9 September, 2011

I hate it when something unexpected comes up. Sometimes I can take it in my stride, almost like I was expecting it. Other times unexpected events, particularly those that don’t go my way, can take me to a dark place. Once there it can take hours to days to re-emerge from that downward spiral of negative thoughts. All totally irrational. But some things just get to me. Make me want to pick up my bat and ball or Family Truckster and go home.

I’m sure most of us have physical features or personality traits we don’t like. Or perhaps some we wouldn’t choose if given a choice. I have many. But also many that are good. Most days the good outweighs the bad.

It was over 300 miles today. I was aiming for Datca. MapSource said this would be a 12.5 hr run from Antalya. Not possible absent roads I wouldn’t want to take the Family Truckster on. Even at 30 mph it would only be 10 hours in the saddle. I backed in the roads and the average speeds to be much better than MapSource was predicting.

They were.

My usual plan on the road is a 2 hour stint straight up and then stop each hour of riding thereafter. Finding places to stop can be a problem or maybe this is just an excuse not to stop. Either way, my only proper stop other than for fuel and one other unplanned stop (more on this later) was at Patara.

Although hot, my break at Patara was all I needed for another long stint. I kept on past Fethiye (I was thinking of making a short detour to Oludeiz but the road was closed) and then to the turn off to Marmaris.

Here I found Turkey’s motorcycle heaven. Although only about 10-15 miles of the road was finished (another section about the same length was still under construction) this was the equal of any road I’ve ridden on in western Europe. Finally I could get into a rhythm and the Truckster responded accordingly, taking me around flowing bends on the smoothest ribbon of dual carriageway I seen in a few thousand miles. And the views were worthy of such a pure road. The traffic was light so I used both the lanes at my disposal as I glided around left and right bends. Pure joy.

Marmaris seemed like a nice place and a gateway to Rhodes (Greece) but my destination was a little further west, only about 40 miles to go now.

About 30 miles out a motorist travelling the other direction flashed their lights. Radar ahead. I slow accordingly (I thought I was doing about 80 kph) although there are no speed limit signs to be found. Within a minute I am being flagged over by the Polis. I cannot believe this.

I’ve had enough. Now I feel like I’m being targeted. Let’s not worry about all the other infringements (eg no helmets, not keeping right, not indicating etc etc etc), lets go for the guy on the big moto and foreign plates.

This may surprise some of you but I can be a little argumentative at times. This time I did not hold back. Part of my frustration comes from my language deficiencies and my total inability to comprehend the speed limits absent any signage of same.

Initially they tell me the speed limit is 70 km/h. I ask for proof so one guy pulls out a book and then tells me its 80 km/h. Apparently I was going 93 km/h. If they can show me the sign the showing me the speed limit I will happily accept the fine.

They won’t, so I don’t accept the ticket. So they call the Gendarmerie.

They rock up and I still don’t speak Turkish and none of them speak English. I think they don’t really understand why they have been called, none of them look older than 20. Perhaps they were expecting a homicidal axe-wielding maniac but I hadn’t quite made it to that stage, yet.

So they start flagging down passing motorists, tour buses etc to find someone who can speak English. Eventually a guy on a scooter rocks up and I explain to him the situation and that I would also like them to take me to the police station so I can pay the fine and get on my way.

Seems I cannot pay the fine at a bank. I tried. But they would not accept it because I didn’t have a Turkish identity number which is needed to process the payment. Maybe I can pay at the post office or a Police Station or at the border. The thing is there is a generous discount for paying early, about 25% I think so I want to do this, not wait until I get to the border.

They will not accompany to the Police Station and I have no idea where it is so eventually I shake all their hands, give them my impression of an intellectual mouthful, in English so they are none the wiser, and off I go. Fuming. Still not knowing what the speed limits are.

So tentative on the roads now. So disappointed that my magic minutes on the hyper road to Marmaris have been destroyed by super officious jobworths targeting easy money, not real risks. But not their fault. They are just following orders I guess.

All this took about an hour I guess. I hate the way I seem to want to push people to their limits. To their breaking point. Seems like its the only thing I have a natural flair for. But terribly counter-productive. I hate it but seem I cannot help myself in the right circumstances.

I dug myself into a dark hole for the rest of the day, probably more over my petulant behavour than anything else but it is frustrating. Hope I emerge from it soon. Turkey is a wonderful country. No need to let something as trivial as a road tax levied unexpectedly spoil my Turkey motorcycle tour experience.