Sep 152010

Umut after the accident.

Umut after the accident. Rakı as a painkiller.Thanks for the photo, Inan:)

By our statistics I mean mine, Umut’s and a friend’s whom we encouraged to join us bicyclomaniacs.

It makes one accident per person – not bad, considering it’s Turkey. However, the truth is we could be blamed for each occurence and so they could have all been avoided.

1. I’m going back home from work, from Koşuyolu to Acıbadem, downhill, straight way ahead, red light can be seen from the distance so I slow down a bit, light turns green so there’s no reason to brake any more and suddenly this taxi appears from the oncoming direction and is turning left so I ride into its right side because my V-brakes aren’t in good working order and I can’t stop in time. Lucky me – it’s just a hole in the trosusers and a bruised knee.

The driver is only partially to blame. I knew my brakes were a bit defective but I thought a bigger challenge would be trying to communicate in Turkish in a shop. Lesson learnt: it’s easier to use gestures to explain what you want to buy than yell in a foreign language at a taxi driver who has almost killed you.

A bike and a taxi at a crossroads.

Our accidental meeting.

2. Umut’s self-inflicted fall happened just a week after he bought his bike. He was testing it for speed on a nice hill in Muğla (south-west). The whole area is quite mountainous and windy on account of the proximity of two seas (ideal for catching eco-energy and a flock of wind turbines can be already seen).

The testing ride was going well and the downhill speed was impressive but as soon as a huge mountain on one side disapeared and was replaced by powerful wind Umut ended up in a rocky ditch. It looked serious but only a couple of stitches were needed – luckily the helmet served its purpose well.

Datça: a windmill and a wind turbine.

Datça: a windmill and a wind turbine - old and new side by side.

3. Our friend’s excitement about her new bike was mixed with a slight worry she wouldn’t remember how to ride it any more (we didn’t take it seriously – surely no one forgets how to cycle once they’ve learned it as kids). We arranged to meet on a seaside bike path near Bostancı – one of these few flat areas in Istanbul, the path goes up to Pendik or maybe even farther and there’s a lovely view of the sea and the islands.

Conforming to the local traditions, we were a bit late got there only to find out our friend was desperate for a dentist to reattach the broken half of her central incisor… What happened was she naively thought that pedestrians give way on a path which is called a bike path and has bike symbols painted over it. To her surprise there was a couple standing in her way, engrossed in a conversation, never took any notice of her cycling in their direction.

It took hours before we found a dental surgery open on Sunday afternoon – one of us was asking locals for advice (and that was Umut, the only one who spoke Turkish), one kept bringing ice from a nearby restaurants to keep the tooth-half in cold and one was just sitting on a bench with Nidal trying to cheer her up. The dentist charged as much as 400TL, half the price of the bike. The bike was out of favour – unused for months and then adopted by another friend.

Cyclists in Caddebostan.

I’ll try and focus on something positive next week.

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