Sunday, October 10, 2010


It was a cold 330am at the Kayseri bus station when the bikes were unloaded from our overnight bus. After farewelling the Black Sea Coast we had travelled by vehicle to the mystical land of Cappadocia. A couple of thick coffes saw us through to the dawn ezan, which marked the commencement of our morning’s cycling. Thankfully some kind tailwinds had us flying through terrain reminiscent of Mongolian Steppe. In no time 68km was behind us and a fine panorama of the pointy crimson Rose Valley was before us at our luxury camping ground.

So, at least we were comfortable when they first declared themselves. As Ali spent some quality time with her Surly in its long-promised maintenance session it became painfully evident. Nestled in our allegedly ‘puncture-proof’ heavy duty tyres were tens of Cappadocian thorns. Ali took to them with forceps, surgically extracting what was left of the deep lying killers. While most slide out without a fight, countless spikes marked their removal with a sinister exhalation.

11 punctures. Many not detectable unless the tube was under high pressure under water. We felt it was reason enough to spend another day with some hardcore Grey Nomads, one classy Caravan Park and hundreds of Cappadocian fairy chimneys (peribacalar).

The leading architect of this peculiar landscape is the late Erciyes Dagi which erupted several thousand years ago. Erosion gradually removed the consolidated volcanic ash, leaving the pointy conical remnants that dot the terrain. From the 4th to 11th Centuries this region became a refuge for Byzantine Christians who carved whole cities into the rocks. Over the last 25 years the valleys have drawn increasing numbers of travelers. Yet now, the main tourist haunt of Goreme is a collage of overpriced cafes, quad-bike hire companies and cheesy cave pensions. We were therefore quite satisfied in our camping site on the hill out of town with some of the finest high powered hot showers going around.
The melodic blasts of burning gas fuelling countless hot air balloons woke us to a crisp morning. At 1200m in October, our year long Spring/Summer looked like it might be coming to a close. We finished off a few errands, namely fixing the remaining punctures that had declared themselves overnight and organizing Andrew’s contract signing (thanks mum), then hit the road. It would be a mere 20km before an almost out of place pristine lake beckoned us to camp.

This lakeshore would prove to be the campsite we have worked hardest for all year. Despite meticulous surveying on the dirt road down to the water we picked up several more thorns and with them 6 punctures. As three local Turks fished, a colourful sunset closed the day, Ali cooked up a tasty pasta and Andrew did his shift with the holes. Seven puncture repairs on a single tube isn’t too many, right?!

Cycling Summary:
Kayseri to Goreme 68km
Goreme to lakeside (7km from Mustapasa) 21km



Ali said...

This is an excerpt from an email from Dad:

'the thorns are almost certainly bindis, or 3-cornered jacks, or caltraps, or caltrops or whatever else you want to call a plant named Tribulus terrestris. The generic name Tribulus is the Latin name for the Roman weapon used against cavalry, which had four iron spikes so that when it was dropped on the ground, one spike was always pointing upwards to stab the horses' hooves (or soft 'frog' within the hoof). The plant has five yellow petals and bipinnate leaves (i.e. a row of little leaflets down each side of a leaf-stalk), and is a sprawling shrub. It is native to the Mediterranean and a weed of inland Australia, which you would remember if you had walked around in thongs because the caltraps clog up the soles of the thongs. One name for the plant, which I did not know until I googled it, is 'puncture vine'. Now you know why.'

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