The beginning of our 1400 mile return cycle to Hatay, Turkey was taking my last hot shower for a while. It was verging on ceremonial, as though washing quadruple times with excesses of soap and shampoo would make me stay cleaner for longer on the road.
Being organised for me means leaving all the important things to the morning I’m leaving.
I’m very good at this and it was 2.30 pm before we set off.
It’s still winter in Turkey and gets dark at 6 pm. So I pitched my tent round the corner, with front row seats of panoramic snow covered mountains.
Lucy was being a diva and wouldn’t eat her dinner. It’s my blog, so in print we are all agreed it was definitely a diva moment rather than my cooking.
Lucy adores bicycles. Rather than be in the warmth inside my tent, she would much rather sleep next to a greasy chain and rear mech. It was far too cold for Lucy to be outside all night on bike guard duty. I lifted her into the tent much to her absolute disgust.
Imagine a space measuring 87 inches by 36 inches. That’s my tent. Now imagine a dog running around that space trying to head butt a way out of each end with me lying in the middle wondering the best way to deal with the current situation. These were our first moments camping again together. A Faulty Towers episode brought to you from inside a tent.
I was awoken at 5 am when Lucy bolted through the wall of the tent. Unsuccessfully. She’s a clever cookie and thankfully this would be her last attempt at defeating the laws of physics. It was still dark. I opened the tent door for her and a rush of freezing cold air filled the tent. Ice fell onto my arm which made me feel so money supermarket. Ooh frost on my tent – how extreme! I was a real adventurer now!
I coaxed Lucy back in to the tent. To be fair, it was a mixture of coaxing and pulling for her own best interests to which I received a paw to the jugular and dirt in my face. Charming. And back to sleep we went.
Lucy becomes ninja dog by night. She may be snoring, but she is dedicated ninja dog and practices her martial arts moves with persistence. Pow! Paw to the eye. Pow! Paw to the throat. Pow! Paw to the cheek. Her technique is slightly confused though. As soon as she executes a move, rigamortis sets into the leg with immediate effect and her paw is left firmly lodged to where it hit me. I may be falling asleep as soon as I crawl into my tent but I’m awoken several times throughout the night under paw attack. I suffer this every single twilight and each day I burst out laughing, shaking my head as I’m cycling along at the absolute ridiculousness of it all.
The pain I experience cycling Lucy during the day and the pain of her beating me up by night. Thanks Lucy. You’re some girl!
The next day, to my relief, was a fairly flat day of cycling. We stopped off to lie in green fields under the mountains. People stopped their cars, ran over and dropped off food. Looking in such tired shape from nightly attacks of ninja dog did have its benefits.
One man looked at my little cutting knife next to my stove and proceeded to animate advice. I must get a bigger knife he explained, by making machete size measurements with his hands. When drunk men try to, ‘he rubbed his two fingers together’ I was to; ‘he made stabbing motions with his invisible machete size blade’. I thanked him for his advice and said I would most definitely do this.
Our first full day of cycling and I misjudged the time it would take to find a suitable wild camping spot. The coastal road we had reached late afternoon was dug into the steep mountain with a sheer drop on the other side to the sea. There were plenty of small patches of grass lining the top of the cliff edge, which my tent would fit on but it would only take one success of Lucy bolting through the tent wall at 5 am …
I saw what looked like an abandoned hotel’s decking area looking onto the sea. I found a small patch of grass next to the empty beach bar and pitched my tent.
Lucy and I fell asleep as soon as we got into our sleeping bags.
We were awoken during the night when a light filled our tent and a Turkish man was shouting. I listened hard for a few seconds. I could only hear one voice but I couldn’t be sure how many men were actually out there. I unzipped the tent door and was painfully blinded by a strong light in my face. I zipped the tent back down. I asked for the torch to be put down. He was still shouting. I unzipped the tent. Blinded again. I zipped it back up again. After 6 attempts of this I just got fed up of the whole situation, unzipped the tent, grabbed the torch and pulled it back into my tent. I then peered out to see a stunned man looking back at me beckoning me to leave. I explained unfortunately, I had ran out of sunlight and I was doing no harm where I was and would be on my way at sunrise. Of course he understood none of this and was reaching down to take the tent pegs out. No, I said forcefully. He made a phone call. I took the phone from his hand. It was the owner of the hotel. I explained my situation. He was fine and welcomed us to stay. And back to sleep we went.
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Love WBG & Lucy x
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.