Day 6 - to Kesan: Hills, hills, hills - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

January 21, 2015

Day 6 - to Kesan: Hills, hills, hills

Tough day. Long and hilly. I originally planned to stop before Malkara, then decided to stop in Malkara. When I got there, it was early enough that I figured I might as well press on to Kesan, knowing I needed a rest day anyway and if I got that far, I'd be within striking distance of the border.

So I pretty much followed the Azerbaijani. Even he said the hills were difficult, and he's been touring for a year. Up and down, all day. I had one great downhill where I hit 53km/hr and must've been going over 40km/hr for at least 2km, thanks to a beautiful, wide, straight shoulder.

For much of the day I wasn't so lucky--the shoulder was often messy, which didn't go well with the truck traffic. The landscape, however, changed 10 or 15km before Kesan, to a lovely pine forest.

I was some distance behind the Azerbaijani, but saw him again just outside Kesan. He was talking to a welcoming committee on bikes, who then escorted him into the town, and said I should follow. By 'into the town' what I actually mean is 'up one last, massive, long, leg-destroying hill because someone thought it was a good idea to put a town on top of a minor mountain.' Okay, perhaps an exaggeration. But just a tiny bit.

Being totally exhausted, I got a bit behind the others. You know how it always seems like the moment you lose the shoulder and start to climb (or any other significant obstacle) is the moment when 20 trucks come out of nowhere and pass at high speed? It turns out this isn't all in my head--because while the others were climbing the hill unimpeded by traffic, suddenly every bus in town was stopping directly in front of me. Luckily, one woman waited for me and showed me to the hotel.

I had one close call with my bike shoes, right at the end of an extremely tiring day. I got one foot unclipped when I had to stop suddenly for a car, but the weight of the bike tipping sideways and taking my other foot with it had me very nearly lying on the road. Maybe riding unclipped in traffic isn't a bad idea on a loaded bike.

One thing I've noticed on this road is the number of gas stations advertising full restaurant and other facilities that aren't actually operational. Today I stopped several times for lunch but didn't get a proper meal. I like a good lunch on the road!

I noticed I've developed a coping strategy for the hills. I rework the words to poems and songs to fit my situation. I'm working on Edgar Allan Poe's the Raven: Once upon a midday hazy, while I pedalled weak and crazy...

Yes, a tough, exhausting day. But I'm proud I stuck it out all the way to Kesan.

My view from the top of every. Single. Hill.
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Pine trees before Kesan
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Today's ride: 76 km (47 miles)
Total: 275 km (171 miles)

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