Narman, Oltu, and Olur to Ardanuç: a short bicycle adventure

From Narman we rode the main highway to Oltu where I thought there was a little bit to see. We found the castle,

IMG_20210815_121852 by bryandkeith on flickr

an old medrese,

an old medrese by bryandkeith on flickr

and, what I was most looking forward, the Russian church:

Oltu's Russian church by bryandkeith on flickr

Doh! Restoration.

I had a nice mountain route planned from Oltu to Olur, avoiding the highway. I was quite looking forward to this bit, expecting it to be the most forested section of our ride until, perhaps, Borçka. We even pedaled up 600m that afternoon via Gökçedere to a picnic area where we spent the night.

IMG_20210816_115707 by bryandkeith on flickr

However, traveling with five people is much different from traveling solo. I still don’t really understand why everyone except me wanted to head back down the road we had come up and take the busy highway to Olur.

In the end I have to admit that the highway had pretty scenery, but it’s stressful to ride with so much traffic.

IMG_20210816_133350 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210816_141438 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210816_161329_45 by bryandkeith on flickr

We pitched our tents near the welcoming village of Toklu and arrived in Olur the following afternoon.

IMG_20210816_180528 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210817_102559 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210817_104319 by bryandkeith on flickr

Was there less traffic the next day or was I so quickly getting used to it?

We unexpectedly spent two nights at this camp above Olur as it ended up taking almost a full day to fix Ferda’s hydraulic disc brakes.

We ended up spending two nights at this camp as we spent a full day in Olur fixing Ferda's hydraulic brakes. by bryandkeith on flickr

Luckily Görkem knows something about these brakes. I have never serviced anything except rim brakes. He replaced the fluid so quickly and easily and successfully for the front brakes that we decided to do the rear brakes as well. For a while that seemed like a mistake, but then Nur and Yalçın showed up, and Yalçın spent a couple hours with us getting the rear brakes working well. Thank you.

Yalçın, me, and Nur who happens to be Osman and Fatma's (from Olgunlar) niece by bryandkeith on flickr

It turns out that Nur is Osman and Fatma’s niece! What a coincidence.

The 1600m (from 1000m to 2600m) ascent to cross from Olur (Erzurum) to Ardanuç (Artvin) was the biggest climb of the trip (so far). With five people, late starts, and slow climbers, we ended up spreading it out over three days of riding.

IMG_20210819_082145 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210820_084603 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210820_090835 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were all looking forward to Artvin, but the pass was uninspiring. So was the beginning of the descent:

IMG_20210820_112211 by bryandkeith on flickr

However, we started to get into some of the lush scenery that Artvin is famous for.

IMG_20210820_120338 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210820_120904 by bryandkeith on flickr

Our first village in Artvin was Zekeriya where too many of us asked too many different people for directions to Aydınköy. We were told of at least four different routes, two of which were on osm.

IMG_20210820_124532 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were kindly invited to a substantial lunch by a curious woman. Then two young guys offered to show us the route to Aydınköy via the yayla above the village.

IMG_20210820_151229 by bryandkeith on flickr

We had barely started up that rather steep road when Emek, Görkem, and Hacer phoned our host in Aydınköy and asked to be picked up by car. Our young guides descended with the three bicyclists.

Ferda and I continued up to the yayla

"Do I really want to push my bicycle up through 20cm of cow shit to continue on a road that half the people told me doesn't exist?" by bryandkeith on flickr

and pushed our bikes through the thick mud and cow shit to get to a better though still very steep road passed the buildings.

IMG_20210820_152849 by bryandkeith on flickr

Higher up at a çoban (shepherd) camp the road ended, and it looked like we’d be retreating in the morning. The osm “road” was a steep rocky path. We put the tent up, put on all our warm clothes, and cooked a hot dinner.

IMG_20210821_061149 by bryandkeith on flickr

The shepherd we spoke with when we first arrived was new and didn’t know the routes, but Murat showed up later and encouraged us to continue over the top to Gomozor Yaylası and Aydınköy. Each time he explained the route to us, it seemed to get a little more confusing. In the end we convinced (with a fee) Murat to guide us to Gomozor. I’m quite sure we wouldn’t have had the courage to continue on without him.

IMG_20210821_084144 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210821_090409 by bryandkeith on flickr
We hired Murat to take us from the yayla above Zekeriya to Gomozor Yaylası by bryandkeith on flickr

The hardest part would have been figuring out where to go down on the other side. We ended up doing it in a cloud so I don’t have any photos. There was one rather steep rocky section.

The top part above the clouds was very fun.

IMG_20210821_092616 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210821_093022 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210821_100858 by bryandkeith on flickr

Thank you, Murat, for a mini adventure!

It really felt like we were in Artvin now. This was my first visit to Ardanuç (one of the districts (ilçe) in the province (il) of Artvin), and I was certainly not disappointed.

IMG_20210821_113924 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210821_115034 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210821_120004 by bryandkeith on flickr

Stuck in the mud with her wheels not turning, Ferda accepted a ride with Kadem Bey, our host in Aydınköy, for the last 1.5km to his comfortable pansiyon.

IMG_20210821_132113 by bryandkeith on flickr
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2 Responses to Narman, Oltu, and Olur to Ardanuç: a short bicycle adventure

  1. Mike Painter says:

    What an adventure!

  2. Curt Bradner says:

    Ha, great post!
    Cathy and I just finished a quick 4 day ride where each day I managed to get us lost at least once (despite consulting several different mapping apps), often involving either a few kilometers of pushing the tandem and trailer up some un-rideable section, or walking it down through a scree field. Fortunately we didn’t encounter the mud and cow poop situation – although plenty of goat poop was squished.
    Still loving Portugal, though your posts have us thinking about a trip to Turkey next year,

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