This post was originally written for the Braking Boundaries website, but I thought it would be much more valid as the first post for the new Cycle Touring Turkey section.
I was reading a post last night called “10 things We’ll Miss” by ABikeJouney (http://www.abikejourney.com) which is the website of Guy and Freddie journaling their experiences as they traveled 18,000km from London to Point Lonsdale, Australia, finishing just a few days ago. So I checked out their route to see if there were similar areas we cycled, and there it was Turkey!
They had written a great post called “10 Tips for Cycling Turkey“. I thought I would take their tips for Turkey and accompany each one with a picture and caption from our trip through Turkey in 2009, showing how relevant they are:
1. Plan your route and buy a map before you enter.
Above is our actual route, cycling from east to west over 3 weeks. Originally we planned to cycle to Izmir but changed course for Istanbul to meet up with our friend Thorsten. Before the trip I bought a Turkey map in New Zealand and used it nightly. It was great for planning the route, especially when we changed it on a whim.
2. Don’t skimp on tires.
As AbikeJourney says in their tip explanations, Turkey can be rough on tires and my Marathon XR tires had already taken a beating which ended up looking like this just a few weeks out of Turkey.
3. Stop at mosques for clean drinking water and toilets.
Didn’t realize this until closer to the end of our Turkey leg in 2009, but we will be definitely be doing this during the 2012 adventure as there are mosques everywhere. Just look for a minaret or listen out for daily prays.
4. Give yourself time to get used to the heat.
Turkey was hot, at least in the summer months we were there. Camping higher up in the mountains helped.
5. Rest up at fuel stations.
LOVE gas stations in Turkey. The majority of them had free wireless too. We had live entertainment at the one below, as well as free tea and figs.
6. Consider your tent choice.
You can’t go wrong with an REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus tent. Light-weight, affordable and most importantly, comfortable. The inner mesh was great for letting the heat escape in the summer. The Green tent fly would blend into the surroundings very nicely for those stealth wild camping nights.
7. If you can’t find a place to pitch, just ask.
We stopped at a couple of gas stations to eat on dusk. (due to Ramadan) After eating we would ask if we could pitch our tents nearby instead of heading further down the road and hunting for a spot. We were never refused, and it often came with added Turkish hospitality.
8. Keep the local wildlife at bay.
Believe it or not there are killer ticks in some areas of Turkey. There were 31 reported deaths in 2009 when we were there due to Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). As I am not an animal lover I don’t touch animals much, but would caution you to be careful as most cases are attributed to handling infected animals and there is a 30% mortality rate.
Make sure you chat with the locals, as this is how we found out about the ticks leading us to camp at higher altitudes and out of long grass. Field mice under your tent or in your gear make for a rather sleepless night. Saw the odd fox or two, but didn’t realize that there were bears and wolves in certain more remote areas. Will keep this in mind for next time.
9. Have a strategy to deal with dogs.
Was too busy racing away from dogs to take a photo, but they are big and mean!
10. Plan in enough time to for idle chat.
The locals are generally very friendly people, maybe a little too friendly with female travelers, so girls be on your guard. While eating lunch in a field near the town of Tokat a group of Turkish archaeologists came across us and invited us to check out there dig site not more than 500 meters from where we stopped.
Check out ABikeJourney’s original post for their tip explanations: http://abikejourney.blogspot.com/2010/10/10-tips-for-cycling-turkey.html