Ankara

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

2 thoughts on “Ankara

  1. Hi Sam, sounds like you are having a really great time and meeting some very kind, helpful people. Nice to be able to see where you have been and learn where you are going to. Trust you will have a great time in Jordan and looking forward to reading about it. All the best. Sheila

    Like

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