- ODO 3856km
- Location A mountainside on the track to Yaylapinar
- Weather 26-37 Overcast with showers starting at lunch
After leaving college, moving down to London, taking up a job at a dance music company I wanted to learn how to have fun. My peers from high school were all in their first year of university. I’d chosen to skip that route. Or rather I began missing lessons to stay home and code somehow managed to miss the process of applications and personal statements all together.
I drank, smoked and took drugs. Each adding to the next a level of sensation I could have never imagined and an aftermath of vomit and anxiety.
Leaving the hotel at 7:30am I rolled down to 200m above sea level on a four lane highway. As I’m dreaming of the previous weeks struggles I see something of a rare sight so far in Turkey – another cyclist. He rides up next to me and it turns out he’s a paraglider pilot and works at an autogiro airfield for tourists that flies day trips above the ancient city.
The highway bottoms out and begins to climb. I notice my front wheel is out of true from the near vertical decent the day before. The highways smooth tarmac slides under my tyres and picks up the slight wobble when I ride with the bike at an angle. I stop for some water. It’s 10am and approaching 30 degrees already. Filling up my bottles from the 1.5L bottle then continuing the climb. I put in an earphone for an audiobook and settle into a rhythm of walking pace rotations. For steep corner sections I set myself a goal, a marker, a signpost and click up two gears. Launching my weight up and over the handlebars I stand and push my full weight onto each pedal.
Trucks and cars pass in waves. Staggered by the traffic lights behind. They beep. The cars for support. The trucks for space. I stay in my lane. The hard shoulder. Taking what comes. Gravel. Glass. A dead cat.
I check the map. Every 300m I drink a litre. Sweat collects at the peak of my cycle cap and drops in long splashes on my map, bars and phone. It dries into white flows like the pools in Heiropolis. As I reach the mountain pass at 1195m I stop, stand and break into a wide grin. The feeling of every muscle working to transport you forward and up for the last two hours. All controlled. Never out of breath. Radiating heat and dripping with exertion. This is joy.
As I reach the top a car pulls in and hands fresh plums and fig wraps to be with a “Mahraba” then continues without a word. I sit in the petrol station. Still grinding maniacally. This is what I cycle for.