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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Tuğçe and I found some fun rocks to explore in the morning.
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.
The scenery, the roads, and the camping opportunities are all still brilliant.
As I remembered from before, the area around Bayramaliler is particularly special. These two:
are looking at this:
and this is the climb out of Bayramaliler:
Aslankaya Tapınağı near Döğer is what Hüseyin chose for the cover photo of his book.
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.
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.
From Döğer we took roads like these:
to get to Asmainler Saklı Vadi which had more nice riding:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you, Erdal Şanlı.
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.
Or making gözleme, too:
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.
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:
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:
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.