It's December 9th, my fourth day in Turkey, and in what must be a record for me I'm packed and on the road at 8:01 a.m. On the outskirts of Izmir the road I need is marked with a number of international road signs prohibiting, among other things, bicycles. With no extra time today to explore alternate routes I blithely ride along. No problems develop and I'm soon back on regular road, complete with horse-drawn carts, tractors, and other bicycles. I pass, then am passed by, a tractor towing a cart with three men in it. They wave, then urge me to catch up with them. I do, and soon find myself enjoying a tow; for 10 or 15 minutes my legs have a chance to rest and thus turn the shade of blue that my fingers are. Immediately after the tractor leaves me for a side road I pull over at the first "chai" cafe I see to warm up; once again I'm not allowed to pay for the tea.

As the morning turns to midday my attention is drawn to the increasing headwind I'm facing. The wind's pretty strong and directly in my face, and my attitude plummets. I stop to eat and build up the mood to go back out and face the wind. I'm at the halfway point though, and it's only 11:30 a.m.; even at 10 ks/hour forward speed I'll make it to Bergama before dark, and who knows--the winds might let up once I'm inland a bit.

After a good lunch of Turkish stew and rice I continue on; the wind is still against me, but it seems to have let up some- what. Just passed the turnoff for Zeytindag, in the middle of nowhere, I see two men standing beside their taxis on the road ahead of me--one runs out and cuts me off. He grabs

the back of my bike, I halt, then try to get moving again. He grabs again and says something, and I unleash every four-letter word in the book, hoping to convince him I'm not worth fooling with. He doesn't seem too taken back by my wild cursing and continues to make gestures suggesting that he is planning to take my bike for a spin. Having no intentions of seeing a stranger hop on my loaded bike I quickly point to my one cleated foot still strapped to the pedal and continue yelling about his grabbing the bike, the cleats, the pedals, etc. He backs off and I get the hell out of there. I'm rattled; my blood is boiling with the adrenaline of fear and anger-- he hadn't even been phased by my wild scolding. I ride on and try to forget the incident but cannot. I am alone on a desolate stretch of road and the 'taxi drivers' could easily catch up with me and make life difficult.

My mood begins to pick up as the distance to Bergama steadily decreases. Then at the Bergama turnoff--dogs. Not one or two, but pack of six or seven large brutes. I pull over, pick up one stone per dog, and resume riding, my right hand full of small stones; my left hand somehow in charge of steering and shifting. As I close in on the pack they look up in unison, then go back about their business--I pass with no problems. Still armed with the stones, I decide to see how effective my aim would've been. Aiming at passing road signs and poles I quickly go zero for six.

With the route taking me back along the coast, I was able to snap this nice photo, but the coast also meant headwinds....
I pulled off to photograph the police roadblock up ahead. This was before I had problems with the taxis..
  Next: Bergama  
2008-2014 by Bill Fridl  ( )
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