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Old 02-07-2010, 05:55 AM   #31
Canadian - eh!
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Location: somewhere in Ontario, between many Great Lakes !
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Wicked !!
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:49 AM   #32
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Fantastic report from an unknown part of our world. Thanks so much for the time and efforts to share.
A14 KLR 43k miles ,07 1250S Bandit 75K miles , 03 Chevy Truck 80K miles '43 model me. Simper Fi
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:55 AM   #33
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It wasn't until the morning when it dawned cold and clear that we could see our surroundings:

The air was soon perfumed with smoke from cooking fires:

Steve, a journalist who rode along in a sidecar, took notes:

The shepherds' kids were curious about us and the bikes:

Tom and his brother Vince:

Tom takes tea:

Fresh milk for the tea:

Valeri, our Georgian rider, spoke with one of the shepherds:

Some of the shepherds exercised their horses as we kick started the bikes to life, so the inevitable happened: a race between horsepower and horse:

With the horse taking an easy lead by leaping over obstacles:

And winning easily:

Sasha returns after the race:

The mounted shepherds led us up and over the mountain pass. There was no road, just horse trails meandering through the meadows. I'm not sure we would have found the way without guidance. I'm told this is called the Ilgaz pas. It was the high point of the trip, both literally and figuratively, for me:

My bike:

Morning and the way forward:

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Old 02-07-2010, 09:59 AM   #34
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Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Central Arizona
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I get inspiration from good ride reports and this is one of them, thanks for sharing.
In 2009 I rode 18,589 miles on an island that's 72 miles long. That's 50 miles a day everyday for 365 days. I think I'll go home now. 97k miles and still riding my YouTube Channel
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:34 AM   #35
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Wow, this is by far my favorite RR so far. Keep it coming!
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Old 02-17-2010, 03:33 PM   #36
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what happened to the 'Rest of the story" ?
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:39 PM   #37
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Great RR, thanks that we can have many different cultural experiences here.
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Old 02-21-2010, 05:04 PM   #38
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I have very few photos of this day after what we took to calling the 'night of the shepherds.'

Satellite image showing the terrain from Tsalke to Bakuriani:

View Larger Map

We descended from the pass, led by one of the shepherds on horseback leading us on meandering paths that at first were merely flattened grass in meadows, but which as we descended turned into rutted, stony tracks. It was the opposite of the progression the previous evening, with the road taking shape instead of disappearing. At the higher altitude were meadows of mountain flowers and tufts of grass but at lower elevation, there was high, golden hay or grass growing in long, wide valleys. The road, such as it was, gave access to villagers' tractors; they harvested the hay for silage and some valleys had been cut to stubble and the grass put into haystacks. But some valleys were unharvested and it was easier to cut a path straight though the uncut hay, than to ride on the rutted tractor path. It was an ecstatic feeling top race at top speed for miles through the golden, chest or shoulder-height grass. You couldn't see the ground in front of you and if there had been a culvert or boulder, you would crash. But it was impossible to resist. Hawks circled overhead to catch whatever small game we flushed out.

All I have here is a bad scan:

We came to a small, ethnically Armenian village called Tabatskuri on the shores of a vast lake -- then started another long, steep ascent on rugged dirt roads.

Pause at the top of the pass -- our destination, Bakuriani lies at the foot of this mountain:

We consulted a map:

View of switchbacks from the pass:

On the descent into Bakuriani:

Matt riding and Steve in sidecar nearing Bakuriani with our support vehicle behind:

Beers upon arrival in Bakuriani:

Bakuriani is a dilapidated ski resort; we spent the night in a alpine-style lodge. We were way behind schedule -- we were supposed to be in eastern Turkey where hundreds of people were awaiting our arrival at an event but that destination was a border crossing and another another six hours away -- and we'd already been on the bikes for ten hours.

Next morning from Bakuriamni to the Turkish border -- at first on a winding, paved road through alpine forests, then along through Borjomi and along the banks of the Mtkvari (Kura) River.

On the way to Turkey:

Tom crossing the Kura River on a suspension bridge:

The paved road turned to gravel and we were slowed down by flat tires on two bikes; amazingly the main road from Turkey to Georgia was dirt and gravel on the Georgian side; I think ByleNaKaukaz who wrote recently in ADV on his trip to Georgia said that, almost ten years later, it remains a dirt road on the Georgian side.

It was Ian's and Ann's wedding anniversary -- somehow Thomas found out and surprise them with champagne at the border.

We were greeted by dancers on the Turkish side of the border:

Turkish border:

We were met by two Turkish oil ministry representatives at the border who accompanied us the rest of the trip, riding in the support vehicle or sometimes in the sidecars, and who helped with everything we needed in terms of logistics. We also picked up a security detail in Turkey. The Turks were very well organized and serious about helping our event to succeed:

It took us a while to cross the border and we still had a long way to go -- we had to get to Erzerum where we were expected to ride in a Turkish Victory Day parade the next morning (August 30). My Shell bike broke down and I hopped on pillion behind Sasha for a while. That gave Vagif, the mechanic, the opportunity to ride it to catch up with us and give it back to me after he fixed it, which he very much wanted to do after being cooped up in the support vehicle all day. Sasha and Roma, the main mechanics, didn't have their own designated bikes to ride but ended up doing a whole lot of riding anyway, spelling tired riders or 'testing' bikes they had just repaired.

We rode through a rain storm and some spectacular thunder and lightning:

Vince in the rain:

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Old 03-03-2010, 09:00 PM   #39
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We had 350 km from the Turkish border to Erzurum. But the bikes started to break down at the higher speeds brought on by the good roads and some long, labored ascents to the high plains of eastern Turkey. We'd ditched our trailer in the mountains of Georgia after its wheel bearings froze, which now required us to repair each bike where it stopped to move forward. But riders with working bikes were told to press on so at least some of us would arrive in Erzurum on time for the parade. So we ended up with three or four incapacitated bikes at different points along the road from the border to Kars and our convoy stretched several hundred kilometers. I found myself on the outskirts of Kars as night fell with my bike running well -- no sidecar passenger, which meant I was fast -- and with Ian and Anne in another bike. We were in the lead -- I followed Ian into pitch darkness toward Erzurum -- his taillights were a comfort. Then he pulled over for some reason and waved me on -- and I was out front. It was an amazing feeling riding on alone in the Turkish night. I have the greatest respect for ADV riders who go it alone -- and I had an illusion of that feeling on this leg of the ride. It was so dark it was disorienting -- like floating in space -- and the road was mesmerizing. After a couple hours I pulled over to gas up and drink some tea and after a while Thierry, our Swiss rider, pulled up on the green bike. At the outskirts of Erzurum we were waved over by a police car who had been waiting for us and he escorted us to a luxury hotel, where we arrived about midnight. The hotel staff had thoughtfully kept the dining room open for us.

All the others got to Erzurum eventually, some stragglers and the tireless mechanics at around at 3:00 a.m.

We rode in the Victory Day parade in Erzerum:

Every child's dream, to be in a parade. After the parade was a press conference and cake-cutting ceremony and Carl & Natasha and I cut out early and got a jump on everyone and rode toward our next stop, a village called Chayerli. The Turks were well organized and after a couple - three hours a policeman with a radio flagged us over and made us wait for the others to catch up. We were seething with impatience but it was for the best because we regrouped and were led by our escorts to a beautiful country road leading to the village of Chayerli, which was to host us for the night.

Approaching Chayerli we were met by young dancing girls at a bridge who quite captivated me. Music was by two guys, one with a horn pipe and the other with a drum, with a nice hook:

Carl and Natasha watched the dancing:

Nice for once to arrive with daylight to spare. I don't know who was the mayor of Chayerli but he was extraordinarily hospitable -- had us brought to a soccer field on the edge of town -- a beautiful camp with some tents already set up -- a big fire and coals to roast kebabs which they provided -- this little village went all out to host us. Our camp in Chayerli:

They were very considerate in parking a firetruck to supply water:

Eytan dancing in Chayerli:

That evening myself and a few other bikers joined in a torchlight evening Victory Day parade -- riding in two parades in a day -- and our musicians and dancers put on a show to repay Chayerli's hospitality.

Next morning departing Chayerli:

Outside Chayerli -- we had a police escort in a shiny new Land Rover -- they were dismayed at our pace on gravel roads and had tried unsuccessfully to divert us to paved. They soon gave up and let us go our own way without them.



View from the overlook; we were to descend into this valley and through Erzinjan -- the city below -- and then through the mountains beyond:

As sun set after all day on dirt roads we rejoined tarmac. But we were dismayed to see signs telling us we were hours away from our destination at Kangal. To be brief -- I took point -- it was bitterly cold and pitch black -- my arms were numb to the elbow. I was riding as fast as I could to get it over with -- way outrunning my headlight but trusting the signs -- fluorescent arrows marking curves. Some animal ran right in front of me but I didn't hit it -- did it go between my sidecar and the bike? Arrived around midnight at a spa outside Kangal called Balaj Kpliji. These are hot springs where fish and minnows have adapted and evolved to live -- they nibble the dead skin off your body.

So I stayed up for all hours in the steaming hot springs, recovering from the cold ride, and being nibbled by fish. And drinking. Now this was a conservative Muslim part of eastern Turkey but our hosts were considerate enough to offer us bikers "white tea" -- the licorice arak that will give you a buzz.

In the morning at Balaj Kpliji:

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Old 03-04-2010, 01:14 AM   #40
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Old 03-04-2010, 01:34 AM   #41
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A totally awesome,refreshing and invigorating Ride Report.

Inspirational too....with fantastic photos.

The only downside is how much wanderlust I`ve now got.

Thank you...thank you.

Any more to come ?

I'd only waste my money if I didn`t spend it on all my bikes......
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:22 PM   #42
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Thanks much for your comments, guys.

Today was to be our last full day on the road, and it was to be a long one -- so I was eager to start. But first our mechanics had to carry out what were by now routine rebuilds of several of the bikes (including the replacement of yet another valve). Another bike ran out of gas and had to be towed...

But eventually we were then on the roads leading south-west to Pınarbaşı, Tufanbeyli and Saimbeyli. The weather was superb, the scenery was austere but stunning and I joined a small break-away group of outriders whose bikes were running well; we rode ahead and raced each other until our exhaust headers glowed bright purple.

At the town of Saimbeyli Carl went off to get his leaking gas tank welded and the rest of the break-away group had lunch while waiting for the rest to catch up.

It was then a plunge down Sarız Çay valley as it cut its way through the Taurus mountain along a twisting, sinuous road of hairpin turns tracing a rushing river far below at the base of cliffs. This is the part that we wanted to ride in daylight, and I managed to get through it as the sun set.

We ended the day in the dark, in Kozan, camping half-way up a steep hill on the ruins of what were were told was an old Armenian monastery. We lit a campfire and passed a bottle. There was a palpable sense of relief in having nearly arrived safe and sound.

Early the next morning I was the first to rise; I primed my carburetor then coasted down the steep hill to compression start -- sparing myself who knows how long kick-starting -- u-turned then roared back up the hill past the camp, I'm sure waking everyone up, and climbed the dirt road to the ruined castle atop the hill. I don't know if this was a Crusader castle, or Seljuk or Byzantine. Not a tourist site -- I had it all to myself. There is a ruined castle atop almost every strategic hill in Turkey. This one was unusual because it was two peaks with a castle on each one, like two horns.

We got on our way for the final short leg to Ceyhan. We were met at one village with bouquets of flowers:

In the home stretch:

We were met with fireworks and an assembled throng of dignitaries:

The flame:

That night at a celebratory dinner, we all ended up in the pool:

Final destination with the Mediterranean in the background:

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Old 03-05-2010, 10:33 AM   #43
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Location: Galatzi,Ro
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Lovely RR...It seems to me that the more I read about the ex-sovietic countries the more I love it.You are some lucky bunch!
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Old 03-09-2010, 03:24 AM   #44
Doesn't wave back.
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Excellent !


And even more excellent!

One of my all time favourite Ride Reports.


I'd only waste my money if I didn`t spend it on all my bikes......
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:43 PM   #45
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Thanks very much for your comments throughout, Tarka, I appreciate them. You might be interested to know that the idea of a ten-year anniversary ride has been floated, although still in early planning and brainstorming phase. This would be along the planned new Nabucco pipeline route from Baku to Vienna with a 'green' theme, using bikes powered by natural gas -- or with hybrid electrical-internal combustion engines; not yet clear whether this is feasible.

[quote=Tarka]Excellent !


And even more excellent!

One of my all time favourite Ride Reports.
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