Night riding

by tkos on August 17, 2012

Post image for Night riding

“How far away is Corlu?” I asked the three local elders, sitting in a small town outdoor cafe, some 100km into Turkey from the Greek border. They all looked at each other with an expression of confusion and took another sip of their nations coffee. “Um… Corlu? How far away is it?” this time with an arm gesturing the direction of where I believed to be Corlu. If my broken English/bad Turkish accent didn’t register, then perhaps a little charades would. The look of bewilderment was yet to disappear from the three men as I started to lose hope. I scanned the cafe for more opportunities of direction, only to be met with lots of confused faces. I was beginning to feel like a bit of a tit.

“Ah!  Ҫorlu!!” exclaimed one of the three men, as the penny dropped. The look of pride on his face beamed, as he had figured out the cryptic puzzle from the ignorant tourist. It turns out that it’s pronounced “Chorlu” as it is spelt with a ‘Ҫ’. I sighed and warmed to a slight shade of beetroot as the rest of the nice folk in the cafe enjoyed a good laugh. “It’s about 30km that way” he said. I gave him an awkward smile of appreciation, tucked my tail between my legs, turned around and walked away.

“it’s not too far, only another 30km like we thought.” I said to Kimmi, as she sat on the step outside a supermarket, our usual dining choice, finishing off an ice cream.

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon and we have already cycled over 100km today. This small town we are in is probably big enough to have a hotel somewhere, or we could always camp just outside of it, somewhere in the rough. It’s going to be dark soon so we need to decide if we are going to be able to make it to Ҫorlu before dark. The thing is, Akif & Asya, our second ever couch surfing hosts for the trip, have been waiting for us all day. The dozen or so texts we had received over the past few days suggested that they were kind of looking forward to it. We didn’t want to mess them around, but we didn’t want to risk riding at night also.

“What do you want to do?” I ask Kimmi. “I don’t care, whatever you think” she says, not taking her eyes off her ice cream. Now, every man in the world knows that this is an extremely dangerous situation and needs to be handled with absolute delicacy. The term “I don’t care, whatever you think”, when translated in ‘hormone induced woman’ actually means “I want you to make the decision, so if it isn’t the right one, you will be in a world of pain for as long as I see fit”.  I may not understand the difference between a Turkish ‘Ҫ’ and a ‘C’, but I’ve learnt enough ‘hormone induced woman’ to know that I am on extremely thin ice and should tread carefully.

There is about an hour and a half left of daylight. It’s possible to belt out 30km, provided that you are not facing any head wind or that it is not uphill, but even still, it’s not easy when you’re carrying 50kg of luggage. Kimmi and I both pledged that we would never cycle at night. It’s just too dangerous and we do not have sufficient lights on our bikes for it. Although that sounds incredibly underprepared for a trip like this, the lights that we do have are half blocked by the bags on our bikes.

I decide to make the executive decision of cycling on. I know we are tired, I know we have cycled over 100km already today and I know that it is getting dark soon. But the last twenty minutes of the supermarket step ‘discussing’ it did no favours for the fading sunlight. So it’s just time to make a decision and get on with it. We text Akif & Asya and confirm our ETA.

Within two kilometres out of town, the wind starts to pick up. Our cruising 25km per hour pace is knocked back to 20km. Another five minutes and the wind increases. We are now struggling to keep a constant 15km per hour as the wind shreds us of our intensity and adrenaline, and replaces it with despair and fatigue. After forty minutes in, we have only gained six kilometres and I can feel Kimmi’s anger swelling greater than the wind in our face. The sun fades as the tension rises.

Within minutes the sun has withdrawn beyond the horizon and left us alone in the dark. Our only companions we share this road with seem to be huge international cargo freight trucks, screaming past us at 130km per hour. The two lane highway has no service road for us to cycle, so our bikes must share what little room is left on the bitumen after the monstrous road trains have claimed their stake on the road. If the truck drivers notice us, they veer away and belt us with the off passing wind that almost always knocks is into the gravel. If they do not see us, they will most likely just crush us to death in an instant. I’m beginning to feel like Kimmi might be angry with me. And we still have 20 kilometres to go.

All of a sudden, a blue station wagon honks relentlessly and pulls to the side of the road, some fifty metres ahead, in the gravel. A dark shadow gets out of the car and waits for us to reach him. “Are you looking for me?” he asks, with an excited smile, as we approach. “Are you Akif?” I respond. “Yes! Yes! What on earth are you doing? You cannot cycle on this road at night! Are you crazy!! You will get killed! Put your bikes in the car and I will take you the rest of the way.”

Kimmi looks at me with relief. The nightmare is over and we are safe. We are safe from the dangers of the road and this is my ticket out of the dog house, as it is well established that I am responsible for the ferocious head wind and the sooner than expected darkness we are cycling in. I just don’t seem to have a grip on my God like powers of wind control and global sunlight just yet, but I am working on it.

The problem is though, we have committed to cycling the whole way. If we escape this darkness by car instead of bicycle, then we cannot technically say that we have cycled the whole way. There is only 20km left to go, and nobody would ever know, and it is ridiculously dangerous and stupid. The smart thing is to get in the car. Kimmi looks at me for confirmation that we are going to make the right choice. The smart choice. I ask her if she would like to take the car, or to continue cycling. She says “I don’t care, whatever you think”.

Oh no.

It’s pitch black, cold and we are in the middle of nowhere. We have to make a decision, so we opt to give Akif, our new friend in the dark for whom we have known for all of about three minutes on the side of a highway, all of our possessions in their entirety. Our bags, passports, money, documents, clothes, AV equipment, everything. We pile them into the back of his car and get back on our bikes to cycle the rest of the way in the dark. In return he gives us a high visibility vest to wear and a phone number with some directions to his house.

We arrive about two hours later to a magnificent spread of true Turkish cuisine and a hot shower. I apologise to Kimmi for my lack of wind control and global sunlight powers.

I promise her it won’t happen again.

“It had better not!” she sternly replies.

“How far away is Corlu?” I asked the three local elders, sitting in a small town outdoor cafe, some 100km into Turkey from the Greek border. They all looked at each other with an expression of confusion and took another sip of their nations coffee. “Um… Corlu? How far away is it?” this time with an arm gesturing the direction of where I believed to be Corlu. If my broken English/bad Turkish accent didn’t register, then perhaps a little charades would. The look of bewilderment was yet to disappear from the three men as I started to lose hope. I scanned the cafe for more opportunities of direction, only to be met with lots of confused faces. I was beginning to feel like a bit of a tit.

“Ah!  Ҫorlu!!” exclaimed one of the three men, as the penny dropped. The look of pride on his face beamed, as he had figured out the cryptic puzzle from the ignorant tourist. It turns out that it’s pronounced “Chorlu” as it is spelt with a ‘Ҫ’. I sighed and warmed to a slight shade of beetroot as the rest of the nice folk in the cafe enjoyed a good laugh. “It’s about 30km that way” he said. I gave him an awkward smile of appreciation, tucked my tail between my legs, turned around and walked away.

“it’s not too far, only another 30km like we thought.” I said to Kimmi, as she sat on the step outside a supermarket, our usual dining choice, finishing off an ice cream.

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon and we have already cycled over 100km today. This small town we are in is probably big enough to have a hotel somewhere, or we could always camp just outside of it, somewhere in the rough. It’s going to be dark soon so we need to decide if we are going to be able to make it to Ҫorlu before dark. The thing is, Akif & Asya, our second ever couch surfing hosts for the trip, have been waiting for us all day. The dozen or so texts we had received over the past few days suggested that they were kind of looking forward to it. We didn’t want to mess them around, but we didn’t want to risk riding at night also.

“What do you want to do?” I ask Kimmi. “I don’t care, whatever you think” she says, not taking her eyes off her ice cream. Now, every man in the world knows that this is an extremely dangerous situation and needs to be handled with absolute delicacy. The term “I don’t care, whatever you think”, when translated in ‘hormone induced woman’ actually means “I want you to make the decision, so if it isn’t the right one, you will be in a world of pain for as long as I see fit”.  I may not understand the difference between a Turkish ‘Ҫ’ and a ‘C’, but I’ve learnt enough ‘hormone induced woman’ to know that I am on extremely thin ice and should tread carefully.

There is about an hour and a half left of daylight. It’s possible to belt out 30km, provided that you are not facing any head wind or that it is not uphill, but even still, it’s not easy when you’re carrying 50kg of luggage. Kimmi and I both pledged that we would never cycle at night. It’s just too dangerous and we do not have sufficient lights on our bikes for it. Although that sounds incredibly underprepared for a trip like this, the lights that we do have are half blocked by the bags on our bikes.

I decide to make the executive decision of cycling on. I know we are tired, I know we have cycled over 100km already today and I know that it is getting dark soon. But the last twenty minutes of the supermarket step ‘discussing’ it did no favours for the fading sunlight. So it’s just time to make a decision and get on with it. We text Akif & Asya and confirm our ETA.

Within two kilometres out of town, the wind starts to pick up. Our cruising 25km per hour pace is knocked back to 20km. Another five minutes and the wind increases. We are now struggling to keep a constant 15km per hour as the wind shreds us of our intensity and adrenaline, and replaces it with despair and fatigue. After forty minutes in, we have only gained six kilometres and I can feel Kimmi’s anger swelling greater than the wind in our face. The sun fades as the tension rises.

Within minutes the sun has withdrawn beyond the horizon and left us alone in the dark. Our only companions we share this road with seem to be huge international cargo freight trucks, screaming past us at 130km per hour. The two lane highway has no service road for us to cycle, so our bikes must share what little room is left on the bitumen after the monstrous road trains have claimed their stake on the road. If the truck drivers notice us, they veer away and belt us with the off passing wind that almost always knocks is into the gravel. If they do not see us, they will most likely just crush us to death in an instant. I’m beginning to feel like Kimmi might be angry with me. And we still have 20 kilometres to go.

All of a sudden, a blue station wagon honks relentlessly and pulls to the side of the road, some fifty metres ahead, in the gravel. A dark shadow gets out of the car and waits for us to reach him. “Are you looking for me?” he asks, with an excited smile, as we approach. “Are you Akif?” I respond. “Yes! Yes! What on earth are you doing? You cannot cycle on this road at night! Are you crazy!! You will get killed! Put your bikes in the car and I will take you the rest of the way.”

Kimmi looks at me with relief. The nightmare is over and we are safe. We are safe from the dangers of the road and this is my ticket out of the dog house, as it is well established that I am responsible for the ferocious head wind and the sooner than expected darkness we are cycling in. I just don’t seem to have a grip on my God like powers of wind control and global sunlight just yet, but I am working on it.

The problem is though, we have committed to cycling the whole way. If we escape this darkness by car instead of bicycle, then we cannot technically say that we have cycled the whole way. There is only 20km left to go, and nobody would ever know, and it is ridiculously dangerous and stupid. The smart thing is to get in the car. Kimmi looks at me for confirmation that we are going to make the right choice. The smart choice. I ask her if she would like to take the car, or to continue cycling. She says “I don’t care, whatever you think”.

Oh no.

It’s pitch black, cold and we are in the middle of nowhere. We have to make a decision, so we opt to give Akif, our new friend in the dark for whom we have known for all of about three minutes on the side of a highway, all of our possessions in their entirety. Our bags, passports, money, documents, clothes, AV equipment, everything. We pile them into the back of his car and get back on our bikes to cycle the rest of the way in the dark. In return he gives us a high visibility vest to wear and a phone number with some directions to his house.

We arrive about two hours later to a magnificent spread of true Turkish cuisine and a hot shower. I apologise to Kimmi for my lack of wind control and global sunlight powers.

I promise her it won’t happen again.

“It had better not!” she sternly replies.

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