Biking in the Kaçkar was first developed by Egemen Çakır as part of the UNDP project to diversify tourism. They published a map of biking and walking routes in the Çoruh valley, which, in spite of the dam works, is still remarkably good.
Jon Bawn has been developing bike routes in conjunction with Middle Earth Travel, and now has a portfolio of tours. His biggest market now is in Göreme, in Cappadocia where the fairy chimneys and the valleys between them make an ideal playground for adventurous bikers. However, he also runs a successful tour on the St Paul Trail, where the steepness of forest paths and tracks in and around the Köprülü Canyon makes the biking hard work!
I just ran into him in the Kaçkar, where he was doing the groundwork for a biking group who will be doing a seven-day program starting on August 28th. This will include both the area around the Çoruh valley and the foothills of the Kaçkar – on a mix of dirt roads, tractor tracks, single-track and occasionally dragging the bikes down a waterfall or through a river. All the tour will be on the south side of the range, where the weather is guaranteed to be better.
Among the places where the group will stay is the Barhal Pension. We met there on the first day of Bayram, and jon had the chance to finalise the accommodation and to check out a new route around the Onbolat Valley and up to Sarıbulut Yayla and the famous plateau at Satibe, from where there are fantastic views over the Altıparmak (six-fingered) mountains.
As well as group tours (where Jon provides the bikes, a minibus to transfer the luggage and mechanical help with maintenance), Jon also arranges self-guided tours on some of the Culture Routes. We hope to cooperate with him more in the future – watch this space for news of more bike tours.