Tuesday: Hilltop Camp to Hilltop Near Marmaris - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

March 4, 2014

Tuesday: Hilltop Camp to Hilltop Near Marmaris

I wake not long after dawn to a clear sunny morning and intend having a slow relaxed start, waiting for the sun to dry the tent and everything out before packing up and leaving. But calamity hits when least expected. After a lazy half hour lying listening to birdsong, I unzip the tent-opening and am climbing out, when that all too familiar thudding crack rings in my ear as the curved tent-pole instantly goes square, before the tent collapses in on itself, falling flat on the ground. Hell! How will I continue without a tent flashes through my mind. It is so unexpected. Its a long pole with a lot of give, not especially stressed. Though, some of the pole sections are curved and have to be set the right way around in a continuous curve. In the dark and in my haste to get the tent up quickly in the rain yesterday, I obviously got them the wrong way round, hence the strain.

The tent reinstated to its previous functionality.
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I undo the tent-pegs to release tautness in the fly-sheet and with difficulty slide the broken pole out of its sleeve and feel a bit of panic on discovering two pole-sections have snapped and cannot remember what spare pole parts I have. However, looking in the appropriate bag reveals I have indeed the right size spare pole (section) and an aluminum sleeve tube which will slide over the second break. I remove the broken pole section, replacing it with the spare and slide the tube over the second break, then feed the pole back through the sleeve in the fly-sheet and re-pitch tent.

The tent now back in order, I take out the sleeping-bag and spread it over a bush and everything else which is wet I lay out in the sun, emptying the tent. Then sit myself down in the sun to breakfast of muesli and yogurt with a banana; remaining seated afterwards while writing up my diary, neglected the evening before.

I'm eventually done and everything has dried out nicely, so begin getting everything packed on the bike ready to go. The track back down to the road is steep but rideable, with care not to lock the front brake on loose gravel. And one thing I hadn't noticed yesterday in the rain when it was getting dark, was how close I am to the sea, as below the road at the bottom of the hill is a bay with many islets.

Turning onto the road, immediately there's a steep descent followed by a steep incline from which follows another steep downhill of about ten per cent or more. I feel lucky not to have reached this far yesterday. It would've been unthinkable with my horrible brakes in the rain.

The sunshine is so nice after yesterday and the scenery a pleasing mix of farmland in the valleys and pine-plantation to the side as the road goes up, as it does again approaching noon. This time up to a tunnel, but with the original road still open to traffic, winding its way up a series of switchbacks and over the mountain to descend steeply the other side to Daleman, my first stop of the day at a petrol station cafe. I am particularly hungry today and the vegetable stew and rice isn't barely enough, but make up for it by eating the basket full of delicious homemade bread.

3.45: at this time I was a bit concerned about the rain ahead of me
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180 degree turn: the road behind me at the same stop.
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The road onwards is flatter and approaching four o'clock, I pass a sign: Marmaris 42 KM, which I would possibly reach before dark. There are a few roadside cafes ahead and I stop at one, being hungry again. A neat place run by a young couple. He busy behind the counter-worktop with floury hands and arms rolling out pide-bread, while she serves the food. There are only two other diners at this time. And their little girl is keeping herself amused by asking her mother questions. I point out on the card a picture of pide with cheese and vegetables and take a seat at a table in the garden. When my plate come out there is much more on it than lunch and perhaps the best pida I've had yet, garnished with green salad and lemons, bringing me to the realisation that most of the ingredients in delicious Turkish cuisine, or at least what is on my plate comes locally from the land.

The road ahead has a wet sheen of rain and I'm glad I've missed a soaking today too as I see the dark vail of rain has moved on over the mountain to the right, while to the left there are broken white fluffy clouds. And soon there's the left turning for Marmaris toward that clearer sky.

The distance on the sign is twenty-nine kilometres and its still awhile yet until the sun starts going down. But, after five or six kilometres flat as a pancake, I see a brown scar diagonally across the steep wooded hill ahead of me. This climb turns out not to be too bad as once it has turned a corner round the side of the hill, it starts going down, levelling out along a narrow valley, looking as if it will continue all the way to the coast, so I think I'll be in Marmaris in no time. Then with what must've been not more than another ten kilometres to go, the road begins gradually up again to a corner which on turning I'm shocked to see a steep incline ahead.

There is less chance now of me reaching my gold for the day before nightfall as I grind up what is a ten-to-twelve per cent gradient. There seems no end to it as each bend I round reveals more. I've decide to camp, but there's a netted wall of rock to my side and a steep slope down into a gorge on the other side of the road. The sun has set when I eventually reach what appears to be the last few hundred metres, when as luck would have it, just as the rock cutting on my right recedes, there's a section of old road. I have to take off the rear-pannier in order to lift the bike up out of the storm drain upon the old road. I remount the panniers and push the bike back parallel with the road below, up out of sight on top of the cutting where I find a level place between two trees. I clear stones. Then put the tent up, careful to get the curves in the poles the right way round.

Today's ride: 108 km (67 miles)
Total: 11,819 km (7,340 miles)

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