DESTINATION: CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY – ICY TRAILS AND FAIRY TALES

A mountain biking journey through snow-dusted Cappadocia

DESTINATION: CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY

Photos and text by Martin Bissig

Unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm on a biking trip in Turkey, I found the transformed landscapes so captivating that it turned our adventure into an impromptu photo shoot. From icy chills to T-shirt weather, this extraordinary trip served up all extremes, underscoring the thrilling unpredictability of mountain biking.

Biking through Cappadocia’s unique terrain with snow-capped rock formations. A scenic and challenging ride for us.

 

Braving snow and wind in sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures becomes more bearable with the right cycling gear.

 

It was love at first sight. In May, a year prior, I stood shivering on the observation deck at 5:30 a.m., staring into the dark night, punctuated by tiny, bright spots moving upwards. The backdrop was quintessentially Cappadocia. On clear mornings, over a hundred hot-air balloons ascend over Göreme National Park. Fast-forward almost a year, and the sky was empty, the ground blanketed in white. Instead of dusty trails at the end of March, we found ourselves knee-deep in snow in the heart of Turkey!

Throughout our week in Göreme National Park, we didn’t encounter any other cyclist, allowing us to savor the landscape’s beauty all to ourselves.

 

Catching the final beams of sun as we bike along the sandy paths.

 

My friend Ahmed, who runs a hotel nearby and has been guiding tourists around the area for over a quarter-century, had just fitted summer tires onto his car last week. The cold front caught not just us off guard, but the locals were equally surprised. To be more specific, it was the sheer volume of snow. Even though it can snow here at 4,600 feet above sea level even late into spring, the 12 inches of fresh snowfall over the past 24 hours was truly extraordinary. Left with no choice, we spent the second of our five planned biking days hiking instead.

Riding on slippery sand trails: An adventure blending beauty with obstacles.

 

After a day in the snow, with soaking wet boots and cold toes, it thawed enough the next day for us to mount our bikes again. The ground was drenched with meltwater, transforming the usually dust-dry trails into sludgy, sticky mud paths—conditions reminiscent more of Scotland than of Turkey. Despite the challenging terrain, we couldn’t help but marvel. The snowfall had morphed the already spectacular landscape into a magical wonderland. The fairy chimneys—earth pyramids in cone or cylindrical shapes—looked like the sugared surface of a bundt cake.

Pedaling through the Titans: A journey in Love Valley’s majestic shadows.

 

Time for a pause. While these tea stalls typically serve tourists with cold refreshments in the scorching summer, we had natural ice for our beverages available for free.

 

If I was nearly overwhelmed by the visual overdose last year, this year hit me even harder. My two friends and travel companions, Aldo and Thomas, had to ride the same spots repeatedly until I captured the perfect shots. Initially, I hadn’t planned on doing much photography on this trip, but I knew such an event does not happen often and is nearly impossible to plan for. Consequently, our five-day bike trip turned into a bona fide photo shoot. It was a photo shoot that couldn’t have been more diverse. We started in the snow and ended the ride in T-shirts and shorts, only to encounter fresh snowfields just around the corner.

Mountain biking in Turkey in the snow? Check! I’ll definitely be back. But, next time, I would love to have high temperatures and dust between my teeth again.

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