We shall stay here tomorrow and rest for a day. Its a great time to take in some of that fresh mountain air and taste some of Erzurums famous Caj Kebabs….There are lots of famous cheeses here too and of course some Turkish Baths….Lots to do and looking forward to it………..

Talk soon…..

The Lads