Day 53-55 (Samsun – Akcaabat)

Motivation, cycling vs traveling and nice company

It has not been possible to update the blog as frequently as before so this post is an update for the following days:

Day 53 Samsun -Ünye (74 km)
Day 54 Ünye – Giresun (143 km)
Day 55 Giresun – Akcaabat (110 km)

During the week we were fighting uphill in the heat I started to feel a bit unmotivated. Turkey is a large country and we have a map with the western part on the front and the eastern on the back. We struggled and struggled up those not very steep but long hills and despite very hard work we rarely came further than 70 km a day. When looking at the map at the end of a hard day in the saddle, it seemed that all our effort had brought us nowhere.

I started to get a feeling that everyday was the same. Wake up, eat, pack, cycle, cycle, cycle, find somewhere to stay, eat and sleep but without the sense of triumph it can be to see that we have made some progress on our map.

I was not tired of the cycling in itself. I was tired of packing and going to an unknown place that was too close to the the previously unknown place we left in the morning. There was no excitement of arriving to a new place each evening and I was not interested in getting in contact with other people. Instead of the positive expectations when arriving to a new town, I immediately started to think of unpacking and packing again in the next morning.
What I think I wanted was to be at the same place for a week, to be able to unpack everything and not only the essentials for the night. I wanted to set up a home even if it only would be for a few days.

To sometimes get a state of mind like this is normal for people who are on long journeys and I had expected it to happen sooner or later and it happened to me when cycling somewhere between Zonguldak and Samsun. I am sure it will happen again and it then it is good to be two people to help each other to make sure that the mood doesn’t drop too far.

A few years ago the two american cyclists Ross and Dane were on their way from Helsinki to Barcelona and came to stay with us for a few nights in Göteborg. I remember we had a long discussion about the concept of being a ”cyclist” or being a ”traveler”.

The Cyclists are those who do a long cycling tour because of the physical challenge – they want to prove that it is possible to ride from A to B in winter or under less than X months. The Travelers, on the other hand, are those who want to explore a certain area and for various reasons have picked bicycle as their means of transportation.
I remember reading Dane and Ross blog afterwards where they wrote that the discussion seemed redundant at first, but proved to be unexpectedly insightful when they, a few days later, wet, cold and stuck in a fierce headwind decided they were travelers and caught a train instead of fighting on in the miserable conditions.

So what are we, cyclists or travelers?

For me I am happy (mostly) to be on the way, meet new people and see fascinating cities and landscapes. I think that qualifies me as a traveler, but I am also attracted by the notion of an unbroken wheel track between Göteborg and Bangkok. Although I want to be a traveler I am also enough of a cyclist to not want to catch a bus when an expected period of low motivation hits me. During me period of low motivation the thought of wanting to catch a bus never struck me. I wouldn’t have hesitated to do it if it had been unusual circumstances or we had had major technical problems, but a temporary and exptected lack of motivation was not a big enough reason for me. Wej was happy all these days and still look forward to her first low motivation days… 😉

When we arrived in Samsun we got a lovely hotel room with a huge balcony. We immediately felt at home and I guess that made it even more difficult to leave. The rain that started to fall as soon as our bikes were packed did certainly not make it easier and my motivation got even lower. Wej has been happy all the time I have experienced this lack of motivation and she pushed me to go on.

As we exited Samsun we soon got onto a big highway with two lanes and wide shoulder. It was a bit muddy close to the city center due to road works and we got very dirty. The highway was completely flat and we had a light but steady tailwind and moved on at a much higher speed than we have done since we started this tour.

Dirty rear pannier

Dirty rear pannier

I do a lot of road cycling in Sweden and during the last 6 years I have trained with the team in Älmhult. Cruising in a well organized group at high speed when the kilometers seem to fly past you is a wonderful feeling.

Today on the straight highway with the help of the tailwind I got the same feeling. I got into the drops and pushed forward with Wej following closely behind. We were cycling with our fully loaded touring bikes at around 30 km/h. It was great fun and I felt just like if I was riding my road bike again.

When cruising at high speed along that wellkept road I started to ask myself if my period of low motivation was due to too much ”travel” and too little ”cycling”. Being able to get our average speed up to 25 km/h (very high when touring) soon got me into a better mood. Maybe going uphill in less than 10 km/h for several days had made me miss the cycling part of our journey.

After a few hours we found a little Bed & Breakfast by the Black Sea beach. The intention was to camp but when we saw the place we thought we could as well ask for the price and when we got the price, we did not want to camp anymore 😉

The Bed & Breakfast turned out to be a Bed & Dinner and no breakfast. It didn’t matter and we cycled the 7 km into the town of Ünye where we stopped infront of a Carrefour supermarket.

We have from time to time asked ourselves when we will meet the first other cycle tourist crossing the Euroasian continent. We met a local guy on a short tour once, but still we hadn’t met anyone on an extended tour.

Friends on the road

Friends on the road

When we had our breakfast in front of Carrefour in Ünye we spotted anothoer cyclist coming from the other direction.

Great 🙂

Finally we would be able to talk to someone who is on a similar mission as us and maybe we could get useful information.

The guy had a big beard and long red hair and introduced himself as ”Tom”. Even before we started to talk, two more guys with heavy loaded bikes came to the parking lot where we were, but not from the same direction as Tom. He soon explained that he had passed by and turned around to go shopping at Carrefour. The two other guys are Nick and Arthur.

We all got exited to see each other and Tom (blog) explained he was on the way to Rayong in Thailand while Nick was going to India (blog). Nick and Tom had met by coincidence in Zonguldak the previous week and cycled together since then. Arthur had flown in to cycle with Nick between Samsun and Tbilisi during his 11 day vacation and they had picked him up at the airport the previous day.

Nick explained that he had visited the 5-star gas station outside Zonguldak and then been told by the staff about us so they all knew we were ahead of them.

As mentioned, we have discussed when we will meet the first cyclists. These guys overtook us so we have yet to meet the first ones coming in the opposite direction 🙂

When running into someone who is on a similar trip an endless discussion immediately starts about roads, visa applications and technical issues. I think we all felt it was fun to meet and exchange ideas and experiences.

Shopping for dinner

Shopping for dinner

Since we were all going in the same direction we mostly rode together but split up sometimes. Nick and Arthur wanted to go across a mountain pass on the old coastal road while Tom, Wej and I thought we had had enough of climbing and opted for the shortcut through some tunnels. It was a gentle climb of 200 vertical meters up to the section of the roads where the tunnels were. Right in the middle of the 300 meter long open section between the first short tunnel and the following 2.8 km tunnel I got my 4th puncture. It doesn’t help to get irritated – it’s much better to get to work quickly. 5 minutes into the job of repairing it started to rain and that was irritating, especially since it started to rain last time I was fixing my flat tyre too.

Fixing my 4th flat tyre between two tunnels

Fixing my 4th flat tyre between two tunnels. No rain yet….

A flat tyre and rain was bad, but it would have been much worse to get the puncture inside the 2 km tunnel that had its entrance 200 meters ahead of us. I rather fix a flat tyre outside in the rain than on a narrow walkway in a noisy and stinking tunnel.

During the late afternoon we all decided that we wanted to reach the city of Giresun and try to find somewhere to camp there, preferably at a gas station. When arrived in the city center Tom said he wanted to cook fish for dinner and we all went into town to try to find an open fish store.

Buying some fish

Buying some fish

With fresh fish, eggs, vegetables and 5 loaves of bread(!) and a few beers strapped to our bikes we started our search for somewhere to camp. Camping under a motorway flyover was rejected because it was too noisy and probably would attract the kind of people we don’t want to get in touch with.

We tried a few gas stations but being in the city they were all small and without any lawn. The local fire station had a lawn and we went there to ask. I guess we would have been allowed to stay if it hadn’t been for some big boss being present that evening. We then decided to leave town and try any of the bigger gas stations that usually are found at outskirts of each city.

Cooking together

Cooking together

We were very happy to finally find a gas station that accepted to have a group of 3 british, a swedish and a thai cyclist camping on its terrace overlooking the Black Sea.

Nearby Giresun at night

Nearby Giresun at night

After cooking and eating together we went to bed. When going to bed I was a bit worried about camping on a tiled floor – what about it starts to rain and there is a poor drainage.
I woke up at 6 AM by the sound of heavy rain. When I looked out from the tent I could see a lot of water. It didn’t seem to flow away and the water level raised.

Our tent pitched pitched on the petrol stations terrace

Our tent pitched pitched on the petrol stations terrace

We have two things that may not get wet – our down sleeping bags and our computer. The computer was safe in a watertight pannier, but there was a serious threat of our sleeping bags getting wet so we quickly packed them.

Nick and Arthur had not been as lucky – they had pitched their tent at the lowest part of the terrace about 15 cm from the drainage. They were completely wet, but seemed happy anyway.

The rain kept falling and we heated water on our multifuel stove in the ladeis restroom and had our morning coffee standing there.

Making coffee in the ladies restroom

Making coffee in the ladies restroom

About 15 minutes before we were ready to go it stopped raining and the cycling conditions seemed to be promising. Sunshine and tailwind.

It is difficult to ride in a group of five people who previously have never cycled together. We cycled together and sometimes split up but stopped to wait and have lunch together. The tailwind and lack of hills made us all move at unusual spped and in the afternoon we decided that we all wanted to stay indoor the coming night in order to be able to dry our wet clothes.

Pide for lunch again - this one was vey long...

Pide for lunch again – this one was vey long…

When arrived in Akcaabat some 10-15 km west of Trabzon we decided to try to find a cheap hotel. While we went around looking Wej got her first puncture. My lead was now reduced to 4-1 but it was quickly fixed on a busy pavement just next to an ATM machine.

Fixing Wej's first flat tyre

Fixing Wej’s first flat tyre

6 thoughts on “Day 53-55 (Samsun – Akcaabat)

  1. Dan Claesson

    Härlig berättelse. Kul med lite likasinninga cyklister. Mycket nörd snack misstänket jag;)) Igår hade vi kanske årets sommar med 27 grader i skuggan. Det var också Euto Schlagegu festivalen som vi inte såg men Danmark vann. Göteborgs Varvet som man inte såg eller sprang.Det var nog rekord igen. Världens största långlopp. Idag sitter jag på balkongen och lysznar på Godmorgon världen och läser et blogg. Det blir troligtvis regn snart. På måndag är det ny arbetsvecka. Jag har hållit vår Brf årsmöte i veckan och troligtvis mitt sista då jag bestämt att jag sitter ordförande året ut. Dax att byta lite fokus i livet. Jag har också börjat med en fasta som går ut på att jag äter 600 kcal per dag två dagar i veckan. Sen resten av veckan som vanligt. Är inne på min 6 vecka och har tappat några kilo i vikt. Annars är det som vanligt här i Bohus; ))

  2. Ross

    Whenever I recount the story of our trip it is now without a bit of regret that we did not have one uninterrupted tire track from Helsinki to Barcelona, but I also recall vividly the feeling of biking against a headwind in the rain for days and do not think I would change my decision if I could go back. That being said, we all have our different goals and constraints and I think either choice can be the right choice for the person at that time.

    More power to you guys. Low motivation is as you say expected and keeping your goals clearly in mind during the lowest moments of the low will help you remain steadfast on your mission!!!

    Respect!!! What an adventure. Way to stay positive Wej! And way to talk about the less glamorous but very real aspects of a long tour Joakim.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Ross 🙂
      It’s a pity we couldn’t meet in Istanbul a few weeks ago.
      Regarding the less glamorous parts of a long tour – they are a part of the adventure just as much as meeting lots of new people and seeing wonderful sights. I think the periods of low motivation is when the mind is challenged just like the legs when climbing high mountain passes 😉

  3. Mamma we

    Hej på er! Det är gott att veta att ni har varandra när ni råkar ut för vad det vara må. Så trevligt för er att träffa likasinnade!
    Vilket fantastiskt resebrev! Jag är, liksom många andra, imponerad av det ni gör och hur ni berättar och gör oss delaktiga. Dessutom blir det nyttig övning i att läsa på engelska, det är det som är “utile dulci”.
    Puss o Kram

    1. admin Post author

      🙂 jag tror mig ta med tandkrämtuben till nån mataffär nästa gång o fråga om jag kan få väga den 🙂 Det är två gissningar som är borta nu. 🙂

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