6 September 2011

Today’s mileage was not huge. About 218 miles (351 km) to be precise.  My journey west along the Turquoise Coast continued.  But today the tourist towns, high rise developments and sandy beaches were scarce.  So was the traffic for that matter.  But what there was of my fellow motorists today really got under my skin somewhat.  In particular the buses.

It’s not like the drivers were any worse that the rest of Turkey.  Or should I say not as good?  I don’t think my comment will offend any of my new Turkish friends – many of them I’m sure would agree.

I think it was the heat today.

My problem with the heat starts right from when I put my kit on.  It’s heavy all this stuff and not designed for walking around in, particularly when it is 35 degrees.  And this is usually the temperature when I load the bike. Luckily the loading procedure doesn’t take too long.  But long enough to work up a proper sweat.  I get some relief when on the highway but overheat again when stopped at traffic lights or searching for the hotel at the end of the day.

Today was the Mediterranian version of the tight twisty roads I encountered when following the Black Sea coast from Amasra to Sinop (the road surfaces were probably better though).  It took me 6 hours and 20 minutes riding time to cover the distance today at an avarage speed of 35 miles per hour (56kmh), mostly on roads with a 90 km speed limit.

Tim had briefed me thoroughly on this, suggesting I’d average 35kmh so I was happy with my progress. As with most roads in Turkey they are in the process of upgrading this road.  This is another great ride which will be something else when the roadworks are complete.

But back to the source of my annoyance.  I’m not sure why they paint lines on the roads in Turkey.  It makes no difference. Cars, trucks and buses will use whichever bit of road they like.  There is no respect for the vehicles which might be travelling in the opposite direction.  There have been many occasions that I have been confronted by a car or bus half way over on my side of the road when coming around a blind corner.

Most times they just move over and there are no dramas.  Today on a couple of occasions, buses in particular, did not move over.  One time I was forced to take evasive action while the bus maintained its incorrect line.  This was not great.  It’s not easy to change your line when cornering on a motorcycle.  There were also a couple of overtaking manoeuvres around blind corners where if not for me slowing almost to a stop the outcome would have been disastrous. No amount of flashing my lights or waving matters.  The driver just gestures back to me as though I was in the wrong!

Side (pronounced See-day) provided the usual labyrinth of one way and pedestrian only streets guaranteed to confuse anyone trying to follow a GPS.

Now as you all know I’m a big fan of any technology or gadgets that makes this Turkey motorcycle tour more efficient or enjoyable.  But once I hit these old cities the small paper maps within the pages of the Lonley Planet guidebook are a far better resource (except you need to memorise them before you leave or else stop in town and consult them).  The GPS still does provide a map of the streets as you ride, even showing your intended destination – it’s all but useless for directional assistance.

Another top tip is not to worry about pedestrian only zones and one way streets.  It is a must that these be utilised to get to your chosen destination.  No one cares.  There are plenty of other motorcycles doing the same thing. Pedestrians get out of the way – eventually.

But not dogs.  Not surprisingly, I did go the wrong way in Side and ended up in an Oto Park where I simply turned around and headed back out.  On the way a rather large dog started barking viciously and then chased me and even attempted to bite my leg!

My first choice hotel was fully booked but they kindly made a call and sent me off down the road to an equally impressive location that could put me up for the night.  The Kamer Motel was a worthy substitute indeed and the manager kindly found a spot for me to park the bike and even rang the BMW dealer to confirm my booking for the 20,000km service scheduled for Thursday.  Though quite a touristy spot there was a nice mix of history and relaxed party buzz about Side.  I may even stay another night.

I’m starting to get into the parts of Turkey where the Roman and Byzantine influence is more apparent in the remains of some extremely old buildings.


Distance travelled today 218 miles (351km), cumulative 6,124 miles (9,856km).