With some time in hand we were keen to visit the Black Sea. A day at the beach sounded wonderful.
Setting off from Kirklareli, Garmin guided us accurately through back streets to the widely recommended D020. We had read that it was no longer a quite dirt road through villages but, none the less, it is still the best route into Istanbul missing the heavy traffic. This had 6 lanes and a hard shoulder for us. Traffic was light with on one stretch, a guy sitting on the central barrier and another walking along in the fast lane. It looked like a safe but bleak day. After some km it exited Kirklareli’s industrial estates, and reverted to 2 lanes and a gutter. But still unbusy.
As we passed other towns the adjoining traffic picked up. This, together with the strong cross wind, made the cycling uncomfortable. We’d planned a short day and were relieved when the Garmin directed us down onto a quiet route to a campsite at Safaalan.
Setting off again the Garmin was struggling to set a sensible route. The problem soon became apparent when the D020 turned into a motorway; opened in 2013 it boasted. No wonder the Garmin wouldn’t set a bicycle route along it!
As the day progressed, again we were pleased to find a campsite just a little way off our route. But it was a sleepless night as both of us were a little concerned about the ‘campsite’. It was a certain area within a picnic spot. Nothing wrong with that except we were the only people there in a rather public spot near a busyish road and felt rather exposed. The local dogs seemed friendly enough…
Off again the following morning we went back to the main road expecting another day of traffic. Gid was keen to come up with an alternative and Garmin did it’s stuff. We set off away from the main road pleased with the more rural route. It was not long before we were flagged down by 2 men. One saying turn back the other suggesting we could go on. It soon became evident why. Our road finished with a pile of dirt and giant quarry beyond it. We were forced back to the D020, at this point a 6 laner, but the next section was closed, and beyond that it was still under construction. Everyone was diverted south on the simple 2 lane road SE to Gokturk.
With even more traffic forced along the diversion, as well as the construction vehicles at times bumper to bumper, it wasn’t the best of experiences but we were keen to reach the beach resort for our day of rest so set about trying again to make progress north. Garmin plotted our route, clearly, looking at the device, some of it was on tracks not evident on our 1:800000 road map.
Rather more cautiously we checked the appropriateness of our choice before cycling to far. The locals waved us on.
The track was very good but nonetheless, much slower than a road. Along it we had our first encounter with water buffalo. Having stopped to look at it we scarpered pretty quickly as it took a few steps towards us. Must look up if they are aggressive or merely shortsighted. Further along, encouraged by the nearby herdsmen I became brave enough to take some photos.
Our track deteriorated into a part of a flood plan that ended up disappearing up a rocky ravine. Garmin listed our turn off up the ravine as ‘track (bad)’ now we know what that means. It was a four-hands push. It’s not the first time one of it’s tracks hasn’t been that brilliant so we’ve now reprogrammed it to avoid tracks. Especially as Gid got two punctures from it, a big thorn in the front, and wire, probably from a burnt tyre carcass, at the back. (Punctures: 3 Gid-0 Clare. It’s progressing as usual!) Honours for puncture protection shared between Specialized and Schwalbe respectively. Our progress had slowed for quite some time to 5 km / hr. It was a mixed blessing when we reached the road again.
Later research tells us there’s a new airport and motorway and Bosphorus bridge network they are building so hopefully the rest of Turkey won’t be like this.
All is forgiven as we sit here in a good campsite in Kilyos, having been swimming in the Black Sea. Actually the campsite – Mystic – is a bit of an orchard, with plums, cherries and apricots, all ripe now. And mulberries, our first, although parking the bikes under it led to a few juicy spots.