Another fantastic week on the Frig Yolu

My first bicycle tour on the Frig Yolu was six years ago with Banu, Deniz, Cengiz, and Dinçer.  On that trip Banu was the only woman in a group of five.  This year I was the only man in a group of five.  Ferda arranged this trip for a number of girlfriends who had never been on a bicycle tour before.  Those three cyclists were Tuğçe, Ebru, and Hacer.  I knew Tuğçe was a strong rider.  I had never ridden with Ebru before, but she’s a very competent rider who chooses to walk (very quickly) when the terrain gets steep.  I think Ebru and I were the only ones who didn’t crash during the six-day trip.  Hacer only learned to ride a bicycle this year, and she did great as well.  Everyone wants to go on another tour, and the idea was that now they’d be experienced enough to head out on their own.

Here they are.  Tuğçe, Ebru, Hacer, and Ferda in Bayatçık on the first day of the trip:

IMG_20190629_124357 by bryandkeith on flickr

I tried to let the four woman do most of the planning, but since I was the only one who had been to the Frig Valleys before, I did get involved with the general route selection.  The main thing I wanted was to do the loop clockwise since I had traveled counter-clockwise through the heart of the Frig Yolu previously.

The route we took this year is in red while the blue route is what I cycled six years earlier.

June - July 2019 bicycle tour (red) and May - June 2013 bicycle tour (blue) by bryandkeith on flickr

Tuğçe, Ebru, Ferda, and I took the bus from Antalya to the Afyonkarahisar bus station (~5 hours) where we met Hacer who came from Mersin (~10 hours).  Happily we were able to easily get all four bicycles and all our gear into one bus.

Ther four of us (Tuğçe, Ebru, Ferda, and me) used this whole compartment (which extends only hanf way across the bus) and were charged 80tl for the privledge. by bryandkeith on flickr

While we were getting organized at the bus station, we met another cyclist: young, outgoing Fatma.  We ended up spending the following day riding with her and two friends, Meftun abi and Ayhan abi.  Ayhan drove the sag wagon and put together a great lunch for us across from Aslantaş and Yılantaş near Demirli.

I guess this might be the best photo I have of Fatma:

IMG_20190630_131417 by bryandkeith on flickr

lunch:

IMG_20190630_143502 by bryandkeith on flickr

Aslantaş:

Aslantaş Kaya Mezarı by bryandkeith on flickr

Yılantaş:

IMG_20190630_152243 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were here at the end of June and beginning of July, and the thing I was really dreading was the heat.  I didn’t pay much attention to my notes from the previous trip where I wrote about using my down coat in June.  I also managed to ignore the weather forecast which said it’d get down to 9°C at night.  I suffered through three nights of cold weather in my summer bag without enough layers until the temperatures returned to something more normal for this time of year.

IMG_20190629_130825 by bryandkeith on flickr

We spent the first night at the great campsite in the canyon just south of Ayazini, a spot that, on the last trip, we only discovered the following morning after spending the night in a cramped campsite just north of town.

IMG_20190629_195829 by bryandkeith on flickr

Tuğçe and I found some fun rocks to explore in the morning.

IMG_20190630_080641 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_082242 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_082400 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_112545 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was happy to take the road north out of Ayazini to Avdalaz Kalesi, a place I hadn’t been to before.  Note, however, that this is Byzantine rather than Phrygian.  Indeed one difference between this trip and six years ago is that there are a lot more signs now at the monuments, explaining what everything is.  They’ve done a good job.  Also, the book that Hüseyin Sarı was working on six years ago is now published, and I bought a copy just before we left.  Previously I had just assumed that everything we saw was 3000 year old Phrygian, but that’s not the case.

This is Byzantine rather than Phrygian by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_124256 by bryandkeith on flickr

The scenery, the roads, and the camping opportunities are all still brilliant.

IMG_20190630_151927 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_153237 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_141738 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_133458 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190629_144347 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_082211 by bryandkeith on flickr

As I remembered from before, the area around Bayramaliler is particularly special.  These two:

IMG_20190630_170831 by bryandkeith on flickr

are looking at this:

IMG_20190630_170939 by bryandkeith on flickr

and this is the climb out of Bayramaliler:

IMG_20190630_172115 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190630_173137 by bryandkeith on flickr

Aslankaya Tapınağı near Döğer is what Hüseyin chose for the cover photo of his book.

IMG_20190701_111410 by bryandkeith on flickr

Döğer is as strange as I remembered, but Hüseyin highly recommended the (Ottoman era) caravansaray so we asked the jandarma to open it for us.

Döğer Kervansarayı by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190701_131639 by bryandkeith on flickr

It wasn’t terribly exciting, but I was curious about the stone with crosses on it that was sitting around out front, pre-Ottoman likely.

IMG_20190701_132528 by bryandkeith on flickr

From Döğer we took roads like these:

IMG_20190701_160223 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190701_155901 by bryandkeith on flickr

to get to Asmainler Saklı Vadi which had more nice riding:

IMG_20190701_162753 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190701_164315 by bryandkeith on flickr

until we had to leave the valley and make our way through the forest on a path that was so faint we often had to walk ahead looking for the trail markers before pushing our bikes through.

IMG_20190702_122823 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190702_124617 by bryandkeith on flickr

Kümbet is one place that’s been made uglier in the last six years with the addition of a huge parking lot, ugly retaining wall, and plenty of concrete.

IMG_20190702_162022 by bryandkeith on flickr

However, the Aslanlı Mabet is still worth seeing.  I suppose you have to get there in the morning to get photos of it in the sun.

IMG_20190702_172303 by bryandkeith on flickr

Of course, everyone wants to see Yazılıkaya (I actually visited twice on my first trip on the Frig Yolu), but again I guess you have to be there in the morning for good photos.

IMG_20190703_121559 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_124609 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_133645 by bryandkeith on flickr

My favorite repeat stop of this year’s tour was in Ağlarca to say hello to Gülnaz and her mother.  Gülnaz was mayor of the village when I met her six years ago, and I guessed she was between 25 and 35 years old.  We had fun conversations over a tasty breakfast.  Since then I have told the story of the young female village mayor in the middle of Turkey (not on the coast) to many people.  After meeting Gülnaz, the rest of the group understood why she had made such an impression on me.  What an energetic, friendly, and smart woman.

IMG_20190703_172944 by bryandkeith on flickr

We spent the last night of the trip in Han where the mayor/governor of the ilçe/belediye (like a US county, sort of) invited us to pitch our tents in a park.

IMG_20190703_192919 by bryandkeith on flickr

Thank you, Erdal Şanlı.

IMG_20190704_082619 by bryandkeith on flickr

Han is one place that looks way better than it did six years ago.  The huge car and truck parking area in the center of the town (six years ago) has been turned into a square for sitting, walking, chatting, eating, drinking.  Thank you, Erdal Şanlı.

My understanding is that this was originally a Byzantine church by bryandkeith on flickr

Or making gözleme, too:

IMG_20190704_084043 by bryandkeith on flickr

One warning: six years ago the road between Alanyurt and Gökçeyayla was a fun ride.  Now it’s an industrial mess with lots of truck traffic due to mining above Alanyurt.  The road surface has been pulverized into fine powder.  The road is in poor shape on both sides of the pass, and trucks make it extremely dusty.  Avoid this road if possible.

Our final Frig stop was the kaya mezar odaları (rock grave rooms) in Selimiye.  Again because of the signs we learned that they aren’t actually Phygrian at all but late Roman period.

IMG_20190704_160029 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190704_160056 by bryandkeith on flickr

On a practical note I can say that it’s generally very easy to find water on the Frig Yolu at çeşme like this one:

It's generally quite easy to find water on the Frig Yolu by bryandkeith on flickr

The most important thing I learned while spending a week bicycle touring with four Turkish women is a good use for the spare spokes I’ve been carrying around for years:

IMG_20190630_091002 by bryandkeith on flickr

Making good use of my spare spokes by bryandkeith on flickr

More seriously I can say that the Frig Yolu is among the best places I’ve cycled in Turkey (and Turkey is among my favorite countries for bicycle touring).  I highly recommend it.

IMG_20190630_174411 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_182525 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_180034 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190703_180307 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20190704_110220 by bryandkeith on flickr

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3 Responses to Another fantastic week on the Frig Yolu

  1. Mom says:

    What an amazing trip! Thank you for the beautiful pictures, Bryan, and for the (as always) wonderful write-up. Sorry you froze those nights early on before the temperatures got back to “ normal”. That’s not like you to forget how it was on your last bike ride there—even if six years! XOXOXOXO

  2. Deniz says:

    Such a nice story that brings back lovely memories. I am so glad that we made that trip back then. It is also very good to know that most of the places are improved over these years.

  3. Mike Painter says:

    Late to the party, but wonderful pictures and adventure as always. On to the next post!

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