I did it! I'm up at 5:00 am and actually on the bike by 5:50 am. After ten minutes I stop for chai and a few ring-rolls at a roadside cart, then follow the well-marked road toward Aksaray. It feels like this is going to be a good day.
At around 7am, two dogs blast down a dirt driveway to my left. I'm moving at an OK clip, but the road isn't that smooth, and I'm not going to be able to beat them. The lead dog doesn't look like he's out to have fun-he looks like he is planning to eat me! He crosses onto the roadway, pivots to start closing on me and-BAM-he is taken out by an oncoming car traveling at full speed. But that was one tough dog, 'cause I hear him cry out twice, after that full-contact collision. Those cries distract the second dog and I'm free. Wow! Pretty radical start to the ride…
I plow on and make a point to stop for chai regularly. Looks like I'll make my 100 k by 1:00 pm.
At one of the chai stops I act-out the earlier dog attack, and the three men in the mini-market laugh at my story. Then the owner reaches behind the counter and hands me a very large firecracker. I laugh, and thank him. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to light this while bicycling away from vicious dogs, but I add it to my inventory of defensive devices.
I stop for a nice truck-stop lunch at 12:30, just a few kilometers short of my destination, Sultanhani. I ask about accommodations and am told about a pension. A phone call is made and I'm told to wait. After a few minutes just sitting there, I break away and continue riding. A motorbike passes me from another direction, loops around and catches up. "Pension?" he asks. "Yes," I reply. "How far?" I add. He replies, "Come!" I follow him: my bicycle behind his motorbike, and within minute or two we pass a turnoff, and signage indicating Sultanhani's Centrum. I continue another half kilometer following the motorcycle, then break away. I head back toward the turnoff. I have no use for an address that's not near anything-especially as I haven't seen what accommodations are near the old fort.
I turn up the side road, and there, about a half-kilometer up, is the fortress. It looks sort of like the Alamo, in Texas. It's nice enough, and apparently packed with history, the setting is a bit off, as the immediate area is crowded with tea gardens and another tourist-related businesses. It's not bad, but it's not amazing. I bike past it, for a quick scan of the town, note plenty of pension and camping signs, but no hotel signs. I U-turn back to the fort, park the bike, go in and take a few pictures.
As I leave the fort, I spot a hotel sign, but it's already too late. I've decided to bicycle the next 40 k and make it to Aksaray. There's been no wind problem and I really can't see keeping busy in this town. Ahmet was right about this. He said Sultanhani was good for 30 minutes.
I pound on and have one more dog incident. Two big pups are rolling with each other in the field on my right. I'm not sure if they'll notice me, but I pick up my pace. The road is smooth and I'm moving. Damn! A third dog spots me and a chase is on. He is a big dog, collie type, and he runs well, but he is in the gully beside the road and I have the advantage of the smooth asphalt. I outlast him. Wow! Riding in Turkey…
Further on, at a chai stop, I asked about hotels in Aksaray, and told about a nice one on the freeway and another nice one in town.
As I approach Aksaray (the sign says population equals 110,000), I do see a nice hotel at the side of the highway. Then I see two more hotels at the side of the highway. I break off and head to "Sehir Merkezi" - the Center - and eventually find a tourist office where I get a map of downtown, showing three downtown hotels. My bearings are off, but I find one of them by luck, but decide not to pay 40 Turkish Lira for this rather bland address. I visit a second hotel and accept the 30 TL offer. I visit an internet café, have a pizza/chicken/French fries combo from a fast food chain, and wander around town. It's starting to sprinkle, so I will have to play this by ear.