Friday, May 11, 100 k
Mark's 7:15 arrival turns out to be 8:00 am. Two minutes later we stop so he can buy breakfast. It's 8:15 am before we are moving and I'm a bit worried about the slow start. But the route is quite nice, and the company is great. The only notable part of the morning's ride was when a Turkish driver pulled over, waved us over, and told Mark that we bicyclists should turn back because of road problems up ahead. Sounded serious, but what could we do - there really wasn't an alternative route. Sure enough, a half hour later we came upon two road-construction areas, each with half-kilometer stretches of unpaved broken rock. It was a bit rough for riding, but totally passable. I'm glad we ignored this well-meant warning, especially since there was no alternative route.

I have my first dog incident. Three medium sized mongrels spot me from a field beside the road, and give chase. The road is flat and pretty smooth, and rather than dealing with needles or aluminum poles, I make a run for it. They can't get me, and turn their attention to Mark. He doesn't try to sprint away. Instead he picks up his pace a bit, and rings his bell madly. Eventually the dogs leave him alone, and we regroup. Mark tells me that sprinting only encourages them, and that he rings the bell since it will remind them of the sheep, which they are trained not to touch. Hmmm

We are at Seyitgazi just before noon. We hang out for awhile at a nice little tea garden in the center of the small town then head up to the impressive convet / castle on the hill overlooking the town. Then, for lunch, we enjoy an excellent stew in the busy café in the downtown. What a treat it is to ride with someone that speaks Turkish! Finally, around 2:10, we get going toward Kirka, 29 k away, where there may, or may not be, a hotel.

Another dog incident. I happen to be a bit ahead of Mark, and the big one - some kind of shepherd, goes after me. I have no bell, and I'm not sure if Mark's dog-strategy is crazy or not, so I sprint away. This guy's got legs, and he's slowly gaining. I realize that I'm weaving into the oncoming lane, but there's no traffic, so it's not a hot issue. The bastard catches up with me - he's maybe a foot away, then he passes me, and cuts in front of the front tire - wow - no contact, but that would have been bad for the both of us. He's growling and snapping from my left side now, but getting winded. I continue cranking, and he drops off, to pay attention to Mark, who, I'm guesing, 's far behind me, based on how faint his bell sounds. The dogs get bored with Mark, and we join up again. "Stop running," he tells me. I reply that perhaps the reason he's coming out unscathed is that the alpha dogs are exhausting themselves chasing the fast bike! We bike on. I'm wondering if I should get a bell. I'm also wondering if, after a few weeks of sweating how to defend myself from dog attacks, the answer is to bore them by not running away…

Our ride continues. It's a nice ride, but now with some climbs. What surprises me is that Mark's mountain bike gravity-rolls on the downhill portions at the same speed as my road bike. This makes no sense, and we test the two bikes again. Without pedaling, he's no slower. He might even be faster. I'm stumped, and my only guess is that the wind resistance of my fully loaded rig off-sets the advantage of my 100 psi 27" tires.

We arrive at Kirka at 4:30 in the afternoon, and we are very surprised to learn that there is no hotel. There is some strange undercurrent, and Mark is not sure if they are telling him the truth, but one thing's for sure - we have no place to sleep. To me, this is big. But Mark, the guy with no sleeping gear, remains quite upbeat: we can try for the next town, that they say has a hotel (another 40 k) and sleep outside if we don't make it, or we can catch a bus, if it gets dark on us.

I comment that I believe we can do 40 k in 3 hours, which will have us arriving at 7:30 in the evening, before dark. Mark is game and we ride, but more seriously than before. It isn't fast, as we are climbing. We use the signs for Afyon (70 km, 60 km, 50 km) to keep track of progress. The progress isn't good, but after an hour or so, when we need it most, the climbing is giving back to us as two long gentle downhills that see us knocking off 10 k in 12 minutes!

We get to Gazlikoy a bit after 6:00 pm. We check out a fancy "thermal resort" on the left side of the road, where they offer us a two-room condo for 70 Turkish Lira for the both of us, then we cross the highway to visit the town and look for a more traditional Turkish experience.

Town itself is nothing but hotels; there must be a dozen of them. The first one we visit is frighteningly dismal, but the second is fine… well, OK, especially at 30 Turkish Lira for the both of us. Soon after checking in, the power goes out, making use of the squat toilet in the bathroom a bit of a gamble. We walk the town to find the busiest restaurant and notice the power is out for everyone and that no restaurants have any customers. We eventually head back to the restaurant that seems to have the best chance of fresh food, and after an OK meal, call it a night.

Mark and I, in front of the Seyitgazi landmark.
Now, with another rider, I have the opportunity to get a corny "candid" photo.
I spread out the map, to figure out where to go tomorrow.
  Next: Gazlikoy to Bolvadin  
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