Black Sea Coast, Part 2

Posted on 2019-02-20

The second half of our ride down the Black Sea coast got off to a slow start, first with Heiko falling sick in Sinop, then with Hannah falling sick in Samsun, resulting in us taking 10 days to cover this 150km stretch of road that was almost all flat. Heading east, the last hills of the D010 are between Sinop and Gerze, where the road goes inland for bit. After Gerze, the D010 expands into a 4-lane (sometimes 6-lane) highway that hugs the coast, sometimes replacing the original coastline altogether, with many tunnels to allow traffic to pass through the many rocky cliffs. The road connects almost all the provincial capitals of the eastern Black Sea region of Turkey (from west to east: Sinop, Samsun, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, and Rize), explaining its size and importance.

View of Espiye with some snow covered mountains in the background

View of Espiye with some snow covered mountains in the background

On our way to Gerze, Heiko managed to skid sideways on the road and bent his rear wheel quite badly. When we got to Bafra, we decided to try our luck finding a new wheel. We asked our host for help, and she contacted a friend from the local cycling club, who brought us to the best bicycle shop in town. Unfortunately, they did not have a suitable wheel, but they banged Heiko's rim into shape (and we did manage to find a good rim in Samsun the next day, with the help of our next host). It turned out that this friend also works for the local news agency, and we promptly found ourselves in a press interview that we could not decline. The next thing we knew, we were not only in the local Bafra news, but even the Samsun newspaper..

In Bafra, we somehow got roped into giving an interview to the local news agency about our trip. Two days later in Samsun, the brother of our host came around with this paper...

In Bafra, we somehow got roped into giving an interview to the local news agency about our trip. Two days later in Samsun, the brother of our host came around with this paper...

Finally leaving Samsun after a slow 10 days, it took us only another 9 days to reach the Georgian border, going at superspeed down the highway road. On the way, we were hosted several more times, once even spontaneously invited by someone we met on the street, a first time for us. We also met the largest group of touring cyclists so far on our trip: four (a group of three French guys, plus a Norwegian guy that they had picked up just earlier), and cycled from Ordu to Giresun together, from where we parted ways to go to our host's place.

Just when we were about to leave Ordu, we met a group of three French cyclists, who are going to China on a route similar to ours. They in turn had just met a Norwegian cyclist who decided to join them on the way to Georgia. We cycled together for the rest of the day until we reached our host's place in Giresun.

Just when we were about to leave Ordu, we met a group of three French cyclists, who are going to China on a route similar to ours. They in turn had just met a Norwegian cyclist who decided to join them on the way to Georgia. We cycled together for the rest of the day until we reached our host's place in Giresun.

We only wild camped one night, on a beach between Giresun and Trabzon. We were treated to a beautiful sunset in the evening, but in the morning, we were woken abruptly by a mini sandstorm that pulled our tent pegs out from the sand. We packed up in a hurry while things threatened to fly away and sand got in everywhere.

Sunset on the beach at Yalıköy, where we camped shortly before Görele

Sunset on the beach at Yalıköy, where we camped shortly before Görele

We took a rest day in Trabzon to have time to look around the city. We explored the old town and the impressive ancient city walls, parts of which date back to the 1st century AD. We were surprised by the liveliness of the city, the crowded pedestrian streets and bustling market quarter, and an energy that we had not felt since leaving Istanbul.

Trabzon bazaar quarter

Trabzon bazaar quarter

All along the eastern Black Sea coast, we passed by many cultivated areas and food production factories, the most noteworthy being rice in the deltas around Samsun, hazelnuts around Giresun, and tea around Rize. The moist climate and gentler slopes of the eastern Black Sea region make it ideal for cultivation, and indeed if you look at satellite images of Turkey, you can clearly see the contrast between the narrow green band along the Black Sea coast, and the brown interior of Anatolia. Unfortunately, this also means that the area receives a lot of rain, and many of our last days in Turkey were spent cycling in the rain. The rain has been tough on us and our bicycles, but we have been truly overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people.

İnceler Konağı, the countryside mansion we stayed in on our last night in Turkey. Typical of Rize province, the country's main tea growing region, the entire valley outside is covered with tea plantations.

İnceler Konağı, the countryside mansion we stayed in on our last night in Turkey. Typical of Rize province, the country's main tea growing region, the entire valley outside is covered with tea plantations.