Ideals are for better tomorrows
We complain day in day out about the condition of our cities.
Where do we do this complaining? We do it on Twitter, on Facebook, in the car, in the restaurant, at the dinner table. Just like that, among ourselves. What do we do to change anything? We complain more, and we cast our vote every couple of years.
How many of us go and work for a non-governmental organization, join demonstrations, and try a different road? Let’s not count, I think we would be embarrassed.
There is one more person who will embarrass us. He is an urban and regional planning student at Mersin University, 22-year-old Boran Ovayolu. Boran started cycling from the southern city of Mersin on July 13, with the slogan “Two Wheels of Freedom.”
His 2,500-kilometer cycling journey will end in Istanbul on Aug. 30.
He summarizes his aim as follows: “I’m cycling for those cities that care about nature and protect it, that have quality living conditions, and where the creatures living in them are free.”
His route covers the Mediterranean, Aegean and Marmara regions, and he examines the nature and settlement of the places that he passes through and shares them on the Internet and social media.
While we are writing rebellious tweets in our air-conditioned rooms, such as “They have built shopping malls in green areas that were designated as safe centers during earthquakes,” Boran, in this hellish heat, is covering a distance of 55 to 60 kilometers a day.
He cycles every morning between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. If he has not reached his target of the day by that time, he takes a break and continues in the evening.
He climbs the slopes and ramps at a certain tempo. At first his feet ache badly, but once he accelerates, he gets used to it and warms up. When his tire is flat, he fixes it.
He has a small health kit with him: Shampoo, a toothbrush, sun screen, deodorant, clothes, a tent, a mat, fly-repellent, an inflatable pillow, a spare tire, a pump and a cycle lock.
He camps for four days running, then stays in a hostel or with a friend. He has a carbohydrate and protein-dominated diet. He eats a lot of fruit, takes vitamins, drinks energy drinks and mineral water.
In addition to the two flasks he has with him, he also has an extra bottle of water in his bags. When he is out of water, he refills from trucks on the road.
Some of the people he has met on the road are also like him. For example, Hakan Topal, who he met in Akyar, is the Mersin regional representative of the research and rescue organization AKUT. Topal once walked from Mersin to Ankara with the slogan “The Step by Step Fight Against Leukemia.”
Boran shares the cultural richness of the places he has passed through on his journey, as well as the problems of the local people. He speaks to the workers constructing a tunnel; he listens to the issues of the villagers; from time to time he helps people collect garbage.
He visits old Greek houses, bird paradises, castles and historic mansions. He chats with map historians and observes the nests of caretta carettas.
Sometimes he’s accompanied by a Norwegian cyclist; at other times road workers offer him cold drinks.
The journey is the first time Boran has been outside of Mersin.
He has explained how he cycled up to the clouds starting from the seaside, how clouds gathered around his chest, how when he saw the Mediterranean - one side green, one side blue - he thought to himself, “I set out to experience what I am feeling right now.”
“Is it difficult? It is very difficult,” he said, while adding, “I have met very nice people. I have discovered new things about myself; I found myself. I felt free; I felt I am alive. I am making my 6-year-long ideal come true. Just as my brother Hüseyin said, ideals are for better tomorrows.”