Actually, it was not my intention to write about this ride at all: not every ride is that interesting, sometimes a ride is just that: a ride. That was my plan anyway for this day. I created a nice loop using map source, and at the end I would check out this tiny cape and crescent beach line that I saw on the map. I expected a nice view over the sea at that point.
Now, before we found our camp spot, we drove the D400 between Manavgat and Alanya. I noticed a lot of national cycling teams here, some with support vehicles. I guessed (right) that they were here for training purpose. After all, the weather here is very pleasant to do some cycling. Some of the national cycling teams I noticed: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Panama, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Czech republic.
So, I did my loop -not interesting enough for a story- and went for the cape. Now, this area actually has a sandy beach. So, all the way from Side to Alanya, the resorts and malls are build shoulder to shoulder along this stretch of the D400 road. As I rode past the last hotel before reaching the peninsula, it was clear that this hotel housed some of the national cycling teams. They just came back from the morning ride.
On the road huge letters “MTB” were painted. “Yeah right”, I thought, that is to guide hotel guests to a mountain bike rental. Nevertheless, out of curiosity I followed the arrows. To my surprise I ended up on a small XC track, also part of the UCI “Velo Alanya winter cycling training camp”. Of course I had to do it.
Starting with an already steep climb, there were even some steeper sections to be conquered. I had to walk some of them. The combination of (too) short straight lines, sharp bends immediately followed by a steep incline were too much for me. In fact, I think going down that stretch would have been challenging enough for me. I don’t know how the elites do that, but hey, they are the professionals. After this climb the track was more acceptable. There was also a small ramp that allowed a jump over a gap, then came some downhill and rocky sections with nice views over the cliffs.
Almost at the end there was a very long steep drop, with an optional chicken line. I must admit I took the chicken line, which was not without it’s dangers too; a large sinkhole in the outside corner would have swallowed a front wheel completely. Then a short stretch of beach sand with a chance to ride path made of planks.
It was a short 3.8km but technically heavy track. I think over the years, the technicality of cross country racing has increased dramatically. I also did ride a cross country track in the Houffalize bike park. Although it also has seriously steep climbs, at least there I could ride the entire round. Here that was just not possible for me. The bikes have become better too, allowing more of the tricky stuff, but still, some parts of this track would fit a downhill track easily. it is really amazing how the new generation of XC racers can cope with these challenges.