6000 miles to Cappadocia
The road was amazing. We had been on long motorways for almost a week and the predictable sweeping roads from Kaynarca to Akcakoca on the Black sea coast of Turkey were a fantastic change of pace. It was a dual carriageway but really nice radius bends with a good surface. We switched from one bend to the other seamlessly. Al was out front about 200 metres ahead, he disappeared over a crest a hill in a quick left hander and I saw no brake lights so I took it as my queue to accelerate. I crested the brow of the hill to be met with about 2 football pitches worth of shiny, black, hot liquid tar. I screamed inside my helmet, this was going to hurt!
I just caught sight of Al, legs stuck out to the side skidding left and right ahead of me. I stood the bike up as much as I could and can remember thinking "donít panic, keep off the brakes, donít turn and stop screaming". I was heading towards the central reservation at pace; there was no way I was getting away with this one.
The story of how I ended up in Turkey on this trip with Al starts about 2 years ago. He came along on a Morocco trip that I was on and as he lives in Norwich, East Anglia which is quite close to me we stayed in touch. There is a ride report here.
That was written by a good friend of mine, Si who I seem to have lost contact with recently. There were then a few shorter trips around Wales and the like before me and Al went on a trip to Tunisia last year. Ride report here
Even before we were back from Tunisia we were already planning this year's trip to Turkey. The plan had been initially to try and get to Lake Van in Eastern Turkey and back in 21 days; however the distances involved soon put paid to that plan so a trip to see the ghost chimneys of Cappadocia seemed like a good end destination. 6000 miles would be easy:)
I am a serving soldier in the British Army so the maximum time I can get off is 3 weeks, also because I need to work right through the summer months I get to take my leave at the beginning of September each year which fits in nicely with the days getting cooler in the countries I like travelling in. Al is a commercial diver so works long shift patterns so 3 weeks off for him is never a problem with some forward planning.
You would think that people with the type of jobs me and Al have would spend hours meticulously planning a trip, working out all the different permutations of route, deciding which one we wanted to do. Then getting a complex plan together and sticking to it throughout the journey. Well we are nothing like that. Al did not even have a bike 3 days before we left. As usual he got off a plane from work, went on EvilBay found a bike he fancied, bought it, loaded it up and came to my work and said "right where we going".
The few things we had decided were that we wanted to see Colditz Castle, we wanted to spend a couple of nights drinking in Istanbul and the end destination was Goreme in Cappadocia. Everything else we would work out on the way.
The bikes were fairly regular, I had a BMW F800GS that I had had from new for a couple of years and Al had just picked up a KTM LC4 Adventure which was a few years old and itself has some travelling history having done the Trans American route from South to North with a Swedish guy a few years earlier.
Day 1 Thetford to Kent, UK
So on Aug 31 we met up at my work in Thetford late afternoon to head off to Folkestone for the train over to Calais. We had booked the train for 3 am the next morning to give us a full days riding and make some big distance on Day 1.
Nothing to report really on the trip down, just the usual pre trip nerves about where, when, how etc. We found a camp site on Dunn's Street Farm in Kent and quickly set up for an early heads down. I decided to go for the full expensive tent set up but my mate in his infinite wisdom could not be bothered as the stars were shining brightly with not a cloud to be seen. Well at 1:30 in the morning when I was woken to the sound of thunder and lightning and rain hammering the top of my tent I did laugh)))
Day 2 Folkestone to Urbach, Germany
We were meant to get up at 2, pack up and be on our way but the rain was absolutely hammering down so the decision was made to give it a couple of hours and pay the extra fare at the train terminal. By 5 the rain had stopped so we were up and moving. At this point most people would begin to say something like we had a pretty uneventful trip down to the train, but those people donít travel with my mate Al who is one of those people that if it can go wrong then it will go wrong. We were on the M20, me in front him close behind and he disappeared. A car pulled up behind me and said his engine had gone bang and there was smoke pouring out of the bike.
I immediately started thinking that was the joint trip over and I was off on my own. However a couple of minutes later I heard the familiar sound of a single coming towards me with no smoke. Al pulls up along side me and said "no problem mate, lets Go" with a sheepish grin on his face. What happened I asks, "I did not strap my tyre on properly" he replies. Then I notice the front tyre he had strapped onto one of his panniers was missing. It had slipped down onto the rear tyre on the bike and proceeded to become a full on cinematic smoke machine throwing pillows of black smoke all over the motorway.
The Train from Folkestone to Calais
The train journey cost us an extra £14 quid each for being late but this was no problem as I just happened to have that exact amount in my pocket.
We blasted along motorways all day today, through France, Belgium, Holland and finally into Germany. Even though I have lived in Germany for a few years it still amazes me there are not more accidents on German Autobahns which are put down to speed. I could be doing 90mph and be made to feel as if I was standing still after BMW after Mercedes after Porsche blast past me at amazing speeds.
I had been desperate for Jagerwurst mit pommes und mayonnaise since we left UK so I dragged Al off the motorway to find just what I was looking for. I move back to Germany next year, I think I am going to put some weight on :)
The obligatory Sausage and Chips in Germany
The ethos of this trip was we would wild camp as much as we could and only get a hotel or campsite when we wanted to drink.
The first campsite was around Urbach in Eastern Germany, beautiful rolling green hills and woodlands. We found a track off the motorway and just followed it. It was perfect, out of the way, no houses, quiet. As we were setting up an old guy turned up walking his dog. In my broken German we worked out he was 75 and is a motorbike tourer himself, and he had been touring Europe all his life. I gathered he is now to old to ride himself so his son carries him as pillion on the back of his BMW 1100GS. I wish my German was better.
Writing the notes up for the day
Day 3 Urbach, Germany to Dekanovice, Czech Republic
It was a day that I would fulfil one of my many ambitions before I die. I was going to get to see Colditz Castle. We have all seen the films and heard the stories but I wanted to see it first hand.
We had filled up with fuel the night before but Al needed to top up his oil so it was back to the garage for a few litres of the slippy stuff. If you read through either of the other reports about our trips you will see that it has been a nightmare for Alan to keep his bikes going with oil, and I have to say I did hear him mutter to himself "here we go again"
It was good to see the Ladies Harley Davidson Gang in the garage looking hard as nails in their leathers and denim in the garage. I was not confident enough in my German language skills or my fighting skills to go over and say hello:)
The roads over to Colditz were fantastic, tight twisty roads with a perfect surface and as it was early on a Sunday morning there was absolutely no traffic on the road.
Just outside Colditz a swallow committed suicide by motorbike, it crashed into my screen bounced into my peak and was cut in half. Blood and feathers all over my visor.
Colditz is one of those places that if you sit and think about what was actually achieved there and the human endeavour required to escape from such a high security prison you can truly have a defining moment of self reflection.
We spent a few hours walking around the museum listening to some of the guides talking about not only the prisoners but the guards as well, detailing not just the escape attempts that everyone knows about but also the amazing creations the prisoners came up with such as 2 way radios, passports and escape 'uniforms'
I sat in the prisoners' courtyard for about half hour while Al was wandering, I had heroic escape attempts swirling around my head and contemplated life and how short it was. Note to self 'try and do and see more things that matter'.
Signing the visitors book
While we were at the castle we met a bloke called Ian who had planned all year with 3 friends to tour Germany and some of the Baltic States on their sport bikes. One by one they all dropped out (sound familiar) so he decided to go himself. His is the beautiful Kawasaki ZX10R you see in the picture.
Previously I stated the ethos of this trip was wild camping, but the shame of it I needed to use the internet and we came across a McDonalds. Just stop here and use the internet I thought, no we had a massive burger, chips and coke and just for good measure had a chicken burger as well:(
We stopped that night a few miles from Dekanivice in the Czech Republic, which is somewhere between Prague and Brno. Wild camping again, normal routine, find a spot, wait 10 mins to see if anyone shows up. Tent up, brew up, chat about tomorrow til about 9, and then bed ready for the mornings ride. This camp was deep in the woods and we had to ride a couple miles down some logging tracks, I loved this place and I would like to get more woodland time if I could in the coming weeks.
More please... I'm hooked! :thumb
This is more time consuming than i thought :)
Day 4 Dekanovice to Ozd, Hungary
I woke up quite late this morning, around 08:30 local time. It was real quiet but I thought I would stick my head out of the tent to smell the beautiful pine forest we had stopped in last night. Al was almost packed up! Bugger, note to self 'stop being lazy in the mornings'.
We stopped at a garage on the A56 after Brno to fill up and grab a Red Bull. The garage was rammed full of Americans on a bus tour of the area, and with the typical load voices that seem so prevalent in some states, discussing who was better, the New York Yankees or the Jets. I am a Green Bay fan so I had to join in :) We ended up having quite a good chat with these guys, one of them even bought me a cup of coffee. You would be amazed at how many of them decided their ancestry was Welsh when I told them I was Cardiff born and bred.
Al had decided to try and organize a replacement front tyre for the one that had burnt up in Folkestone so he had been on the phone to Buz Motors in Istanbul to sort it, however having no Turkish he had no chance of getting his message across so we decided just to have a look around when we got there.
After we had crossed over from Czech to Slovakia around Trencin We arrived at a place called Banovce Ind Bebravou, it was around lunchtime, so headed to into town to try and find a supermarket to grab a sandwich and get some stuff for dinner later. It was then I noticed 2 things, there is a Tesco in practically every town, small or large in the Czech Republic, and Slovakia and also the stories of beautiful women in the east that I had heard over the years are all true.
We also found this forums dream shop, take a look at the photos and see how many old style adventure bikes you can see. I loved it in there and I could have stayed for hours stroking those old Hondas and Yamahas but time was pressing so off we went.
How many amazing bikes can you spot?
I loved the roads in Slovakia, a beautiful mountainous country. Although we pretty much blasted straight across it I have decided I am definitely coming back here to spend a few days exploring.
Today had been the first day that we had actually had some proper time off the motorways and it felt good. In particular the E50 from Trencin to Zvolen which was a fast a road with 60 mph sweeping bends.
I had a near miss today, riding along the motorway at about 80 I did the normal mirror, signal manoeuvre into the overtaking lane. I had noticed a car way behind me but I had plenty of room so went for it. As I made the move I happened to glance in my mirrors and this car was going much faster than I thought and he was not stopping. I swerved back to my right as he came barrelling past me. As he drew level with me he slammed on his anchors as if he had just noticed me, and you have guessed it he was on his phone in one hand with a Costa coffee cup in his other hand.
In previous trips my riding partner seems to have been a draw to animals that want to scare the bejesus out of us. In the past a dog, badger, deer and even a donkey (I am not joking) have all tried to throw Al of his bike. Today we added chicken to that list of animals. It ran straight under his front wheel, luckily the bike is so heavy he almost did not even realize he had hit it.
The crossing from Slovakia into Hungary at Talnaja was deserted, all the buildings and offices are still in place and as we sat there drinking a can of coke I could imagine just how difficult in previous years it would have been making the journey of about 500m from one country to the other.
Once across the border it was time to find camp and it had become my job to do so. However as Al was up front on the KTM and had seen a track off to the side of the road he dropped off to see what he could find. We were in an area of small hills and it looked like someone had recently been trying to reclaim land from a few years of neglect. Brown patch of land found, the bikes were parked up, oils and bolts were checked and it was time for chilli con carne for dinner.
Day 5 Ozd to Sebse, Romania
I could smell sausages cooking. Al was up early as usual, but I could hear other voices so I was up quickly.
There was a group of about 10 local workers who were standing watching us and the bikes. I had been led to believe Hungary was an unfriendly place and that I would only have bad experiences. So when a guy about my size came over and said something in his own language I expected the worse. However I gave him my biggest smile, held out my hand to shake his and said hello. This seemed to break the ice and I spent the next 15 minutes showing him my maps and the motorbikes. We offered him some sausage but he kept refusing saying his 'chef' would be there shortly. What I misunderstood was it wasnít Jamie Oliver coming to cook him breakfast it was his 'chief', or his boss that was coming and when he turned up I though it was a joke because this bloke was absolutely massive. Have a look at the photo and imagine how big he is, I am 6 foot 1 inch and about 14 stone. I thought he would give us a bollocking for being on his land but he was a lovely bloke called Marius and he insisted on me showing him in detail where we had been and where we were going. I hope all our destinations are as friendly as Hungary.
The further into Hungary we went the darker peoples skin seemed to be getting, the scenery was becoming more sunburnt and changing from lush green rolling hills to flat expanses of farmland interspersed with industrial units such as power stations and factory's. We were definitely heading towards Asia.
Someone told me before I left that the Hungarian roads are long, busy roads that people travel just to get from one place to the next, they were not enjoyable roads to ride. I hate to admit it but he was right. I really wanted to like Hungary, especially after the meeting with Marius and his workers but there was just something about this country that made me wish I was back on the roads of Slovakia or Germany.
We crossed the border into Romania at Ordea where I got into a conversation with some guys at the border who were also trying to cross. I could not believe how American they all sounded and it seems that they all learnt English by watching and repeating the lines from films which had subtitled Hungarian.
It was then East to Cluj then south to Alud before finding a nice wild campsite up in the hills outside Sebse.
I was sensing a little bit of tension between me and Al at the minute, which is really strange because we had travelled together several times and I had never felt it before. Now I am known for getting angry and barking at someone for something silly but Al is the most placid bloke you would ever meet. I bet no one else reading this can say they have never got into fisticuffs with someone at somepoint.... well Al hasn't, Ever!
I had obviously done something to wind him up or maybe we both just needed to relax into the trip. It also may have been the fact Al had been working his ass off on the rigs for 9 weeks, had no rest time and was now smashing himself trying to ride 6000 miles in 3 weeks. I am not sure it what was causing it but im sure it will get back to normal soon.
Today had been a long day, concentrating all the time we were very tired however, tomorrow it was to be the Transalpina and I could not wait.
More please... :clap
Fantastic report. :clap:D:lurk
Thanks guys, i know people write these for themselves but it is nice to know someone else is reading along:D
Next bit later today.
Day 6 Sebes to Varna, Bulgaria
There was an air of excitement in the air this morning, we were woken by a tractor ploughing the field we were camped in at 5 o clock. I had a great sleep which is unusual for me. Once we were up and breakfast was cooking on the old whisper lite, the driver of the tractor came over for a chat. Fanni turned out to be the land owner who was extremely proud of his John Deere tractor.
Fanni and his John Deere
I tried to get him to let me have a go at ploughing but he laughed and im sure he swore in Romanian at me:) He did say it had been a tough couple of years for him and his farm as there had been very little in the way of rain recently. No good for poor farmers but great for motorbikers.
We set off from Sebes and headed towards Sibiu and the Transalpina. This was another thing I had on my bucket list and when we got to the start of the road I could hardly contain myself, reminding myself to ride properly and not get lazy in the bends. It started off well, the road was a concrete type construction and nice and dry. There was no traffic and the sun was out, I was leading and started to up the pace.
Al is a far more competent rider than I am and I could see him in my mirrors straining at the leash to go faster. After about 10 minutes the road surface changed to tarmac and the traffic started to get heavier. We were making good progress though, beautiful sweeping bends, left then right, past clear glistening lakes and thick woodland.
At one point we tipped the bikes into a bend to be met by an overpowering stench of diesel, there was a huge arc of the stuff on the inside of the bend on the white line running down the middle of the road. I am glad I had decided to ride like a pro and was on the outside of the bend trying to see as far forward as possible because quite often I get lazy and drift into the middle, in this instance that could have been catastrophic. Al had got bored of following by now and flew past me on a sharp left hander and had disappeared from view in seconds. I plodded along at old mans pace taking in the views and enjoying the ride.
I enjoyed the road but I have to say I was left a little underwhelmed if im honest, the Transalpina was a nice road but I have ridden far better roads. The A487/A470 from SW Wales to North Wales is just as good a riding road and the A832 in the highlands blows it out of the water for views. There was far too much traffic and diesel for it to be classed as a truly great road. Maybe next time I will try the Transfargaren instead.
We stopped at a place called Pitesti for lunch and I had spotted a nice looking sandwich shop which made us a huge bread roll stuffed with chicken, hot tomatoes, red onion and some mushrooms with a can of Mountain Dew each all for the princely sum of £3. Chatting with Al, he agreed with my assessment of the Transalpina, we had both ridden better roads.
We headed towards the border with Bulgaria and Bucharest. I have a small confession to make to Al here. I decided at the last minute to bolt off the motorway so I could have a quick look at Ceausescu's palace and as I was in the lead he followed. We spent the next 2 hours or so gridlocked and going round in circles trying to find our way out of the city. Wish I had just stayed on the motorway because I did not see anything that resembled a palace never mind the real thing. Sorry Al.
Just over my shoulder you can see a smashed up bike, bet that hurt
We crossed into Bulgaria at Giurgiu, I made the normal stop to get some local currency only to be amazed to see that Frank Lampard had found a new job, but surely he had the wrong colours on. (Sorry for the non British who may not have any idea what that means)))
Frank Lampard selling Bulgarian Cash
From the border we headed on the E87 from Ruse to Madara and what an amazing surprise, it was a stunning road, nice surface, predictable sweeping bends and not a car or truck anywhere. I think I like Bulgaria.
The Nights Camp
Cmon Shad we're waiting:clap:clap
Terrific Ride Report...
Love the report .keeping me well amused.thanks for putting it together.
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