26 August 2011

I slightly altered my planned route today and immediately headed north out of Safranbolu to Amasra, on the coast of the Black Sea. It had been recommended and also got a good report in the Lonely Planet guidebook. Was a nice ride there too – through forest covered hills and devilishly twisty roads.

The detour was definitely worth it – have a look at this place.

Leaving Amasra around noon I had a further 200 miles (320km) to get to Sinop, heading east following the coast on this 30th day of my Turkey Motorcycle Tour. The GPS said it was a three and a half hour run and on the maps the road looked good. I was looking forward to this.

Imagine a hybrid of the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne and the trip from Cairns to Port Douglas in far north Queensland, but absent the apostles. This had rugged coastline, sheer cliffs, forest to the edge of the sea and a mini Transfagarasan rollercoaster of a road. At sea level one minute and then more then two hundred metres above the sea the next.

I had been concerned about traffic slowing me down today but there was little.

Shortly into my journey it became apparent that the GPS was dreaming if it thought this road could be done in three and a half hours.

Due to the elevation changes and the frequency of tight bends this was going to be a second and third gear day. There were some intermittent roadworks but nothing worse than yesterday and the Family Truckster was gently eased along several short gravel stretches.

Just under half way, after Doganyurt, things changed for the worse though. Here some obscure version of road surfacing was taking place. It went on for 10 miles. There was a layer of 10mm aggregate on top of compacted road base. To the Truckster it was like trying to run on marbles. Changing direction was treacherous on the tight downhill sections. At times it felt like a dog trying to run around corners on glossy floor tiles.

The 10 miles east of Doganyurt took 40 minutes and included yet another grader.

Around 4pm I made it to the half way point at Inebolu and stopped for a coffee. I consulted with a local regarding the state of the road the remainder of the way to Sinop. He said it was good but perhaps he thought I was asking if there was a road to Sinop.

After a great start there were more roadworks to slow me down. But coming into Sinop the surface was excellent and I was able to improve my average speed for the day.

But enough complaining already.

These guys can build roads. The I’ve seen enough evidence of this now. The bones, corners and perfect camber is there, all it needs now are the finishing touches. In six months time the surface will be superior to most B roads in the UK but far more scenic and challenging. At 200 miles it is a full day’s ride. I finally made it to Sinop around 6.30pm as the light was fading. In all, it was just over six hours time in the saddle from Amasra.

After I stopped feeling sorry for myself on the bad sections, I was glad I pushed on and made it all the way. I can now say I have ridden one of the great coastal roads of the world. And I did it before the road was fixed up nice, and on a road bike, not a Massey Ferguson.

Where the surface was sound this road was fantastic providing a true test of rider and machine. The view is so good you do not want to take your eyes off it but you daren’t take them off the road. The best I could manage were some stolen glances in those few moments when the road straightened out a little, before I prepared for the next corner. When the coastline and the sea opened up in front of me it was special.

Wait until they finish fixing the roads then do this ride or even drive the road in a car. But maybe wait until next summer.

I saw many signs today indicating chains were required when the roads were icy, a reminder that even though hot now, this may not be a good winter road unless you want a real challenge. As for me, I’d stick to the warmer months.

Total miles today 258 (415km), cumulative 4,130 (6,647km).