|07-28-2014, 04:48 AM||#1|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
Leeds to Turkey - Knowledge and Naivety
It's going to be brilliant!......... or messy, not sure which. I'm sure there will be elements of brilliance with lessons learned and experience gained and a whole piece of family bonding.
A bit of background will I hope set the scene, followed by a bit more detail on bikes, equipment and plans (not necessarily in that order). Photo's will follow, once I get my act together.
Me.... Bob - Finished working last October for a national institution after 30 years service and having had a great time. I was lucky enough to lead the motorcycle team responsible for escorting the Tour of Britain Cycle Race for the last 10 years and for the road racing on the Olympics and many other national races. It's been great fun and I've been lucky enough to work on the recent Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the UK. The last bit was a real privilege, but very demanding!! I'm ready for a bit of R&R before my next project........
I've been motorcycling for a lot of years for pleasure and in a professional capacity at work. I've done a European trip most years over that last 10 years on various bikes mainly with Mrs Bob on the back.
William - 1 of my 4 children (adults) Just finished a Physics Masters Degree and going on to a 4 year PHD (very proud me!) and has been riding a bike since June this year!
The main reason behind the trip was Williams desire to pass his test back in 2012 at age 21 before the test requirements changed. With Uni and student life being a factor, we discussed what to do about a bike. It was at this point that the idea of a 'dad and lad' road trip started and a look a map identified Istanbul as the furthest we could go without to many complications.
Being a bit devious this gave me the opportunity to ride with Will for a month or so and pass on some of my thoughts from my previous training! That will go one of two ways
Trips start from home with as little major road riding as possible! So leaving Leeds we're going to cut down the middle. I know time limits peoples trips, but I don't like making distance on motorways etc. I find it unpleasant and boring.
Leeds to Barnsley on the M1, then head off towards Chatsworth, Matlock Bath, Ashbourne, Fosse Way to Morton in Marsh, Swindon, Salisbury and down to Poole for the ferry on Sunday morning. (3.8.14).
Then it is definitely D roads all the way (nearly) Cherbourg down to St Lo, then onto a great road I've travelled before, D28 to Tessay sur Vire, and continue to Vire before heading to Domfort, Mayenne, Sable sur Sathe, La Flθche and onwards to the region just outside Clermont Ferrand an area of dormant volcanos. You can actually ride up the biggest on a toll road.
It's then down to the Gorge du Tarn for a canoeing trip, Verdon Gorge, north on the Route de Grande Alpes before cutting right to the Stelvio down to the Dolomites, down to the Balkan Coast to Greece and then into Turkey.
As you can see, we have a pretty good idea of route early on and then it's a bit of join the dots, miss them out if it pleases us or add more in as and when it fits?
We intend to take about 4 weeks, but have the option to extend by another 2 if we want to, before Uni and work kick in.
Me.... BMW GS ADVLC. I've done a couple of thousand trouble free miles so far after selling my Multistrada, which I loved but sold as I fancied a less full on switch in my head.
No matter how hard I tried, I had to ride it full on, which is fine for some of the time, but I do also like touring lazily(ish).
The Beemer is pretty much standard with all the switches etc and tin boxes.
William.... Triumph Tiger 1050. In beautiful condition with low miles. This is Williams first bike, which may seem a little excessive, but a number of things must be considered.
He wanted it, he rides well and with a mature head and importantly, he wanted it!
On a practical basis we did look at 800's and other bikes, but cost, ability, Williams size, enjoyment factor etc... all pointed towards the Tiger.
We've done a little prep work, but only in the form of some USB powered sockets for charging gadgets, LED driving lights as the standard 09 Tiger lights aren't bright and a Satnav.
Other than that an oil change and tyres is pretty much it.
We intend camping all the way, bearing in mind I have booked a Premier Inn for the night before the ferry.
We are setting off this Saturday, so a fair bit of sorting to do between now and then to make sure we have everything. I've read all the reports about less is more, but I am from the school of 'we may need one of these', so we'll see how packing goes!
If you anyone has any suggestions of great places not to miss along or near to our route, I'd very much appreciate your input. It's easy to ride right past something without even knowing it's there.
|07-30-2014, 11:33 AM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Congrats on finishing your 30!
I'll be following your trip with interest as its one I'd like to do in the near future!
"Before you criticise a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way when you do, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes"
|07-31-2014, 07:30 AM||#5|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
We've been trying to make sense of packing today, with an ever expanding list of stuff to take.
There are the basics in camping gear. William has got a fairly good 2. Man tent which is just the right size for all 6'3" of him, a Thermarest half mat and sleeping bag. I personally prefer an ensuite, duvet and breakfast, but particularly a proper bed. However I've made best use of eBay for my tent with an almost new Hilleberg Nallo GT after easing reviews by fellow travellers, a Therarest All Season XL mattress and Thermarest Vela Down blanket. I don't like being 'trapped' in a sleeping bag, so hopefully this will be just the job. I've also bought a Nemo Fillow to rest my head on, so I'll give an opinion on how well it all works as we go along.
As you can probably see from the pictures below, one of the GS's boxes is full with camping kit, but still got another and a top box to go at yet.
You will also notice the fully tailored pannier bags which have served well for the last 6 years. Just stops the inevitable aluminium rub in the boxes.
Bit of a library pic of my bike, but will get some real ones on when I get it out past Mrs Bobs Monster.
Tiger looking ready.
Thin worms was better than thick worms in the dried food testing! Thick worms was crap!
|08-02-2014, 03:40 PM||#6|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
First day, 264 miles and we're in Southampton. A bit of a day of two halves really, with a wet half and a dry sunny one. We tried to set off this morning at 10, but my Beemer refused to start.....OK, I'm sure there are lots of tales of doom out there, but it turned out to be a flat battery?!?! Hmmmm?
After a short wait for a charge, a coffee and a bacon butty, it fired up and sorted itself out. Since then it's been AOK. Fingers crossed the battery is sorted and it was just an odd thing. The only worry is why it was flat? We'll see is suppose.
Any way the ride. I love the middle route down the UK, with highlights like Stines Moor, Matlock Bath where good Fish andChips were downed, Ashbourne, Fosse Way, Stow on the Wold and through leafy lanes to Southampton and one of Travelodges best. Not!
We have as mentioned been wet through and then warm and dry, but chuff did it rain along the Fosse Way, with large drops and lots of standing water, not pleasant, but put right with beautiful English countryside and blue skies. Despite making our way to Turkey, you really cant beat the UK when the weather is right.
A couple of beers tonight, a kebab (training for Turkey) and some Zzzz's before a 6am alarm, 30+ miles and an 8.30 ferry from Poole.
Fish and Norpers
|08-06-2014, 03:39 AM||#7|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
Sunday - Day 2
6am start! A beautiful clear, sunny morning and as we left Southampton, the sun was directly behind, which made our passage of the A31 through the New Forest. We could see loads of ponies enjoying the morning sun, but there is definitely something about the light first thing on a sunny day. Checking in for the ferry we got a quick search in customs still wearing full biking gear with armour inserts?!?!
The crossing was smooth with quite a full boat, but we managed to get a couple of tables in the cafe where people watching was order of the day. The world is worryingly full of strange people! Why isn't everyone normal like me?
I felt just a tad rough this morning from the kebab last night, which I knew was a mistake before eating it, but those who know me will understand my inability to refuse a Donna when I've had a sniff of beer. None of this was helped by the incredible heat in the cafe area. Have ferries never heard of aircon..... Well yes they have. After 3 hours of intense heat, we wandered through to the bar which was cool as a cool thing. Brilliant.
I've done the trip down from Cherbourg to Clermont Ferrand area a few times, but it's Williams first foreign bike trip and being one of the best routes I know, it was worth the effort. We ran down the dual carriageway to just outside St Lo and then head of onto the route for Vire, and Tinchebray, then continual great weather as far as Mayenne. I've no wifi at the moment, so can't look at maps in the dark in a forest campsite. N174 down as far as St Lo, then then D28, D21and D52 for a racking run down. D22 followed by the D962 into Mayenne.
We stayed at the Municipal campsite in Mayenne which was very good. Clean, quiet and good hot showers, providing you don't mind leaving everything outside due to the cubical minuscule size. After awash and scrub we decided on a walk into town to get a beer and something to eat.
I was glad of the walk. Only a mile or so, but enough to loosen stiff joints after sitting on a bike for a few hours. Mayenne on a Sunday evening, can I tell you is not a hotbed of anything. All the bars and restaurants were firmly closed and it's only 7pm. The towns people obviously lick kebab and pizza as there were 3 doing a good trade, in fact when we later tried to order a takeaway we were told an hours wait.
Eventually we heard a bit of a commotion coming from an apparently very closed bar, but found a bit of a 'lock in' where the three town drunks were enjoying something. We managed to squeeze in past them and got a couple of large beers, which were just the ticket. It was at this point the bar was closing properly, but convinced the landlord to pull 6 before he left for us to drink in the street. Probably a name for that and some type of therapy needed?
The three drunks then became interested and joined us for an in-depth conversation into Babybell Cheese. Drunk 1 & 2 worked in the Babybell factory, with the drunker one indicating that the cheese came from down his pants. No 3 was a postman, but we never sussed out what he delivered. To be fair they were great fun and much laughing followed about something. Us probably. Getting them to pose for a photo was difficult, but as you can see it was worth it.
A pretty good pizza followed at the place with a reasonable waiting time before a wander back to the campsite and bed about 10.30. It's then that things got a bit scary. I'm not normally worried by the dark or odd noises, but there is a limit as to how odd I can cope with. Somewhere just by my tent something about the size and ferocity of a grizzly was sniffing for it's next meal. Not wanting to make it angry, I sent William out to see what it was, armed with an led torch should it cut rough. This was not a laughing matter as something clearly big enough to eat me is nearby, but William is just tittering in the bushes. Two noisy fecking hedgehogs were having a shag. Even I don't make that much noise!
Monday Day 3
A quick trip to Super U in the morning provided apple filled croissants, strawberry milkshakes and lollipops for breakfast. Packing and farting about saw us on the road for 10 and heading towards our planned route and a finish if we could manage it near Le Dome du Puy a dormant volcano near Clermont Ferrand. This area is stunning with lots of volcanic cones. To. Be fair this was probably going to be a bit of a stretch today. The weather is getting warmer with a high of 27c, beautiful roads and virtually no traffic. We spent a few miles along the banks of the Loire, which looked very blue and inviting.
I bit on the bikes. Well despite the flat battery in the first morning, mine is starting strongly now, so must have just been lack of use? Not convinced, but we'll see how it goes. The new GS Adventure is a great bike. Smooth, powerful and a joy the fling around twisties. William is getting into his stride now with endless bends to practice on and his Tiger running well. We've made a number of packing adjustments to fine tune how if all works and sits, which has seen us with more useable space.
A few bits and pieces to report on.
Williams bike is a good choice. The tiger is a comfy cruiser with bags of power and it loves bends. The Bridgestone 023's we put on are wearing well.
We fitted some additional LED lights bought on eBay from China or Hong Kong, which are excellent. He has two very purposeful running lights which makes no mistake he is there.
My camping gear is turning out very good. The Hilleberg Nallo GT tent is very good. Puts up in a couple of minutes and is easy to live in. My Thermarest Vela down blankets is really warm and gives me freedom to move about. I hate the confinement of a sleeping bag! The Thermarest Neoair All Seasons inflatable mat is also a great buy. It is comfy and warm too. I'm surprised how insulating it is given it is thing material and air. I would also recommend my Nemo Fillo pillow for a good nights sleep.
Tuesday - Day 4
Today's ride has been a stunner...... A lovely run down to Le Puy de Dome, a large extinct volcano, which the last time (about 6 years ago) you could drive up in a spiral, now has a rack and pinion railway to replace the large volume of traffic.still only 11 euros each though. At the top the views are huge with great photo opportunities. You also get very close to the hang gliders of which there are a lot. Probably about twenty at a time circling in and out of each other.
Travelling from there we took the A75 South to junction 21 where I made a late call andWilliam had to stay on and return from the next junction down.i did manage to call out before he went past the junction on out intercom. My fault for a very late call.
After that the route down to Mende is one of my all find favourites. The scenery and roads are stunning with predictable sweeping bends and a great surface. Tonight sees us in a small campsite in the village of Granoullic and a BBQ for tea with drumsticks, burgers and sausages complemented by 1664 and a game of boules to watch. Only snag was the shit barbies we bought which struggled to get warm enough to cook on. We did eventually manage the sausages and burgers, but that was it.
I've got challenges in the bowel area so nothing can probably make things worse. Imodium tomorrow me thinks?!?
Wednesday - Day 5
Another lovely sunny day and only a short run into the Gorge du Tarn where we are going to make camp for two nights to give time to relax and canoe down the gorge tomorrow.
The roads today are a continuance of yesterday afternoons lovely roads in the Mende area. Long sweeping bends, great sight lines and lovely views, coupled with the sun.
Apologies, will have to load photos later. McD's seem to restrict photo uploading. Either that or it's so slow....
digital4169 screwed with this post 08-06-2014 at 05:22 AM
|08-06-2014, 08:12 AM||#8|
Joined: Jul 2012
Great report! Great to see a father and son sharing an adventure. I've been through Clermont Ferrand twice and didn't know it was possible to get up the volcano! Going to have to do that next trip. And the Tarn gorge is beautiful, too. Looking forward to your canoeing segment!
Revel in your time!
|08-06-2014, 11:05 AM||#9|
Joined: Aug 2014
Love your blogs mr B.
William looks like he's really enjoying it.
Does babybell cheese really come from that drunks pants? How does he get the red wax on it?
|08-06-2014, 11:48 AM||#10|
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Yorkshire, England
Great start. I'm in. A similar trip to what I'd like to do......I'll join you after 30 next April !
Safe riding and enjoy the time/experience
|08-06-2014, 05:28 PM||#12|
Joined: Mar 2013
|08-10-2014, 11:52 AM||#13|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
Apologies for the delays, but wifi is a challenge!
The main difficulty is finding disposable barbecues. From previous trips you could get them in any supermarket, but this time they are like hens teeth. So tonight we improvised. A load of rocks, a bag of charcoal, a grill and food. I even forgot the lighter fluid, so we improvised that with a small campfire to get things going. The best BBQ for a long time. Adjustment of cook speed was more of less rocks. How good is that?
A local French band are playing in the village car park tonight. Djaminawak they were very good, helped along with 4 pints of the local beer. And a warm evening.
Thursday - Day 6
Today is canoe day! At the canoe hire office for 9.30 and a bus ride towing a trailer full of canoes 15 km up the gorge. We then spent the next 6 or so hours gently paddling down the Gorge du Tarn for a full 20 km. if you are ever this way it is a stunningly beautiful way to spend the day. We paid 26 each for a full day including the ride to the start and from the finish.
The gorge is a mixture of gentle flat water to full on white water. Well almost. There are lots of fast bits though. About halfway down the gorge is a weir which is about 10' tall and we had been warned not to try to canoe down. So in the spirit of adventure over we went. William first ( I can afford to lose at least one child, but there is only one of me). He disappeared over the top and as I approached he was sat smiling on the other side.
"Which is the best spot?" I asked, and in true helpful fashion I was directed, deliberately to a very dangerous and impossible spot. It must have been, because my canoe tipped over the edge and then did a U turn midway and barrel rolled me into the swirling water. Fortunately William is videoing it all and got much pleasure out of seeing dad drowning.
Both of us feel very tired after the day and are ready for food. The Pizzeria in Malene is excellent, with dinner eaten outside under a huge grape vine. A bottle of the local Rose and a lemon sorbet and vodka pud to finish with. Niiiicce
Friday - Day 6
Today we are heading across Southern France TTRO the Verdon Gorge via the Ardeche Gorge. The first part of the ride is stunning with lots of hairpins, huge drops and staggering views, pretty much all the.
Way to the Ardeche. Once at the gorge we took time to see the huge natural arch across the gorge which is awe inspiring, except for the sheer number of people at all viewing points, in boats, swimming etc.. A bit like Blackpool on its sunny day.
After that the route across it had chosen was to both make up time, but also keep off motorways. A bit of a mistake really as we had heavy traffic most of the way. We did break things up in the 35c temperature by visiting various supermarkets in search of a decent disposable BBQ.
As I've said before it seems France has stopped selling them, all except the very rare ones with crap briquettes in that won't stay lit.
So a bit of cunning and I bought two and a bag of charcoal. By the time if was all strapped to the GS I was getting amazed stares that it could be ridden.
But never say never and the bike still rode well. So all sorted. We have meat of various types, breadbuns, ketchup, Leffe Ruby and Kronenberg, lighter fluid.....everything.
We eventually stopped for the evening on a small family campsite near the village of Valcoles, which is in the heart of lavender growing country. It stinks really strongly of the stuff all around. But nice site despite it.
We got everything up and sorted and showered. Right ready to BBQ...........WRONG!!!! with a Capitol WRONG!
No Barbys allowed....shit?!?!?!
So on the bikes in shorts and T shirts and off down the road a short way before cooking started on the side of a small road. Ahhhhhh that's better.
|08-10-2014, 12:08 PM||#14|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
Saturday - Day 8
We did the honourable thing and picked up all our mess from the BBQ the night before now if had cooled and popped if in a bin.
Out trip across Italy was now to begin. We had made a decision to run across Northern Italy on Auto Strade to get some miles in for a couple of days and visit Italy high points on the return journey. Time and miles etc....
The beginning of the day was a ride on one of my favourite roads up the south side of the Verdon Gorge. If you be never been then go. It is amazing how deep and narrow a gorge can be and the road is a bikers heaven. However be careful of the local bikers because they know the roads well and ride them fast and on the limit.
William had promised to bungee jump from the bridge over the gorge, but he bottled at the price. 100.
The remained of the ride after some great roads for 40 miles or so was the Auto Strade and a constant 130kph.
We arrived in an area near Bobbio, Italy and at first struggled to find any campsites in the mountains. I jokingly said we could do with a traditional Pizzeria with a campsite attached.
At 7pm we came across just that. The best pizza I've EVER had!!!!
All watched by a local pal...well only while I had food!
The staff were great, the ruby beer cold and the locals friendly. All apart from the tattoo'd weirdo with two wolves as pets. What a cock! Probably a bit unfair, but there was no way he was friendly when you got to know him! Neither. Were his dogs.
All fed and beered and we went to our tents. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
digital4169 screwed with this post 08-10-2014 at 12:21 PM
|08-13-2014, 12:29 PM||#15|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: West Yorkshire
Sunday - Day 9
The intention today was always to crack on across Itall and visit it on the way back. Unbelieveably time is starting to be against us if we are going together to Istanbul and back I a month. Looks like 5 weeks now.
We cracked on the Autostrade managing to cope with the 35c heat and a constant 80mph. Never thought idsay it, but cruise control on a bike is pretty good!
When we. Arrived near the Slovenian border we found our selves over without realising and at a campsite that should have an award for 'packing them in!'
It was noisy, smelly, which may have had something to do with being near the porta loo disposal point, dog loo and bins. But we had lots of other tents to keep us company.. I did sleep well though.
A highlight (in my mind at least) were the very cold showers.
Monday - day 10
Up at 7 and on the road for 8.30, saw us pass through Slovenia on beautiful roads, with traditional farming views all the way. Gorgeous!
As we approached the Croatian border there was a queue about 3-4 miles long. We started the traditional British filtering and found we very quickly had a convoy. Straight to the front, a quick passport check and Croatia it is! I know you can fly straight in, but it felt like quite an adventure. Last time I was here was in1993 delivering supplies to refugees. I'm sure they will all remember Postman Pat spaghetti!
Out trip now is to the Plitvice National park and the beautiful lakes and waterfalls. The roads all the way were built for bikes. Smooth surfaces, sweeping bends, no police and signs warning of wild bears.........ooooer missus!
The roads were also quiet, but as soon as we reached the lakes, bloody hell, the whole of Europe had turned out for the day.
After paying £20 each to look at the lakes, we border a converted Unimog and passenger trailers for the 'Walt Disney esque' trip to the first path to the lakes. Lots of people, but absolutely staggeringly beautiful! GO IF YOU ARE IN THE AREA!!!!!
Lots of waterfalls, crystals clear waters with thousands of fish and crystal blue lakes. This Walsall finished off with a boat trip across the lake, all in the £20. Not too bad.
After leaving the park we rode a short way to Bear Camp. Cheesy name and shitty bogs, but a place to live with the ants, so not all lost.
Speaking of biting insects, William still hasn't learnt to keep which inner tent closed. Doh! Bitten to death.
Tuesday - Day 11
Riding out of the park on more excellent roads we are heading for the island of Hvar off the coast of Split.
I've heard the Croatian Coast was beautiful, but never imagined just how stunning it could be..
The roads just get better and almost no traffic. Whilst descending to the coast we stopped to take photo's of each other riding past, at which point I had my first disaster. I dropped my helmet of the bike, big chip out of the gel coat, which I don't think has damaged the structure, but my Sena SMH10 Bluetooth bike to bike comms is a goner. Bollocks! It has been great talking to each other, with a range of about 500m in almost all conditions. Will try to buy a replacement ASAP. £200 for one though!
We pulled into Split to get tickets for the ferry. £50 later and we had a 3 hour wait. Well in simple terms it was like a badly organised cattle market, to such an extent we got a refund and thought feck it.
Pushing on in the hope of finding a campsite it got to 8pm the light was fading, so I plumbed a campsite into Garmin which was shown as 12km away. 47km later along difficult roads in the dark we entered Blackpool by the Croatian Coast called Omis.
Campsite full, so a quick look on Booking.com and a room at the Ragac Apartments was found, with clean beds and a nice (cold) shower. We took the opportunity to wash all our clothes in the sink and get stuff sorted. It's amazing how mingy everything gets after 10 days!
Wednesday - day 12
Breakfast included, a warm sunny start and all the clothes washed last night ........ Blown all over the street! Still all dry and still remarkably clean. So a swift bit of collection and all sorted.
The ride today will be south to Mostar as I want to see the old bridge rebuilt after the war.
More stunning mountain roads and views,
but now in silence since my accident with. My Sena headset. I've contacted Sena by email to find a distributor on our route. All I can say is they give first class attention to emails, with quite chatty responses. They are working on our route and will get back to me. I like good customer service. No questions no messing, just helpful. Well done Sena.
As we approached the border with Bosnia a long queue had formed. Usual form and we filtered past. At the border post the rather glum guard wanted outer green card which we didn't have.. Easy peasy. To either restaurant on the border and insurance sorted. One on the right is 15 one on the right 10 for seven days. Done!
Back to the border guard who read every word and without a smile let us through.
Bosnia looks run down. The main difference immediately after the border was the state of the roads. All worn, shiny and very slippery. Their efforts at 'shell grip' is to grind the top off the tarmac, which is interesting when setting a bend up to find that the grinderman has obviously decided to grind towards a hedge and where he wanted a piss.
Bosnia as said is run down in general, with very obvious signs of war. Lots of building are bullet hole ridden and there are signs of national pride I flags and slogans, even Croatian names painted out.
We got into Mostar and straight to McD's for lunch and to find out where the old bridge is. There are very few signs or directions. Fed and all sorted and we found our way to a massively overcrowded and commercialised area of beautiful old buildings and the centre piece the rebuilt bridge.
It is stunning and worth working your way through the crowds! Especially given it's recent history.
I know others have done real hard core adventuring, but I feel like this is one step beyond.
Leaving Mostar we headed south for Dubrovnik and the intention of finding an early campsite to rest a little. I am knackered! I think William is too, with the heat (38.5c today) taking its toll in full biking gear.
More mountain roads and lots of undeveloped and abandoned land and buildings through Bosnia, until a change as we go back into Croatia. This is the southern part, which see's good quality roads and a definate feel of more money.
The view of Dubrovnik of great as we pass on the road high above, with cruise ships in the harbour.
Tonight we are at a small campsite just north of Dubrovnik on the coastal road. The site is small, quiet and with good facilities. The sea is blue, warm and 10' from the tent. Ahhhhhhhh! Wash the day away and cool.
I'm sag typing this in the Konoba Dandy restaurant in the bathing is very good and came recommended.
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