Sleeping under the Stars

We’d decided to make ourselves scarce for a few days, and there was an appealing looking ring road starting from Izmir and looping around a nearby peninsula. Why not go for a ride? We strapped our sleeping bags and a change of underpants to Pip and rode down the mountain in the cool, early-morning mist.

The nice thing about a short trip ’round a peninsula is there’s no real navigation involved; just keep the water on your right hand side and you’re good to go. Even I couldn’t get us lost under those conditions. We passed throughUrla and hit the Eastern side of the peninsula. It was amazing to be back on the road again. Between my battery, Maria’s cooling fan and our workaway stops we hadn’t actually done a full, uninterrupted day’s riding in weeks, and I’d been having withdrawals. This was completely making up for it though. I barely noticed the warm sun bouncing off the waves as I threw the bike around theneverending turns, slowing to pass through little villages where coffee cups paused mid-way to swivelling heads, then gunning it again to scrape mysidestand (and terrify Maria) around an uphill hairpin.

Icebear enjoying the scenery fly by

Icebear enjoying the scenery fly by

It was a great way to travel; we had no real purpose or direction, which was handy since neither map nor satnav had any idea of what or whom was inhabiting any part of the peninsula. We’d covered the east side and followed the road slightly inland, cutting the north-western tip off the outcrop and apparently also crested a small mountain range. The bleak landscape flattened out and the road curved between the odd wind turbine, which formed the only break in the horizon. Time for a coffee break methinks.

Apparently Maria hadn’t been enjoying the hairpins as much as me. Once we’d stopped I got a bit of abollocking. You’ve got to slow down! The roads are too narrow! Just relax darling, I know what I’m doing. Caffeinated and back in the left-right rhythm of a winding coastal road (albeit with no sign of water for the last few miles), we hit a bit of an anomaly. Our road had ended and, running perpendicular was a stretch of brand new tarmac,signpostingUrla in one direction andKaraburun in the other. Hmm. They’re both on the east side of the peninsula, and should be behind us. Well, if in doubt,sea to your right and off you go. It didn’t take long before the road started to look real familiar. Yup, I’d somehow managed to loop round, cut across the bottom of the peninsula and end up back on the eastern side. Well, fuck it, let’s just do it again. Now that I could recognise the oncoming turns I was pushing myself even further, and having even more fun ’till inevitably, I misread a bend,  completely fucked up the line, and swung wide. Luckily there was nothing coming the other way,  but Maria was smug, to say the least. Maybe time to slow down a bit.

It took around two hours before I’d made it ’round the peninsula the second time and found the turn I’d missed; a nondescript little road hidden behind an overgrown hedge and leading away to the west. We followed it out to the town of Cesme, where we treated ourselves to fish for dinner and had a wander round.

 

With the sun setting we decided it was time to bed down for the night, so we headed south; an unpopulated little corner of the world, according to the map. Soon enough we found a little goat track that the bike could just about manage and bumped our way up to a grassy field overlooking the nearby villages. The stars were out and the crickets chirping as we popped the cork on a bottle of wine, lay our sleeping bags out under the stars and settled in.

We woke up the next morning covered in insect bites. A small price to pay for the amazing spot, but we’ll probably hang on to the tent.

We got back on the road and decided to try looping ’round the southern part of the peninsula to make our way back to Izmir. There were no roads marked on the map, but there must be something there, right?

The road quickly dissolved into a dusty, gravelly series of ruts that shook us both to pieces. Miles and miles of it, with not another vehicle in sight. It took us rattling through a set of electronic gates that surrounded a wind farm, then back through the other side, still with no sign of smooth tarmac. My bike started to feel the strain. The bigger bumps were causing the power to cut, then kick back in, with the tachometer reading insanely high revs. Not a good sign, but obviously a connector shaken loose, rather than a damaged part, so not worth worrying about now. And there was no denying the place had a kind of stricken beauty. The sky had become slightly overcast, and mirrored the light grey stone that poked out between the scrub and heather. As we met up with the water again, a few lone shacks advertised windsurfing lessons for anyone adventurous or unfortunate enough to find themselves in the area. I liked the place. Unfortunately, a few miles further on I was confronted with a strip of brand new six-lane tarmac and a fleet of construction equipment working on luxury hotels and villas. I reckon in a year the place will be unrecognisable.

We soon found ourselves back on the road to Izmir and after a coffee and breakfast stop, we pulled up in Urla for a breather. As usual, the spare few minutes were spent stripping the fairing off the bike to look for the source of my tachometer problem. Unusually, our first guess turned out to be right. The hours of vibration had loosened the positive battery terminal. An easy fix that left us time to grab a beer and have a wander around town. It was just a short ride from there back to Izmir and our temporary digs.

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