the gods are with the idiots - or : a long winter 2-Stroke ride
So what am I doing here, freezing on a wintery croatian highway, more than 1.500 kms from home, riding an old MZ-Hack direction Serbia ?
It's a bit of a story, but I don't know how and when exactly the idea started. I think it was maybe after the last Tauernmeeting, where I didn't participate. And felt so sorry for myself.
Maybe it was also Özge's idea.
Özge is my best turkish friend, our contact was made by our common friend "Jawa-Koarl" (Jawa - Charlie) from Vienna before I even entered Turkey.
I'm Andreas, 45 years old and since 1,5 years I'm the Head of Admin in the Austrian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
first stages of preparation, rolling trials with the new hack
well, Chapter one, our preparations:
I begann with some things quite early, like ordering special winter tyres through some channels in Austria. The most important thing was to get the MZ hacked. I was not contemplating doing that trip on a solo. And Özge had a hack, too. A 350 cc Jawa.
We are maybe the last 2-Stroke riders in Ankara, the 2-Stroke Partizans.
So I had to research the market and the nightmarish turkish bureaucracy for a way to do that within limited means.
In the end I ordered a freight-sidecar with a south-turkish producer. For appr. 350,- $ it was delivered to my mechanic friends workshop.
So we installed the hack, the electrics, changed the chain and sprocket, overhauled the forks and put stronger feathers, changed the rotten fusebox, the clutch, installed heated gips, a windshield and made a few other preparations.
Özge took it with turkish nonchalange and was also hoping on an amnestie for his years of unpaid Taxes, which didn't materialise, though and he paid up. His biggest problem was to get his sidecar registered in his bikes papers. In former years this wasn't done in Turkey, but now, with the introduction of german TUV it was asked for - and nearly impossible to get.
In the end, he finished his paperwork at the last minute, with some help from other bikers and their connections to the police.
We also had to mount a freight boat, as person -boats are no longer permitted here ( at least for getting the papers).
Birol, our friend and Chief Mechanic, who learned the trade at Audi and Porsche in Germany. He's got his own shop here.
The boat being brought in form to fit the Velorex frame
We contacted our friends and the Forums for places to stay overnight on the road.
We had a turkish construction site tent made, as our usual cheap tents might not stand up to the rigors of the alpine winter and tried to prepare ourselfs and our equipment as good as we could, including snow chains, shovels, gas heater and whatever.
What all this for ?
Well, to meet some friends
On the "Tauerntreffen", the Winter-Alpine-Meeting of the Austrian "Alteisentreiber-IG", the "Scrap-Drovers-Association".
Some of you may have heard from the "Elefantentreffen" - let's just say that this happens at about the same time, but in the lowlands.
"where indifference meets insanity, that's where the scrapdrovers ride beginns" (Bert, the oilburner)
Part 2, the first days rides, soon to follow
Great intro!! Give us more details! :thumb
Very Cool Hack!! I wish we had an importer or manufacturer of inexpensive light weight rigs like that, here in the US.
Looks like this will be a good ride... lets go.:lurk
chapter 2, from Ankara to Plovdiv, Bulgaria
So we set out on Saturday the 22nd January - late as usual.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
The goal of this day was Istanbul, where we would stay overnight in a guestroom of the Consulate General, which is located not to far from the northern bridge.
Anybody who has an idea of this 13 million mega-city knows, how location and traffic affects everything - Özge's wife was there this day on business, but in an other part of town, and so they couldn't see each other - it would have taken hours.
This etape was planned as a quiet familiarization ride for the hacks and the way they are loaded and for us; in Istanbul we would still be within our networks, have friends, shelter, cheap spares and specialists relatively easily available.<o:p></o:p>
The first break down of the trip happened right out of my garage door - flat sidecar tire, when I tried to pump it up, the valve blew out.<o:p></o:p>
As we had a spare wheel I simply changed the wheel, with the help of the security guards of the company next door.<o:p></o:p>
So half an hour late we are on the way.<o:p></o:p>
Ankara's Saturday morning traffic is no big headache, and we hit the highway soon, passing the treated Bolu Mountains with a pass height of 1.580m and their cold, fog and unpredictable weather at noon, the best time.
But it soon proofed to us that the distances of our days etapes where to be a major problem of this trip - to long.<o:p></o:p>
The hacks where cruising at about 80/85 - km/h, not miles. We just didn't have enough days to comfortably fit in the miles necessary.<o:p></o:p>
I had had no problem to get the vacation for this trip, in a relatively dead season without school holidays ( all my collegues have school age children), but Turks have very little vacation rights, and Özge had put in overtime since summer to get 2 weeks of, which was really a maximum for his company.
After the long ascent to the Bolu mountains we continued our leisurely path in acceptable temperatures onward to Istanbul.<o:p></o:p>
We arrived in the area shortly after nightfall and at the toll station I had a major shock – I couldn’t get the bike into neutral. After a few minutes of desperately haggling around in the stiff feeling gearbox, I found it, started up and continued, just to find that 3<SUP>rd</SUP> gear would not engage.<o:p></o:p>
My heart fell really to the bottom and I just thought that it couldn’t be, that the trip was already over before Istanbul.<o:p></o:p>
I tried several time anxiously to engage the gear, riding slowly in second on the right embankment. After a while the gear would engage, then also 4 th; 5<SUP>th</SUP> stayed blocked for some more time.<o:p></o:p>
With some relief I rolled over the bridge connecting Asia and Europe. <o:p></o:p>
But for all the remaining ride I had serious problems in finding a neutral, what together with a not really separating clutch is a bit suboptimal in city traffic. So now an overhaul of the gearbox is going to have to happen.
We arrived in the consulate, lifted the necessary luggage 3 floors up to the small guestroom under the roof, organized some beer and went in the beginning rain to find a restaurant for a not to expensive dinner.
Pretty soon we were fast asleep.<o:p></o:p>
The Consulate General is situated in an old small palace, that Sultan Abdulhamit the second had gifted to the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef some 150 Years ago. Luckily the Sultan had written in the deed that it may not be sold. Now the Consulate and the Cultural Institute are placed in this lovely building<o:p></o:p>
In the morning packing takes a bit longer because Özge had found that his newly modified and strengthened rear rack has cracked; he uses some wire to fix it, which will hold till today.
We set out through the urban landscape of Istanbul in beginning rain, which will strengthen to a veritable rainstorm.
While my fishing-trawler flotation suite holds well, Özge hesitates to put on his rain suit and then is soaked and miserable within minutes. The temp is about 8 C, not nice for riding soaked wet.<o:p></o:p>
We hed to a small town appr. 100km after Istanbul for a late breakfast, invited by inmate “VENTURER”, whom I met last summer on the aegean shore (it's real time to finish your ride report, Birdal !!)<o:p></o:p>
A nice meeting and good food, but time presses.<o:p></o:p>
We ride the long, rolling hills of Thrace, run out of petrol out of neglect for the first time, but the reserves are sufficient.
<o:p>the cooling towers do not belong to an atomic power station</o:p>
In the late afternoon we arrive at the border. The Turkish side passes fast, with some lovely customs girl shuddering at our sight –“you rode here from Ankara – brrr”<o:p></o:p>
At the Bulgarian border we are met by a friendly farm boy type cop with whom I had a sort of conversation about the MZ ( “we had 251 – what is 301 ? engine nema problem”) and a customs guy who smiles and tells us he rides a Virago.<o:p></o:p>
In the middle between the two is an Idiot who thinks Özges Schengen-Visa is fake. As my team doesn’t issue fake Visas in general I’m getting in a foul mood and hold him my passport under his nose, telling him clearly that I’m the Austrian Consul. After that he beats retreat.<o:p></o:p>
We met a few officials on the way who were amused or had troubles to connect my appearance with my diplomatic passport, but no other with a hostile attitude.
We were informed, that we didn’t need a toll sticker for the bikes, changed some money and filled up with cheap gas – gas in Turkey is 2 € /Ltr – and continued our way to Plovdiv on the Bulgarian state roads – no highway here.<o:p></o:p>
Once in a while we stopped for a coffee and a cigarette, trying to warm up.
<o:p>great cheese in this area</o:p>
<o:p>In the car I hate this stretch of road, but when you are the slowest vehicle on it, it's quite good riding. </o:p>
Near Plovdiv RTW Doug had provided us with a contact where we could stay for the night, with safe parking for the hacks, which was one of our major concerns on this trip – unloading would not be funny at all.<o:p></o:p>
After having been lead by Özges Navigation system right into Plovdiv instead of around it and loosing our way there admidst the communist high rises, due to deviations because of road construction, we found Atanas small town and after an interesting ride through the small streets of a town still very much trapped in the old times we found Atanas house (after calling him, actually, but we where in the neighborhood).<o:p></o:p>
Atanas is a bear of a man, a real gentle giant, which proofed handy immediately, as he hadn’t calculated the width of our hacks and we had to build a way through his garden to park them behind the house. Luckily some concrete slabs were already there for later construction.
Afterwards we are royally treated by Atanas and his cart racing wife, pork chops and farm chicken, Kamenitza dark beer, home made peach compot with Vodka… <o:p></o:p>
Just thinking that I hope I will lose some weight on this trip, not only because I really should, but also as an argument for further tours.
Chapter three soon to follow
edit : Özge has prepared some maps now, here's for the frst two days
I'm happy to read your trip. Im sure its going to make me mad that I didnt come with you!
Was this the Bulgarian border guard you met? His name is Kiro.
Thanks Doug !
Yeah could be him or might be a similar looking but younger guy. Good guy anyway.
Looks like I got to send you a compass-prayer rug, so Mehmet and me still hope on a Solo-Tour soon through the East - Balkans - then we could visit you in Bulgaria.
This time we made it only to Sofia
i wished you were. next time maybe.
well we are thinking about to make a short trip to your Motocamp. when ? actually i dont know yet. i hope we can make it soon :evil
Well, I plan to see you both this summer. Were hosting a horizons unlimited meeting the end of May, and after that, I'll be coming your way as I head east. It would be great if you guys could come for the HU meeting & do a slide show of your trip. People would really like that!
I met a guy who has an Iranian wife, & her aunt is some sort of tourist agent in Iran, so Im working on the visa.....
I'll be in BG the last 2 weeks of May, & will also be back end of sept.
chapter 3 : Bulgaria to Serbia
So after a good night’s sleep we had some coffee, Özge tightened the screws on his cylinder head and after a thankful goodbye to Atanas we went of direction Serbia.
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<o:p>Meeting people like Atanas is one of the things that make slow travelling so wunderfull</o:p>
The first few kilometers lead us through a rural Bulgaria, where not much seems to have changed since a short stay I had in 1999.<o:p></o:p>
We climbed the mountains towards Sofia, and the weather got relatively cold and miserable.
Özge had some problems with a frozen clutch cable, but due to the unique Jawa clutch construction it didn’t matter - at least then.<o:p></o:p>
The Road through resp. around Sofia is really bad, sometimes two potholed lanes and choked with trucks. And there was a real chilling wind.<o:p></o:p>
We stopped at a Station to warm up a bit and a beautiful Lady explained us she would ride, too, in the winter when she was young and bought us some chocolate. I think we must have looked a bit miserable.<o:p></o:p>
Anyway, brain was to frozen to make a photo; she was a bit younger than us, BTW.
We continued for the border which we passed in a breeze, sympathetic faces everywhere, and followed the road to Nis, which leads through a beautiful river canyon.
Here Özge has a chat with a turkish trucker at the border ; those guys greeted us everywhere and would signal when passing us; gave us some kind of a feeling of not being alone.
At about 14h we stopped at some roadside restaurant for lunch and Özge got his first lesson in serbian food; there is a reason why I gained 16 kg during 2 years work in Serbia in 1999/2000.
<o:p>Gourmanska Pleskavica - don't tell me about burgers </o:p>
<o:p>Restaurant "Starij Fiaker", old Coach, near Pirot</o:p>
Soon after that marvelous Lunch we reached the highway near Nis and dragged on northward, to the little Village of Klicevac on the Danube River, where my old friend Slavisa would host us for the night.
for a while it looked like we had to take a Hotel on the Highway, because Özge is quite a bit night-blind, but he battled on, and at 21h we arrived in Klicevac, quite a bit beaten by 11 hours of riding
<o:p>save and warm at least</o:p>
<o:p>I always loved Serbia, and it was good to be back with my "bratu" and his family</o:p>
<o:p>This installment is a bit short - I have to go to Birols garage now and bring home my bike- had a complete failure of the rear brake on the last 600 kms</o:p>
<o:p>chapter 4 coming soon</o:p>
Hi Andi and Özge. Waiting for more stunning pics.:clap
So where did we stop ;
In Serbia and a night full of food, wine and Rakija.
So naturally we left a bit late and not without having been filled by an exuberant breakfeast.
We rode back the country road to the highway, direction Beograd and Zagreb. The morning fog from the Danube river was so thick, that you couldn’t even see the huge open pit coal mine just to the south of the road.
It became a cool, but sunny day.
We rode on on a boring highway through the Slavonian plain.
Toll Station near Beograd
Abandoned Highway station south of Beograd
Trying out Baby's behind protection cream against the cold nose - we mostly ride with open visor; only heated equipment are the grips. Other heated equipment is not common in Europe - and might overwhelm our 20 year old generators
Just after the border, which again made no problems whatsoever, I had to tighten my chain for the first time – announcing later problems.
No more snow near Zagreb
As we had started after 10am, we arrived in Zagreb only at about 9 pm. At least this time Özges Navi did it’s Job.
We stayed for the night at the place of my friend and colleague Johann, with whom I worked three years in India and who had recently transferred from Chicago to Zagreb.
Suddenly we were back in middle European Civilisation for a few hours.
As with quite a few occasions on this trip, I did not make photos; one somehow has to learn to keep the later report and documentation in the back of the head to realize that photos should be taken here and there.
please notice gear-box oil in left front corner
After the rather long night in Klicevac I began to fall asleep while we chatted of old times over the first bottle of wine and so the next morning I woke up quite refreshed.
This time the Navi was leading us around in Zagreb, Özge watching the screen and not the roadsigns pointing through the highway, so that at least I overtook him and followed the signs.
Todays goal would be my parents house in Austria, just 90 kms from the meeting; we were in our timeplan, even if the dayli etapes proofed to be too long.
Austria, the goal; coming soon
You are not idiots but insane to trust these primitive tractors:eek1
Ever since I met Andi, I have been judging my English:earSo hard to understand him but he and Özge who I met are real cool comrades.
Coming to me on that day, bitterly cold and rainy.
First, Özge's bike meanwhile Andi trying to pay-card his toll and pushing out of the way.
Removing the armours, one must have great patience. Eeek....
Finally they did it an I freshly took their pics
And Özge ours
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