Written by Matjaž Dolenc
With great pleasure, we share the cycling report of Matjaž Dolenc the first cycling group on the Sufi Trail Cycling the Sufi Trail – a short report Since the day when Sedat contacted me and told me about the Sufi Trail (I rather say Sufi Yolu) the idea about cycling, it started to grow in my mind. Why cycling? Our group have several experiences in hiking the Turkish trails. We have been twice to Lycian way, passed the St. Paul’s Trail, the southern part of Frigian Way and hiked nice trekking in Kackar. We have also great experiences in cycling travelling in Europe, Central Asia and Vietnam.
A bikepacking story of Matjaž Dolenc the first cycling group on the Sufi Trail
Since we were youngsters, we always wanted to do something adventurous and new. Preparation of the tour First – there is a lack of good Turkish maps. After several consultations with Sedat and given orientation help from Iris, we started our investigation, comparing different online maps and planning alternatives by »Ride with GPS« tool. This turned out to be the crucial thing – to be prepared for turnovers and sideways when things become difficult or unreasonable. The organization right equipment is to be chosen – according to the type of cycling that you plan. We did a long-distance trip without any accompanying vehicle – so we had to carry all our gear with us: tents, sleeping and cooking material, some food and water, clothing, spare and repair material. Second – cycling is different from hiking. For cycling, you need some kind of road. It can be narrow or wide, asphalt or white road, crowded or lonely.
Experiences on the Sufi Bike Trail. Already, one group of Slovenian bikers cycled from Konya towards Istanbul. They used the services of Cem Balsun Founder of Istanbul on bike and Tour Guide who speaks: English, Italian and Spanish. We are in the early days of planning our first Istanbul Konya and Konya back to Istanbul tour on bike.
Then a farmer gives us self-picked mulberries and cherries. Although they are very tasty, and we can use them well, it is also difficult to transport.
Mountain path is good only if you ride a bicycle without three or five bags. It is good if somebody is accompanying you by the vehicle and carry your luggage, or if you are doing day trips with the mountain bike. These are all the variants which can be organized, but our variant was different – we were heavily loaded. Third – the weather is quite an influential part of cycling. We are used to cycling in bad weather, but it is something different to cycle e.g. in rainy Scotland, then in rainy Turkey. In Scotland, they have a net of asphalt cycling roads, in Turkey, there are no cycling roads and all the white roads become muddy roads in half an hour of rain. Cycling muddy road is practically impossible – so you are forced to find an asphalt alternative.
It is not the problem of Turkey, that it does not have cycle roads (if you do not have cyclists, you do not need them), the problem is that on Turkish high ways there is no limitation. On a high way, you can go by horse, bicycle or scooter or even hitchhike there. The consequence is that when they are constructing high ways (as I see), they simply use the old tracks. In this way, the old roads are ruined and on long distances, there are no parallel local roads.Direction The direction of the route depends on its nature. If you go part by part, then choosing or direction and part depends personally. If you go the whole Sufi Trail, it depends on the point where you want to end the tour. For us, it was more suitable to go reverse direction – as our return flight was planned from Istanbul. Tour report our tour started with vehicle transfer from Istanbul to Konya, organized by ISTANBUL ON BIKE, in a very satisfactory way.
Konya itself is really worth staying one day – to rest a bit after a long journey from Slovenia and to see the town.Cycling itself was really enjoyable. Each day we have (approximately) passed 40 – 80 km and 400 – 1000 meters of high. But the numbers are not important, important is what we have seen and feel.
Written by Matjaž Dolenc
This turned out to be the beauty of the Turkish countryside and the overall friendliness of the village and small-town people. Even if we were totally different from the surroundings, we have been accepted by very friendly people. They have invited us to tea and try to communicate with us, also this is hardly possible as nobody speaks a foreign language.
Maybe the most interesting meeting was the one with a deaf-mute man. One of my friends “speaks” the deaf-mute gesture language, and it was simply amazing seeing them talking the same language. Incredible! We can ask ourselves if people with disabilities can communicate and understand themselves all over the world, how and why we, “normal” people, can not. Our Sufi Trail accomplishing has not been a complete hiking Sufi Trail. We did it our way, somewhere because of the mountain paths which were unpassable for our heavily loaded bicycles, somewhere because of the weather, which turned out to be rainy the second week of our journey and turned the ways to mud. For two days (in Eskisehir and Bilecik) we have been resting because of bad weather. In Eskisehir, after looking at falling hail, we have seen the TV news about terrible floods in Ankara that day. We have left home in two parts – four of us have stayed in Turkey 3 days longer than others. So we cycled together to Yalova and separated there. Four have left for Istanbul, others have continued by the beautiful coast road towards Mudanya and from there (by bus) to Bursa.
Dedications decision of going and carrying off the tour has of course been our idea, but overall Turkey we have felt the interest and support of the Turkish people. An example – when we told somebody that we are going from Konya to Istanbul by bike, he stopped, gave us all the sesame rings that he has been carrying and went away, dazing his head. In this place, I would like to especially thank Sedat and Iris from Sufi Trail and Cem from ISTANBUL ON BIKE. I wish you much luck, many visitors of your trails and users of your services.
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