"Dnt Dnt Dnt Dnt I've been driving all night, my hands are wet on the wheel". Golden Earing playing Radar Love, bounces round in my head as I scan the traffic ahead, God this is frustrating. Bingo, Just what I have been waiting for, that split second when a truck hesitates and a gap opens in the traffic. I hit the throttle on Bumblebee ( Kerry's nickname for my Yellow BMW1200gs Adventure) At 300kgs in slow traffic she is a handful, but as the power comes on she turns into a nimble thoroughbred, I feel that subtle twitch as the front end floats 100mm off the bitumen, I don't care, she winds out in second and I push up through the gears as the long line of trucks become a blur on my right hand side. There is still four trucks left in the line when I start decelerating, the exhaust break gives that awesome throaty growl that identifies the gs's, At the speed I am going, I am past them in no time and swing into the right lane with not much ahead of me, Finally! I am clear of the miles of trucks and things will settle down a bit. Behind me I can hear (Betsy ) Millsy's GS start to wail. He has found the gap, and he is not backing off, he flashes past me, well in excess of 200ks. He is having a ball, Jacket flapping in the wind, his feet up on the horizontal cylinders and a great s*** eating grin on his face as he disappears up over the rise. As I crest the hill and look down onto the bitumen road curving down into the little valley and up the other side I see the other 11 bikes of our group strung out on the road ahead . We left Istanbul, Turkey, this morning, crossed the Bosporus on a 15min ferry ride to Asia Minor and started the long slow grind through the massive numbers of trucks heading out of the huge city of Istanbul to various locations east of the capital. Some 350kto the east of us lies our destination for tonight ,Safronbolu. A small UNESCO listed village of Ottoman Empire vintage. Welcome to day 14 of Millsy & Hugh's RTW2012 Trip. I met up with Mills in London on May 16th and the next day I met the Compass Expedition Crew and riders who we had decided to join for the London to Magadan leg of our Round the World 2012 Trip. We thought by going with an experienced tour operator that everything would be smooth sailing, It's been a wide mix of people for this trip and some great stories will be told I'm sure as we ride this journey..
Anyhow I went up to Felixstowe with them to pick up The Bumblebee from the docks. She had had an argument with a forklift that no one wanted to talk about .Hmm, it was easier for me to just fix the damage. Back to London where we spent the next day sorting things out. On the 19
th we had an interesting day on the Salisbury Plains, Dirt Riding on hired bikes to hone our skills. So on the morning of the 20th of May (My Dads Birthday , Funny really, its Dad who introduced me to motorcycles at an early age .One or two months of age actually. If I wouldn't go to sleep, he would put me in a Papoose and take me round the block on his James Captain. Instant sleep apparently. ( Guess I started younger than most)We left London for the Chunnel. From there we have spent the next two weeks riding through France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria and into Turkey. A hectic pace, but Russia , Mongolia and the Stans is our real focus, so we are burning a lot of K,s per day until we get into that area. Anyway bye for now. Hugh
Well after a days rest we head off leaving the blue mosque and land of Bazaars for a quick ferry trip over to the Asia side of turkey. I cannot believe we are here already starts repeating in my head. We all worked in sync to keep together to get to the ferry on time, the 4wd's arrived on the next departure. The day was beautiful and low and behold a start of good weather for us for a few weeks, not much change in the traffic aggressiveness and it was a good decent highway with tunnels to the heritage listed Safranbolu. Upon arrival in the town it does have it characteristic charm then reality kicks in and its just a tourist town that had a lot of buildings that need a bit of love and workman ship but hey why bother when there are tourists willing to buy a lot of miniature wooden house figures and rose flavored delight. Hugh and myself spent the arvo having a walk around and I tried a kebab to make sure they were making them to standards. Kebab was good and after dinner that night a few of us went to a cobble lane café for a Turkish coffee and a water pipe. The locals were pretty friendly but stand offish, the hotel we stayed in didn't allow alcohol at meal times, but that was fine we had our own wet mess in one of the lads rooms before supper.
Ever had the moment when you think, s*** this is it I'm gone?… Well here we are about 300klm into the journey into the beautiful cave city and here I fun into a near miss, Doing about 110 on a pretty good highway at the rear of the pack, maybe too far as I had allowed a car to get in-between myself and the bike in front of me. Anyway cruising to myself listening to JJJ and low and behold here runs out this dog to cross the highway straight after the car in front of me… ( I have to give him street credentials as he was willing to jump as soon as he saw a gap.
So all of a sudden I have a fist full of front brake and realizing "Well at least I have padding", at that moment I have never had a look from an animal or human being like it, I swear we both were saying in our heads " oh b*****" I think between the two of us we did a exemplary job of frightening each other as he crawled back in time and I swerved to miss him and check if I needed to grab my second set of Draggin Jeans from the panniers. We stopped for a lovely roadside lunch and after a ride around the town and a few fancy shots overlooking the area ( Steve has a wicked shot of my bike on his blog too by the way ha) we were keen to check into the Shoestring Cave Hotel and receive the warm welcoming of Ali and his crew to settle us in for a couple of days. We had pizza and a cold beer overlooking the valley as the call to prayer was been done, a real amazing place to be as the sun is going down.
" What happened to the sleep in mills?" Hugh muttered to me as I had the s***s on as much as he as our body clock just didn't want us to have a big rest yet. All the other crew had decided to do the hot air balloon in the wee hours of the morning for a above view of the beautiful area, "Yeah I know mate" I muttered, anyway I had a mission to achieve today retrieve a handlebar rising bolt out of my exhaust and replace a nut of the panniers that has shaken off from dodgy European roads or is that me going to quick for pot holes?
The day I sent my bike to London a few months previous my loving nephew Jack was with me down stairs at Claire and Andy's place finishing the final check list on the bike at Altona. Mind you that was three days after finishing work in Wonthaggi and riding over the alpine region, stopping at a random pub, leave in the wee hours to be on time for BMW Blacklocks Wodonga to open up and make it for breakfast with Uncle Paul, Aunty Deb and Meg sorry I was late guys. Then with two spare tyres and a bit lighter in the pocket I headed off for a quick catch up beer with Matty Keane in the Telegraph in Numurkah before settling for the night in the Overlander in Shepparton. I struggled to kick it off the centre stand it was that weighted down with bags and spare parts ha…. I rode to Altona that morning and fitted in a quick flight to Tassie that morning to get my knee looked at. " Well Brendan here's a script and we'll see you when you come back"…. Great, now I'm carrying a years worth of anti-inflammatory tablets with me for a bike trip around the world and I have to return that night to Melbourne to send my bike off the next day. Maybe all those years (8 plus years now lads ) of carrying chain blocks and scaffold have taken a toll on me, not to mention the town clowns we have to deal with on each job with their chests' poked out with their fresh advanced rigging tickets and belts with 4 pound hammers on their waist wanting to erect the place in a day. Hmm maybe I should type this sober ha…
I'm not being big headed but I'll take the Pepsi challenge on any one who wants to do the amazing race against me… ha. So where were we? Yeah right Jack, he must of finally realized the shapes game we were playing earlier on in the lounge room and while he was down with me in the car park in Altona doing the finishing pieces on the bike I hear this, tink de tink and I look up at him and he has this big grin on his face, yup sure enough uncle Brendan you can do that job later on mate .
Well the grin didn't last long with him as I colorfully explained where he should be and to keep still. Hard I know to a two year old but he really was good about it, he'll be a good hand in the shed when I get my own place. I don't know what his mum will say when he wants to have a bike like his uncle. I recall the last hour with him just sitting there watching me maybe with him realizing the fun was over. After that I jumped on the bike and rode to Tullamarine and the photo you see of Hugh and myself on the bikes at the start is that day when we said goodbye and awaited for their arrival in Felixstowe of our pride and joys.
After Ali helped me retrieve my exhaust off my bike and replace a few bolts on the panniers, we settled for a planning of that's night's festivities. An evening of traditional dancing and belly dancing was planned and I couldn't wait, I've always had a thing for the belly dancers. We arrived I the en-caved dance arena with our crew plus Ali and enjoyed a local beer or two as we were inducted into the world of the spinning Turkish dancers. It really is something to see as you have these lads who spin on their tip toes for minutes in their pure white dresses to music not missing a beat or showing a sign of dizziness. We had a mix range of different dances that night and it felt as if the night never ended… Well not for myself, when the belly dancer came out to the arena she did a walk around and was sussing out the crowd. Myself feeling quite happy and confident was clapping and giving the full eye contact, I was just happy with the return smile but low and behold she had a plan for myself. After a minute or two of her gyrating her hips she was calling for volunteers, well my handsome self just must of etched in her head for a candidate, ( hey come on I don't get it much) so here I was brought up with two other ladies to do a following sync act to her, moving our hips like a backstage performer for Shikera as she set the motion, I'll put the video and some photo's up soon but it should be a laugh as I haven't seen them yet either. It really was a great night and a few off us finished off having a tea overlooking the Goreme hillside, Ali I have to say thanks again for your hospitality and for helping me out with finding some bolts, I hope I can return the favor to you in time when I have a place of my own or when I return as you certainly live in a beautiful place in this world.
After looking at the beautiful hills of Goreme disappear in the mirror we started to head NNE in the direction of the UNESCO Heritage village, The ride included a few more tunnels and decent maintain highway. When we arrived in the afternoon at our hotel on the foothills of the tombs and fort we had a couple of hours before dinner for a walk around. Hugh visited the tombs and I went walkabout in town. It really is a beautiful city for a stop over the river that runs through the town has quite a current and I would imagine it sustains life for many out here. After dinner I made a walk to the footbridge for some great photo's and then gladly returned to my room for bed.
So here we are our last full day riding in Turkey until the ferry ride of a life time to Russia, ha. Anyway we checked into our Hotel over looking the black sea and started to plan our day off for tomorrow. It was quite an interesting area on the coast as the council had decided in their great wisdom to extend their current beach head, and no need to do it with clean land fill why not use some of the rubbish tip and solve two problems (More land and less rubbish). .maybe for now. It was quite upsetting to see how some things work in some countries, talk about s***ting where you eat you could clearly watch the slit / rubbish float away into the beautiful black sea. The evening was spent overlooking the sea and sipping our beers out of paper bags as the restaurant didn't serve alcohol. I didn't want a six pack just one beer with my meal and they were happy but quick to destroy any evidence that alcohol was tolerated in their premises.
Our spare day was quite a busy one, we headed out to the Sumela Monastery about 60klm's of winding roads out from our hotel. It was quite a great ride and our with us selecting the shorter route for our journey on our gps's we had quite the tour through the mountains on dirt roads and the view was quite breathtaking and making you feel as if you were riding the hills of south america. Upon arrival at the national park gates we pay an entry fee, then after riding another 15klm parking the bikes and walking another 2 clicks you can pay again western man. Glad Hughy brought his wallet. The monastery had quite the history being first erected 386ad at an altitude of 1,200metres. Legend has it that two priests undertook it's creation after discovering a miraculous icon of the virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain. The monastery has fallen into ruin over the centuries between emperors but was home to monks until the Russians Empire seized it during the occupation of Trabzon.
It was quite a building and once restoration is complete it will be quite a longer walk around. (I presume around 20% was open when we visited). After the descent from the mountains and good strong Turkish coffee we hit the corners harder on the way out and rode on to the home of Ataturk, founder of the Turkish republic and the first president of the republic and was quite a successful leader with his famous order to his soldiers on the Gallipoli front "I do not order you to attack, I order you to die" making it clear he was not a man to sidestep a invasion. A lot can be explored about the man and we visited his house which was given to him by the city of Trabzon in 1937 as a gift of his third visit to the city. The bathroom smelt like it still had the water in the top tank since then too.
After that quick visit we thought the 5 of us would ride into the CBD and have a look around, well were is the central part of town we were asking ourselves? After a brief ride on the sidewalk in the city we found a bike car spot in front of a building oh hang on it's the local police beat spot.(can't get any safer than that!). After been told to move on around the corner we had lunch at a kebab house and rode back to our hotel in the rain. Oh yeah tomorrow Russia…
We left the hotel nice and early and I'm sure you got most of my feelings of the voyage in the first blog… Till next time folks take care