I wasn’t sure that I’d get very far after I left Samsun yesterday morning (Tuesday).
First, there were some horrendous weather forecasts flying around. Most of which suggested that I’d be pinned down by thunderstorms and wave after wave of heavy rain until Saturday.
Second, it was time to hit the mountains again. This was sure to slow me down, and so leave me trapped in the middle of nowhere as the lightning flashed and a month’s worth of rain fell in twenty minutes.
All in all, it looked a bit nasty as I pulled on my brand new cycling shorts*. The cloud was already down on the tops of the hills around the city, and I almost decided just to go back to bed for a week, and wait for the rain to get to me.
So far, it’s been a decent decision not to.
The clouds began to clear as soon as I turned inland, and the remnants of the breeze which had pushed me along the coast were funnelled by the hills into a little tailwind. The road has been beautifully engineered throughout, too. But it was still quite a surprise to start at sea level, and to hit a 900-metre (close to 3000 ft) pass before lunchtime. At an average of 13 mph. And in the sunshine, too.
I wasn’t fooled, though. This was not allowed to be a brilliant day. I knew the mass of rain that the TV news was showing couldn’t just disappear. It was just a matter of time. I watched the skies, suspiciously.
Still, as I rolled into Havsa yesterday afternoon, I was still bone dry. There were a handful of heavy storms about, but they were all pretty small and none came too close. I figured I’d got lucky, and prepared to be rained in the next morning.
After watching the sun go down behind the mosque, I considered composing a few sentences on how my trip has also been a little window onto the Islamic world. Then I realised that nobody likes a pretentious cycle-tourist, and went to bed instead. To everyone’s great relief, I’m sure.
I was woken after midnight by the sound of rain pounding down outside. I felt vindicated, and a little smug, and drifted back off again.
The morning sunlight woke me before my alarm went off. I was confused. There really wasn’t supposed to be any sunlight this morning (Wednesday). I looked outside. There were some clouds scudding about on what looked like a fairly strong headwind. But nothing that really spelled the sustained heavy rain I was anticipating.
I put my jacket on against the wind, and pedalled onwards in the sunshine. Towards Osmancik. More hills, more tunnels, and another 1000-metre pass. With a beautiful, swooping decent off the top (below), which was only partly spoiled by the headwind.
But finally, as you can see above, the horizon was darkening. A mass of cloud was rushing toward me. This was obviously the forerunner of the huge area of rain. I actually thought I’d cut it too fine as I dropped into town, with another small but vicious-looking storm pummelling the valley next door.
As you can see, I didn’t get under cover a moment too soon, as the sky blackened over the castle, and the rain began.
It stopped five minutes later, having barely wet the street. And although there have been a few evil-looking clouds about since, it’s still dry as darkness falls this evening.
The forecast, needless to say, reckons that it’s already raining here, and will do so (heavily) for the next 48 hours.
However the weather works out, I’ve got to congratulate the Turks on their main roads. The climbs are very long, but barely get above 3%. And the road surface is almost silky, meaning that the bike rolls really nicely on the inclines.
So, if the weather seems designed to make me look silly at the moment, the roads are making me look good.
There’s definitely a lot more climbing to come, though. And I can’t help feeling that the rain’s going to have its say eventually…
* This was a great result: I found a far-flung branch of Decathlon (large, French outdoors store) in Samsun, so was able to get a cheap (but reasonable quality) pair to replace my original shorts, which… erm… seem to have melted. Or maybe rotted. Don’t ask…