I spent most of 2009/10 in the saddle cruising at an average of 60k a day across Europe and the Middle East. A large part of this trip was in Turkey. It’s blooming massive and in January it turns out it’s pretty cold too. So there we were in -10c merrily pedalling through 6am fridgid fog wishing we had stayed in bed till noon eating well…nuts cos that’s all there was to eat really….yes, so there we were….when out of the haze that surrounds us we hear the heavy beat of fast approaching somethings. They sounded big. So we pedaled a bit faster. Then we heard some heavy breathing. Not like telephone weirdo heavy breathing or sexy heavy breathing….more like, ‘I want to eat you and I probably will,’ heavy breathing. So we pedaled faster still. A gnashing of teeth nearby and a yelp of, ‘Dear holy christ,’ from my companion and bounding forth from the mist I see a creature running side on toward my front wheel. It is bigger than my bike and sports a rather fetching (in a mad max sort of way) collar embossed with 6 inch rusted nails. ‘Hmm,’ I think, ‘crap.’ Swerving out of its way I realise I may need new underpants soon and we race as fast as we can. I reckon Look Mum should employ the talents one of these dogs in crit races…it could be like the rabbit greyhound thing but back to front…so we get away. This time.
We later find out that these dogs are sheep dogs, protecting the flocks in central Turkey near Tuz Golu from the wolves that live on the lake. The collars protect their jugular. The size and viciousness of these dogs increases proportionally as you near the lake. Furthermore, they start to attack in packs. Of 12. Oh dear. So after a few days of tears, attempted hitching (fail) and nights listening to them roam around our tents undoubtedly thinking, ‘Mmm, supper,’ we arrange a protection squad consisting of an 11-year old boy, his uncle, a motorbike and a big stick. This was great for 2km till the boy had to go home. Prompted by one of the dogs getting hold of a rear pannier bag, we made some modifications to our bikes (see top picture). Our last encounter was I think my fault. I might have said, ‘Hey! At least they aren’t rabid!’ and lo and behold, a truck passes us on an uphill going 40kmph chased by a giant death dog, spikes and all, foaming white at the mouth. The animal doesn’t respond to the boulders we throw to deter him which hit him square on the back. At the next town we gaffa taped our knives to our sticks and practised lancing.