Setting off from Beypazari, I passed someone clearing litter off the road. I was surprised – that’s not something I’d expect to see in Turkey. When I saw his strategy, though, it made sense. He was walking along carrying empty bin bags while throwing rubbish from the highway onto the grass next to the highway.
I continued along the technically litter-free highway, climbing up further into the mountains as I passed through the town of Aysa.
There were two climbs, one longer and one shorter, and then came the descent to Ankara, Turkey’s capital.
I stopped at a bike shop in the suburbs – I needed lots of things, and didn’t want to have to just bike back out this way tomorrow. Unfortunately the bike shop I tried didnt have any of the components I wanted. The next no longer existed. And so I headed closer toward the city centre.
Next stop was Decathlon, where I bought a cassette and chain. Initially they insisted that customers couldn’t use their tools, but they let me in the end, and became very helpful. I also replaced a gear and brake cable, helped by Bekyer and Emre, two Decathlon employees.
Decathlon also sold bike bags (which I would buy if I couldn’t get a bike box) and their own brand of cranksets (which are incompatible with my bike, but I could salvage the chainrings from). I planned to try various bike shops tomorrow and return to Decathlon if necessary.
The next bike shop wasn’t where it was marked on my map, but I asked around and got directions. The shop had just closed, but opened back up for me. Although this shop had a few random high-end things (like a Brooks saddle), it was poorly stocked. I didn’t manage to get anything here either.
It was now getting late, so I wanted to find a hotel. The first I tried was full; they directed me to another. This one demanded a Covid test and sent me to a third hotel. This one was more expensive and insisted I leave my bike on the street overnight.
I rode off and saw a sign for another hotel down a side road. This one was the cheapest of the lot, had space, and didn’t object too much when I took my bike in to the room. It was dark by now so I was happy to have found somewhere.
The next morning, I set out to get the parts I needed for my bike. I marked down various bike shops and Decathlons, and planned a route between all of them, which would have been about 60km.
The first bike shop I tried, Red Bisiklet, was closed. The second, Delta Bisiklet, was open. And more surprisingly, it was really well stocked! The next shop I was going to try involved a 300m climb into the mountains south of the city so I was very glad to find such a good shop here.
I replaced my chainset and brake rotors here, and bought a front derailleur to replace later as well as some chain lube. While I worked, the guys at the shop brought me tea. They didn’t have the bearing I needed for my headset, but they made some phone calls for me and gave me directions to a bearings shop. Also, they had a bike box available which I said I’d come back for later.
So, next stop was the bearings shop. This was about a 10km ride to a mechanics district of the city. My route took me past a mosque, outside which there was a heavy police presence. They let me into the area, but then when I went to exit the other side they weren’t so sure.
The uniformed officers went to talk to a guy in a suit, standing in the shadows talking to someone on his earpiece. I was then asked for my passport, which was handed around to a few people, a few calls were made, and I was free to go.
I made my way to the bearings shop without further incident. The guy there cleaned out the cage and replaced all the bearings, giving me a handful of bearings as spares as well. He refused to accept any money for this.
Before setting off this morning I’d booked a hotel room, so next I made my way over there. After a short rest I took a taxi back to the bike shop, picked up a bicycle box (and some contact lens solution), and returned to the hotel (where the receptionist gave me a bunch of grapes).
Having got so much done on that first day, I then had three days with relatively little that I needed to do. I did some route planning, but mostly just relaxed. My hotel room was on the 8th floor, with a balcony, so it had a good view – but it wasn’t ideal when the lift broke one day!
On Monday, the day before my flight, I got my PCR test. This was as simple as asking at hotel reception, then waiting for a phone call in my room to tell me that someone had arrived in the lobby to perform the test. A few hours later I got back my results – negative.
I finished off packing as much as I could into my bike box and wrapped it up. The next morning, the hotel arranged a taxi for me. We put the bike box in the taxi (well, more out than in) and set off to the airport.
On entering the airport, I had to put my bike box through the scanner. Despite having a knife in there, and all sorts of metal relating to the dismantled bike, it went through fine.
When I went to check in, though, I was told that my PCR test was invalid. Although it was done by a company approved by the Turkish authorities, it would not be accepted by Jordan. There are four countries for which Jordan has special requirements when it comes to PCR tests: Iraq, Egypt, Palestine… And Turkey.
This was obviously not ideal but there wasn’t really much I could do about it now. I took a taxi back to the hotel, dropped off my bike, and went to one of the Jordan-approved labs. My PCR result was emailed to me in the evening, and I booked onto a flight two days later.
This time they accepted my PCR test, though they did make me buy some health insurance. A few hours later, I boarded the flight, eager to get to Jordan.
September 16: 112 km
September 17: 27 km