I’ve had three big mountain sections of riding on this trip (so far!): Dedegöl Dağları, Bolkar Dağları, and Aladağlar, in that order. The riding got harder, the elevations got higher, and sadly the scenery was, well, what should I say?, less rewarding from one of these ranges to the next.
The main reason people head to the less accessible east side (compared to the west side from Çamardı) of Aladağlar is to visit Kapuzbaşı Şelalesi (waterfalls). Of course I had a pass to cross (actually two) to get there from Aladağ (the district capital, not to be confused with Aladağlar, the name of the mountain range). It was fairly fun riding on a good road without much traffic with the scenery improving as I went north.
Coming from the south the first waterfall you get to is called Güney Şelale (South Falls), surrounded by junky tourist infrastructure and over-bearing people. The canyon was narrow, loud ’cause of the river, and stuffed full of hotels and restaurants. When I got to the waterfall, I found trash, discarded building materials, water pipes, buildings falling apart. Really, people come all this way for this? Having never been here before, I thought this was the (rather disappointing) main attraction.
I felt relieved to escape. I had a short climb to the main road (how most people access Kapuzbaşı), turned left, paid the entrance fee to the national park (7tl), and found this:
Well, now, that’s the real deal!
Note if you come here, that there are also places to stay in the village of Kapuzbaşı which looks much preferable to what I saw around Güney Şelale. If you bring a tent, you might find something like this:
The following day started off easier than expected with nice scenery. It didn’t hurt that on one of the steep sections workers in a truck (one of the only vehicles of the day) stopped and gave me börek and cola — salt, sugar, and fat. Just what I needed!
This road from Ulupınar heads to Çamlıca where the workers had come from. If you’re not into pushing your bike, I recommend heading that way (to Çamlıca) and see what happens. I turned north on what turned out to be a very rough road with lots of short steep climbs and descents, something Utahns would be proud to call a road, I guess you might say.
I ended up climbing 1600m that day and 1900m the following day to end up at this pass:
At 3100m I think it’s the highest I’ve bicycled in Turkey. I had entered lead-zinc mining country. The first big mine I came to was about 400m (vertical) below the pass. 200 people work at that mine in 3 daily 8-hour shifts where 60 miners enter at a time. They were friendly and curious, and I devoured the lunch they offered me. It was at least part of the energy I needed to make it up the final switchbacks.
At a smaller mine on the other side of the pass they’re still using these carts:
There was a lot of up as well, but the next day I ended up descending an incredible 2700m, perhaps the most I’ve ever descended in a day on a loaded touring bike. Much of it was on rough roads.
A number of times I had views of Erciyes, the volcano near Kayseri. You see it here in the distance:
I made it down to Derebağ Şelalesi, another popular waterfall destination. I sat at the restaurant and devoured whatever it was they recommended.
The descent continued to Yahyalı the following morning, but at this point it was easy. I was back on the real road network. The scenery from Yahyalı to Tufanbeyli wasn’t fantastic, but I was so happy to be able pedal. I mean, check out this flat, paved road!
I think I even had a tailwind there.
Looking at the map you’ll see there’s a difficulty between Yahyalı and Tufanbeyli. You have to cross the Zamantı River. Some people recommended going via Develi while others preferred the route via Feke. I, however, managed to locate a small bridge on a track between Süleymanfakılı and Havadan crossing this pretty canyon:
I had to push a bit on the initial switchbacks on the climb out, but I managed to find an arch:
Utah again? and what must be called coronavirus flowers:
A great surprise was the restored Ottoman cemetery, Şeyh İbrahim Tekkesi, near Havadan.
I was starting to get into the fabulous Anatolian hospitality. In Dereşimli Teyfik invited me for lunch with his brother and his brother’s family. There was lavaş, yogurt soup, an eggplant dish, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, but the highlight was definitely the stuffed squash flowers. You know, flor de calabaza that they put in quesadillas in Oaxaca. We’d eat these sometimes in Colorado on salads. Well, this was the first time I’d had them stuffed. Like stuffed peppers or eggplant, these were stuffed flowers! Super tasty. Oh, I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!
The next day on the other side of Gezbeli Geçidi (a pass) Aziz the beekeeper invited me to breakfast of honey (of course!), cucumber, bread, and tea. He wouldn’t let me leave without giving me a big jar of honey!
Of course, there was still one more pass!
I was so excited to get to Tufanbeyli and rest, but I ended up spending only one day there (I had some broken spokes replaced). I guess, Tufanbeyli’s like Boulder in that it’s high enough that you don’t usually need a/c so most people don’t have it. You just suffer for a couple weeks, and then it’s over. Well, suffering wasn’t the kind of rest I needed after so much hard riding so I hit the road again.