August 30, 2011

It started out so well.

Another perfect day, typical Turkish breakfast, bike loaded and on the road before 9am. I was planning for a big day today. On roads that did not even feature on my GPS. Local inquiries had led me to believe it would be ok on a motorbike, about 30km of dirt road.

Even though the 30 km estimate turned out to be 30 miles (almost 50km) I didn’t mind. The views were worth it as the gravel road peaked at just over 2,500m. Some local young riders even asked me to stop so they could be photographed next to my bike.

The northern side was lush in stark contrast to the southern side of the range which was drier.

My first break for the day was in Bayburt a mere 77 miles from Uzungöl, yet it took about two and a half hours to get there.

Just a short stop for a coffee and a chat with some locals. Just about everyone asks where I’m from. I managed to communicate some brief details of my trip in German (of all languages) with one of them who was fluent. They even paid for my coffee.

My next target was Bingöl via Erzurum, most of it in excess of 1,500m elevation. Scenery was superb and the roadworks almost taunted me to come back and ride through this country again when they are complete.

Good roads were often interrupted by roadworks and gravel roads. About 15 miles out of Karliova a noticed a red warning light flashing on the display. It was a loss of rear tyre pressure. I had a puncture about as close to the middle of nowhere as you could get.

I calmly stopped the bike on a firm, level surface, dismounted and put it on the centre stand. It didn’t take long to find the puncture. Must have been a sharp rock as nothing remained in the wheel.

Fortunately I had prepared for such an occurrence and had a repair kit and pump with me.

I had never done this before but followed the instructions and inserted the plug into the hole with the tool provided and finished by trimming the excess protruding from the hole.

Next the pump was attached to an outlet I had installed, attached directly to the Family Truckster’s battery, and the tyre was inflated.

The tyre pressure was a little low but good enough to get me to the petrol station in Karliova. After refuelling, I searched for the air hose but they did not have one.

So out with my pump again. By this time I had attracted quite a crowd who were keen to ask all sorts of questions about my bike and me. The most commonly asked question about the bike is what did it cost. They even made me a cup of tea while the pump did its stuff. It’s not super quick but it certainly does the job.

Time to get going again so I shook hands with all the onlookers and they wished me well for the remainder of my Turkey motorcycle tour.

I’d lost about an hour all up with the puncture. But this was much less time than it would have been if not for the repair kit and pump. This stuff was not cheap but proved to be a good investment.

I hope I can make it to Diyarbakir before dark.