In this activity it is possible both to gain the skills, which are required in outdoor sports such as power, endurance, cardiovascular condition and a satisfy the instinct of exploring the nature. Being able to visit many places in a short time period and also being integrated with natura enabled mountain biking to become an outdoor sport immediately. The fans of this sport started to discover the suitable and nice racecourses quickly. If bacycle, an indicator of city culture, was on our roads, we would reach more civilised points.
Cappadocia is the name given to the region in Central Anatolia which was once the heart of the Hitit Empire, later an independent kingdom, and then a vast Roman province. One of the best ways of exploring the fascinating Cappadocia region and discovering the places that crowds never reach is bu mountain bike. Millions of years of volcanic activity and eresion have resulted in a surreal, lunar type landscape littered with strange rock formations. In addition, churches beautifully decorated with frescos, houses and underground cities hollowed out of the soft rock offer an insight in to life in the region as it was centuries ago. Small tracks covered in volcanic sand twist and turn among the rock formations, valleys, vineyards and villages, offering a wonderful way to explore the region far away from any kind of motor traffics. Many of the mountain biking magazines choose Cappadocia as one of the best places to mountain bike in the world.
You can actually mountain bike almost everywhere in the world, but while mountain biking, in order to come across with a place interest or simply a nice scenery, you usually need to pedal tens of kilometers. The best part of mountain biking in Cappadocia is that you always have great scenery and there are tens of museums, sights to visit as you bike along. As you start mountain biking through the unspoiled villages of Cappadocia, besides the touristy places such as cave churhches, rock formations, underground cities, etc.., you can also witness the local life and see the local working in their gardens and fields, ladies baking bread in their traditional stone ovens in the villages, shepherds with thousands of sheep or cows. We can say that it is not easy to create this combination somewhere else in the world.
There are also several single track options in the valleys around Göreme and through Ihlara Canyon which is called the Turkish Grand Canyon. During the spring the region is covered with wild and colorful flowers and autumn – especially May, June, September and October – with the mild climate, are the perfect seasons for mountain biking in the area.
Cappadocia met with mountain bike for the first time in 1989 by a Cappadocia company “Bisiklet Tur Ltd” and imported 63 mountain bikes from Italy. The studies which have been started by the firm in order to organize mountain bike tours in Cappadocia accelerated in 1990 by the organisation of cycling tours in the region. In 1993 the name of the company changed by getting into a partnership with a new partner. Since then, the company participated in any kind of organizations related with cycling in Cappadocia. As we examine this development, we can say that Cappadocia broke new ground in Turkey in terms of mountain bike because at that period none of the region of Turkey have been hosted such organized mountain bike activities.
The first international level mountain bike tournament in Turkey was hold in Alanya in 1997. It was followed by the one organized in 2000 in Ürgüp. The activity under “Cappadocia Mountain Bike Festival” was sponsored by Ayhan Sahenk Foundation and supported by Urgup Municipality. The tournament was accepted as one the biggest mountain bike organization in Turkey ever. Hereupon, in 2001 Union Cyclist International (UCI) decided to include the races, organized under the festival, as official categories. Later on, these races becam traditional and repeated each year with the support of Cycling Federation, Foundation, Municipality and various companies.
There is limitless dirt road network in Cappadocia and these are mostly the roads connecting the villages and the gardens or fields outside the villages. Even between 2 villages, you can find several alternative dirt roads. It is possible to do mountain biking tours in Cappadocia from a few hours or half day to 2 weeks and the distance of each day’s riding could be from 15 kms. to 100 kms. depending on the rider’s / group’s fitness and desire. One of the best parts of the multiple day bike tours is that you mostly do one way riding and change accommodation every day. The ride usually starts from your hotel and ends at the other hotel, so you experience Cappadocia better by staying at different towns or villages every night.
If you are willing to mountain bike in Cappadocia for about a week or more, the tour can be extendedto the Aladaglar National Park, which is so close to Cappadocia. The roads in that area are mostly mountain roads with long climbs, long descends and great views of the snowcapped mountains. It is a great combination of mountain biking on the mountains, in the forest and by the rivers.
Camping is also available for groups who want to camp in the countryside or in the villages. Camp areas are always prepared with full respect to nature.For the ones who do not want to bring their own bikes, high quality bikes are available for rent in Cappadocia, especially in Ürgüp and Göreme. There are some travel agencies in Cappadocia that specialize in mountain biking tours. These tours are mostly 100% vehicle supported and they carry drinks, foods, tools, spare parts of the bikes, first aid kit and even a spare bike in the supporting vehicle. There are usually 2 or 3 seats available in the supporting vehicle for the ones who do not want to ride.
Here is a sample 5 day itinerary:
Day1: The first day ofthe tour starts from Ürgüp. We cycle through Damsa stream and then by the Red River to Avanos. After a lunch break in Avanos we head Love Valley. We end our day in Uchisar after biking up the pleasant hill from Love Valley. Overnight in Uchisar. This is a 35 km ride with 95% off road.
Climbing: 700 meters
Descending: 700 meters
Day 2: After the breakfast, we cycle to Kavak village first and then Maziköy. We have picnic in Maziköy. We bike through the potato fields until Devrentbasi village and through a very nice valley to basköy. Finally we reach Soganli, which is one of the earliest settlements of Cappadocia. Overnight at the campsite in Soganli. This is a 50 km ride with 70% off road.
Climbing: 800 meters
Descending: 600 meters
Day 3: After breakfast we start riding to Derinkuyu via Orhanli village. After visiting the underground city of Derinkuyu and having lunch at a local restaurant, we keep cucling to Komurcu village via Kiledere and Yazihoyuk villages. Today’s ride finishes in Komurcu, where we rendezvous with our vehicle, and transfer to Guzelyurt. overnight in Guzelyurt. This is a 55 km ride with 90% off road.
Climbing: 700 meters
Descending: 500 meters.
Day 4: We cycle to Selime village via Alanyurt. Selime is the village where we go in to Ihlara Canyon. We cycle to Belisirma (a small village in the middle of the valley) and have lunch there. After lunch we bike in the second part of the canyon up to Ihlara village. After Ihlara we have a 30 km ride to Ulukisla. This ride is going over Kucuk Hasan Mountain from a passage. We do a long uphill beginnning of the uphill is soft but when we get close to the mountain it is more challenging. We are picked up in Ulukisla village and transferred to Urgup. Overnight in Urgup. This is a 60 km ride with 95% off road
Climbing: 1050 meters
Descending: 1300 meters
Day 5: On our last day, we ride towards the most popular sites of Cappadocia. We first ride through Pancarlik to Ortahisar and then to the famous Goreme Open Air Museum, to visit its rock cut churches dating as early as the 10th century. Riding through the single tracks of Red Valley leads us to Cavuzin Village. After riding through the streets of Cavusin we cycle to Pasabag Fairy Chimneys Valley and then Zelve. After having lunch in Zelve we visit its open air museum and head on Devrent Valley and then Urgup. This is a 30 km ride with 70% off road.
Climbing: 900 meters
Descending: 900 meters.
European mountain bike championships, Göreme 2007
The process started in 1990’s in Cappadocia and the international races organized regularly, were the harbinger of the European Mountain Bike Championships, 2007 which would be organized in Göreme. The European Championships was an important step in Turkish cycling history and during the event, Cappadocia hosted world famous cyclist and cycling authorities. It was one of the best organizations. The world famous cycling authorities were in Cappadocia, such as the president of European Cycling Union and Union Cyclist International (UCI).
The event was followed by 24 press members from different European countries and 500 cyclist from 23 countries participated in the races. The event lasted for a week and the races were for 4 days. TRT (Turkish Radio & television Corporation) broadcasted live for 8 hours by helicopter shootings. This was very important for the promotion of Turkey and Cappadocia abroad.
Mountain Biking Racecourses in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a rich region in terms of race courses for mountain bike tours and tournaments. It is possible to create hundreds of natural race courses. If we consider that since 2000, the mountain bike tournaments in Cappadocia have been organized on 9 different race courses, we might understand better the variety and richness. Beside the variety, all of the race courses of Cappadocia are natural. Some of the countries create artificial race courses because of not having natural ones. For example, the world famous cycling race course in fort William town of Scotland is hand made.
The race courses of Cappadocia not only serve natural beauties but also you go into history and culture.