A guide and two happy-go-lucky girls bike past us in the opposite direction. I force a smile when making eye contact… briefly, before drawing them – sagging heavily – back in the direction of my feet kicking the dirt.
“Suckers,” I say to Pat.
Wincing, he agrees. The sun and the wind blow directly into our eyes as we watch the show about 150 meters down the pothole-laden road. Our guide, a young 15-year-old Turkish boy who apparently drank about 20 Red Bulls before the tour (or so it seems), pops wheelies on his bike in an effort to entertain himself.
Pat and I… well, we’ve had enough. We are now walking next to our bikes.
* * * * *
It was with explicit instructions that we wanted an easy day that we agreed to hop on those bikes in downtown Göreme.
The first two days of our Intrepid Travel tour in Cappadocia involved lots of light hiking – into canyons, up into pigeon houses, and then some. It felt good, regardless of wearing us out a bit (I mean we usually sit on our butts all day at work).
When Salim initially announced we would be riding bikes on our third day, I didn’t think twice about it. However, on the second day while hiking, when we passed a poor girl and her guide pushing bikes up the same trail (in Rose Valley) I was having to be careful on going down… I panicked.
We explained that we didn’t want that ride. So, Salim explained to our guide that we didn’t want the Rose or Red Valley, and to take it easy.
Apprehension was quickly cast aside after we took off, gliding almost effortlessly on a slight-slight-slight downhill road towards our destination. Even with a growing burn in my thighs, the sun was out, the breeze was cool, and we were in the middle of Cappadocia – everything was swell. When we got towards a small village, our young guide pointed to the top of the hill, letting us know that was where we were heading.
It all happened fairly quickly – turning the corner, weaving in and out of cars and people, until we were met with an uphill climb… that didn’t end… and that left Pat and I forced to get off the bike and push.
Only our guide never once got off the bike. In fact, he was up in front of us popping wheelies while going up crazy steep hills!
Sweat started pouring over my red face, and as we got back on the bike and trudged past people walking the same path, you could tell they did not in any way envy our situation.
This was just our first stop.
Throughout the day:
We faked smiles for photos.
We saw lots of these “mushroom” rocks (c’mon, you’re not fooling anyone with those names).
We got to sit and chat with an interesting old man selling organic apple tea.
It was overall a very productive few hours, but that bike ride? It KILLED us. It’s hard to understand how it was so hard. I mean, yeah, we do sit on the computer all day at work, but for the 3 months before setting off we both were hitting the gym regularly in preparation.
I guess it didn’t help that our bikes kept slipping into the only and lowest gear, and it also didn’t help that our guide was a young teenager with all the energy and stamina in the world. He just didn’t understand that we couldn’t keep up – or maybe he didn’t understand that much English!
And there you have it. When we literally couldn’t pedal anymore on the way back to Göreme, we walked… slowly… hating life and hating bicycles. Thank goodness our final night of the tour was the all-you-can-eat-and-drink feast and cultural show. We needed to drown our sorrows!
Tip: If going on the tour in Göreme, don’t be afraid to give your bike a good test run before committing. The seats were much too small for us (I hurt sitting down for a couple days after), and the gears on our bikes kept slipping. Otherwise, switch it up for ATVs! I’ve never been so jealous in my life.
**Our Intrepid Travel tour was provided free of charge, and this bike ride was the only part of it that we didn’t fully enjoy. But that’s just us! We generally hate walking up hills…