Certainly one of the highlights of this three-week tour from Kayseri to Antalya was the fairly flat section called the Karaman Plateau. It was rolling hills with great views of mountains to the north and south. I thought the section coming in to the city of Karaman was pretty nice, but the days after leaving Karaman were even better.
I loved the cute curvy roads through rolling hills going from village to village. These villages were pretty small and off the beaten path — I mean you wouldn’t really arrive in these places accidentally; you’d have to want come out to the middle of nowhere. And yet, this part seemed odd to me: in the villages people would always direct me to a route back to the highways to get to my next destination faster. “Don’t you think if I wanted to be going fast on highways I would have never come here?” I would think. For example, in Kızılyaka they wanted to send me via Alanözü to get to Karagüney or in Sarıoğlan they tried to send me to Aydınkışla to get to Hisarlık. Both of these recommended routes were via larger roads when there were beautiful village roads going to the same places.
It reinforced something I’ve known for a long time: as a cyclist it’s really hard to get good route recommendations from anyone who’s not a cyclist, and even then it has to be a cyclist who likes the small roads.
I’m surprised that that last photo is the only rainbow photo I have from this trip. It actually rained quite a lot usually for about an hour sometime in the middle of the day. Often there’d be hail and very intense rain. The day I rode into Bozkır was one of the two more rainy days. It rained a lot that morning while I was still in the tent. I got to Bozkır just before noon, and the rain had started when I came out of the bakery. I holed up in a restaurant — but couldn’t get any food because it was Ramadan — for the intense rain and hail part of the storm. That afternoon I stopped and put the tent up in the middle of a climb expecting another deluge. It only sprinkled. And that evening I got my tent up just in time to keep everything dry. An hour later I was back outside cooking dinner.
Here’s Bozkır after a good downpour:
and my camp that evening after another deluge:
The section of this route that I was most looking forward to was the yayla road from Bozkır to Gündoğmuş. It turned out to be an excellent choice. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
There are other roads up there like the one connecting Köprülü and Eğri Göl. I’d love to go back there and take that route. You could loop down to the same beautiful road to Gündoğmuş, and maybe then I’d actually get a chance to ride it. At one of the yaylas up high, I had my bicycle upside down as I was working on the rear hub. Ali Riza stopped on his way down from checking on his bees and sincerely multiple times offered me a ride to Gündoğmuş. The bike was still more or less ridable at that point, and I really wanted to enjoy the views. I insisted I’d be fine.
And I was, of course, but things got so bad that about 25km before Gündoğmuş I actually had to remove the chain (the freewheel wasn’t working at all). Luckily it was mostly downhill though a little scary because I only had one brake (the rear wheel was so whacked I had to remove the brake). I walked into Gündoğmuş the next morning, and Ali Riza happened by while I was working with the only bike mechanic in town. This time I accepted his offer to leave my stuff at his house. I boarded a dolmuş to Manavgat with my sad wheel, had a new wheel built (new spokes and new hub), and was back in Gündoğmuş that evening to spend the night at Ali Riza’s house.
While they were building the wheel, I had time to poke around the Roman ruins in Side.
I ended up having two more nights camping before Antalya. Sadly, the small curvy road in and out of Gündoğmuş is being turned into a highway — blasting mountains and cutting trees to make the road wider, straighter, and steeper. However, the small roads in this area are really lovely, e.g., from Karadere to Dikmen. The Akseki-İbradı road which was so nice a couple years ago is unfathomably ugly now, but the Ormana-Başlar road is superb. The Başlar-Taşağıl road used to be so spectacular that it warranted a page on dangerousroads.org. Not only are they boring a tunnel (not done yet) to skip the best part, but they’ve also widened the section over the pass (only on the north side so far), something that I really can’t understand. I mean, if you’re building a tunnel to avoid the top, why bother widening the top?? Progress, Turkish-style.
I’m back in Antalya now, planning the next tour.