Petrol Stations and Punctures
25-28 January 2013
Leaving Pamukkale I’m plagued by flat tyres and end up stopping at petrol station toilets in Denizili to try repair the tubes. After patching all the tubes I start the climb out of the valley and find somewhere to camp amongst pine trees. I awake to another flat tyre. Before I have finished changing the tube it begins to rain and once riding I am soon soaked. I stop at a petrol station to find shelter and again try to repair the numerously patched tubes. Once I have finished with this the station attendant Ahmed invites me into his office for çay (Turkish tea). I am given the seat closest to the heater and spend the next few hours staying warm, drinking tea and trying to converse with Ahmed when he is not serving customers. This mostly involves me trying to pronounce words from the phrasebook or when that proves to difficult pointing at them.
I thought I was doing pretty good until another station attendant arrives who can speak English. Ahmed told him I have a sister and something wrong with my legs. When really I was trying to tell him I have two brothers and worked with disabled people. I shouldnt be allowed to travel in countries where I can’t speak the language. I am offered further hospitality but decide I should probably keep going. It’s still raining and continues to the rest of the afternoon. As the light fades the thunder starts so I stumble into a roadside hotel. There is that awkward moment when the helpful hotel man turns on the tv in my room and its on the porn channel. He quickly changes it without saying anything. Sometimes language barriers are a good thing.
The hilly terrain continues the next day and I pitch my tent near the road and some snow covered hills. The night is cold and I sleep poorly. I am slow to arise and when eating breakfast in my tent can hear the jingling bells of a sheep flock approaching. I decide they are not coming my way but before I manage to dress the tent is surrounded by baaing sheep. After dressing I emerge from the tent expecting to have to explain myself to the shepard but he just moves his sheep and growling dog onward without a look and they are soon over the hill. After a quick pack up I continue to climb the hill out of the valley. The crest of the hill and next valley I descend into are covered in snow. A glorious sight that is slightly dampened by a rabid dog whom does not seem threatened by the prospect of me throwing my drink bottle at it from a few metres away and only desists when its owner emerges and shouts it into semi submission.
I make a toilet stop at the next petrol station and am swiftly invited in for çay. I have read before in other cyclists reports that petrol stations are a cyclists oasis in Turkey and this all seems to be adding up (http://travellingtwo.com/12779). I end up inside the main office with six men drinking tea. The boss Mustafa begins with the questioning so I start everyone’s favourite game of pass the phrasebook. It seems to be a little bit more successful this time as I manage to explain what I am doing, my age, my brothers age and the fact we are single and have not produced any grandchildren for our long suffering parents. Being a grandfather himself this seems to be a point of concern for him and he checks to make sure we are not divorced seeing as we are 31 and 29 and that would possibly make more sense to him. I don’t know what my brothers excuses are but at least I can play the gay card, obviously not at this time though as we have already established that Mustafa is Muslim and well I probably wouldn’t come out to room full of men I just met anyway.
Soon every question begins with ‘Emma Emma’ and I get the impression Mustafa has decided to take me under his wing. Before I know whats happening it is decided that Ibrahim, one of the other men will give me a lift towards Fethiye where I am heading as he is going that way. Having not yet figured out how to politely decline things in Turkish Frankie and I are swiftly bundled into Ibrahim’s company panel van with Mustafa’s contact details in hand in case I need any future help. We speed off along the road over snowy hills that makes way for large forests. I search the phrasebook and find the turkish word for beautiful and Ibrahim replies with ‘Photo?’. We stop at a view point taking in the vast expanses below and Ibrahim points out a waterfall in the distance cliff before we continue. It’s wonderfully sunny and speeding along in the car I feel like I am at home in New Zealand on a summer road trip.
Ibrahim drops me off at an intersection with twenty kilometres of flat riding remaining to Fethiye. He turns around and heads back the way we came and I get the sneaking suspicion he didn’t actually have business to do this way but it was decided I needed a ride over the hills and he got the job. I’m not complaining though, whats sixty kilometres between friends? I cycle on for ten kilometres before I get another flat tyre, after a long time rotating and patching tubes none seem to stay inflated for long despite my best efforts. A man in a car stops to ask if I need help and offers a ride to Fethiye which I accept in a hope to find a replacement tube and more patches.
He however is far too enthusiastic with his handshake and unnecessarily points out the grease I got on my tshirt in the chest area when I take a seat in the car. I manage to turn the conversation to finding a bicycle repair shop which he seems to understand. He stops at rough motorcycle repair shop on the outskirts of town and unloads my bicycle and enlists the young man working there to fix my tube. I try to speak and ask for a tube or patches but am largely ignored so give up and let the driver somewhat aggressively prompt the mechanic in to patching the tube. He seems to struggle with the presta valve when trying to reinflate the tube but eventually succeeds and I am able to walk away with the tyre reattached to the bike and escape the creepy driver and mechanic after handing over some lira.
I am walking because the tyre is already deflating again now everything is loaded on. I’m not about to point that out though and waste anymore time there feeling uncomfortable and useless in my ability to communicate. I walk until I am out of sight and can pull everything off the bike again to relieve the now completely flat tyre. On inspection I see the tyre valve is now wrecked thanks to the force applied by the mechanic when trying to inflate it with his air compressor. I give up trying to repair it and with the help of nice shop owner enlist a taxi to take Frankie and I to an actual bicycle shop where I buy a new tube and patches and then on to the hostel where I can fix everything myself and try to relax.
View from Ahmed’s office.
Hills and rain, the dish of the day.
Camp spot behind the scrub.
The disappearing flock.
Descending into the snowy valley.
The snowy valley bottom.
View from lookout point.
Ibrahim at the lookout point.