Where Nomads Trekked, Cyclists Will Roam


New bike paths may lure tourists off of Antalya's beaches and into its mountains. Photo by Alexander Naumov via Panoramio

Every summer, thousands of visitors descend upon Antalya, one of Turkey's popular Mediterranean resort cities, to bask in the sun and swim in the sea. But these days, some local groups are trying to attract a different type of tourist -- one more interested in cycling historic mountain paths than sipping cocktails under a beach umbrella.

Up until the early 19th century, the Toros (Taurus) Mountains that rise above Antalya were home to thriving communities of nomadic Yörük people, who spent summers on the mountains' high pastures with their herds. Today, some of their descendants are working with the Turkish-German Culture Foundation and European cycling teams to convert old trails to bike paths in hopes of increasing eco-tourism in the area.

Old Trails Converted To Bike Paths
Over the past two years, their project, called the Çarıklı Pedal Projesi after the traditional leather sandals, or çarık, worn by the Yörük, has readied paths and roads through six towns and 26 villages for bicycle use. A group of German cyclists from the Radsportverband cycling club that has already come to the towns of Alanya and Manavgat to try out some of the paths expressed its enthusiasm about using the area for winter training. "If we get the chance, we would like to do our training in Turkey from now on, rather than Spain, Italy or France," said group president Toni Kirsch. "We see Manavgat as a future version of what Spain's Majorca is right now."

Plans are underway for the Turkish and German national cycling teams to train together in the area in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. Via: "Nomadic paths to attract bicycle tourism from abroad," Today's Zaman

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Tags: Biking | Tourism | Turkey