OK, Corral: Buharkent to Corral Camp. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

February 23, 2014

OK, Corral: Buharkent to Corral Camp.

Before I begin.
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I dreamt Is at a beach swimming in the tide out further from the shore than I had been told was safe, where I'd be overcome by currans and get into difficulty. I keep swimming though until I'm overcome by a big wave bringing me in a rapid of wash back to shore. Before reaching shore I await in a lapse of time as if moving in slow motion for the sharp pain of being dragged over the rocks. But as the water's depth lessens, I'm swept over a soft sandy beach. I associate the beach with my father. From earliest memories, I remember Sunday afternoon-family outings to beaches. This was the late sixties and men still always dressed in suits in public. I remember he would roll his trouser legs up above his knee and walk into the tide to ankle depth.

I'm camped far enough from any settlement so the dawn call to prayer is faint and distant. Another clear blue-sky morning. The sun rises over the hills late here. Turkey is on a time-zone one hour ahead of Central Europe, but I think the later is more suited to the time of sunrise.

The road is the monotonous continuation of yesterday's four-lane highway with regular busy urban stretches to negociate through; where, I've to be constantly on my guard with cars entering from the side. And one thing that is pissing me off is when I move out to pass pedestrians or a parked car or truck on the shoulder and a bus or car catches me up, then startles me from behind with a sudden blaring horn in my ears; as if I'm totally unaware that their there; or perhaps in their view, I'm on a bicycle and what am I doing on the road; why am I pulling out so far and because I'm riding a bicycle I have to be mad and maybe will wobble into their path.

There are less orange groves now, more verdant green crop and fields of plastic poly-tunnels. The only thing to look forward to is reaching Denizli which will be a bit of a milestone, as ahead of this town on the map the lady at the tourist office in Izmir gave me, there's a minor road alternative with a green outline marking it as a scenic route. I already passed a turning yesterday, a minor road to a place called Tavas, as Suzy mentioned some special sedimentary rock formation or something or other ahead at Denizli that I should maybe see.

By midmorning I stop at a petrol station café and have tea; then, set about lowering my handlebars again. They're still a little too high for my liking. They're racing-bike dropped handlebars designed so the rider can get low and aerodynamic, not how they're at the moment. The slightest cross or headwind catches me in the chest slowing me considerably. Obviously its better too having the bars lower when riding uphill. When on the level, the top of the bars should ideally be about a centimetre below the seat of the saddle, never above the saddle, how they were originally when this bike left the bike shop after assembly.

Leaving Denizli I'm faced with a hideous wall of mountains ahead.
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I reach Denizli around noon. It is much bigger than I'd envisaged; almost a city, stretching along the valley for many kilometres. The traffic chaos is stressful and I just want to get through it. I don't see any sight of the place of special interest Suzy mentioned; supposedly, it would mean a detour, leaving the bike and a lot of walking and, I'd be here the rest of the day, when I just want to keep riding. It is a bike-tour after all.

Finally leaving Denizli, there's a hideous wall of mountains ahead, meaning a fair bit of climbing.

Now as I write I've stopped and have eaten lunch at a place full of other diners called Terasa, as its near the top of the first steep switch-back with a view back down the valley. I had chicken curry and rice, steaming hot and looking nice to the eye as well as the eventual taste. Followed by tea, the bill come to seventeen-fifty. A more normal sum, not abnormal like yesterday's not so good lamb which cost double that.

Sweeping down into a valley before a second climb.
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As expected the road goes up and up for a few kilometres more, remaining a constant eight or so per cent gradiant; then passes a view-point, where lots of cars have stopped, their occupants out, before sweeping down into a valley with dark green pine-tree-covered slopes and grey rocky cragged hills ahead. Bottoming out, the road begins what turns out to be a really long stiff climb.

The long constant gradient.
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Looking off to the side. Notice the dirty exhausted fume haze.
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A right-hand turn-off. The road I could have taken the day before re-joins the main-route.
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The pine-plantation continues all the way and the afternoon progresses to after five o'clock when the sun begins to wane. I could camp to the side now but there is still an hour until sunset and I want to make good use of the remaining light to cycle as far as possible today. Also I don't want to be descending first thing on a chilly morning.

I pass the turn off on the right for Tavas, which I would've been coming along and re-joining this road if I had have taken the turn off I passed yesterday. Then come a risky steep descend, where I nervously hang onto my dodgy brakes for dear life; which eventually sweeps down, with a wide open plain off on the left, to the village of Serinhisar, a couple of kilometres of farmyards, shops and tea cafes, steel warehouses and a petrol station. Ahead the pine-slope on my right is separated from the road by a wide band of brown cultivated land with no tracks across, so I can get through to camp. Its about five kilometres more, by which time the sun has set and cars are beaming their headlights, until an awaited turn-off on the left shown in the tourist office map with a green line for scenic route. I'm hoping there'll be better scope for camping on this road. There is another small settlement here with a petrol station on the corner of the left-turn, where I stop for supplies of milk, cake and coke.

You can see a lit-up village back there as I ride along this track to find somewhere to camp.
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The minor road onwards is shoulder-less, but traffic is light. It runs away from the hills across the level plain. It appears to be a good few kilometres to the wooded hills seen in the remaining light ahead and the headlights of the few cars I meet blind me. I've only a yellow hi-visibility vest on the rear. I'm not going to make it to the tree cover at those hills, as I need to get off the road sharpish and there being regular tracks in across the farmland on the right, I decide to turn off and ride in along one. Its two well compacted parallel tractor-wheel tracks leading a good way away from the road with no houses in sight, nor are there trees or other features until I reach a corral used for sheep. I stop, thinking this will be an okay place. The pen rails will give my tent a degree of cover. I lean the bike against the well-weathered wooden rails, unload my gear in through the rails, then climb through and put the tent up on the grass inside.

On reflection this afternoon once I'd climbed away from Denilzi has been a memorably good ride. And the road ahead looks good as well. I'll see that tomorrow.

Today's ride: 107 km (66 miles)
Total: 11,225 km (6,971 miles)

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