30th July 2017
We're back on the road again, and we're now in Asia!
We spent 4 days in Istanbul sorting out a few bike issues we had picked up. We headed straight to Atamoto to meet Ahmet who managed to replace Dave's clutch and provide the Suzi with a new set of tires all in one afternoon!
Whilst this happened I changed my oil and asked one of the mechanics to check out my rear-suspension which had felt a little dodgy. It was bad news - my rear shocks seal had burst. Essentially my suspension was just a spring - meaning i was bouncing around a lot.
Initially it looked like I would need a new one (£300-400 and at least a 10 day delay!). But after speaking to my brother Archie L he pointed me towards Adil who had helped him out on a motorbike trip 4 years previously. Adil is a man who sees any bike problem as a challenge, a repair was possible (indeed, in Istanbul anything is possible he tells me). He took me to see Sedgur (the same mechanic who helped my brother) and before the end of the day my bike was in perfect working condition. Huge thanks to Adil, Sedgur and Ahmet for top quality service in such quick time!
We're now in Cappadocia in central turkey. This area is characterised by its large red, white and brown valleys which have been eroded into beautiful and surreal shapes. The valley sides are speckled with caves from a centuries old civilisation who burrowed into the soft rock. Last night we found ourselves one of these caves to camp in - going to be hard camping spot to beat in terms of uniqueness.
We also completely coincidentally bumped into one of Dave's friends Mark Francis who was out here on holiday, so grabbed a few beers. (any opportunity to socialise with other people!)
We're now heading East towards Georgia (pretty much east from here on out tbh) with a lot of camping to do on the way.
2nd August 2017
The last week going through Turkey has been absolutely amazing. After spending a lot of time riding on straight and busy roads we finally stumbled into some amazing adventures in the country's North East.
We're currently on a run of 6 nights camping in a row. It saves us a lot of money, plus we've become very efficient at it, and Turkey has boundless camping opportunities. Whilst picking up food in one town, we noticed a street party taking place - we were walking past slowly seeing what the occasion was when before we knew it we had been dragged into the middle of it and placed down at a table. Soup, rice, chicken, watermelon and chocolate was thrust in front of us by locals who barely spoke a word of English but just wanted to show us a good time! It was a local boys party who had just been accepted into the army. There was dancing (which sadly we were too busy eating to join in on before it ended) and a traditional war ritual taking place which was very interesting to see. Essentially it involved faking a punch, ducking, and actually punching each other - we sat that one out.
The next day we rode onto the Dark Canyon, a place recommended to us as a must see. As we stopped for a quick loo break a farmer shouted at us. We thought we were in trouble, but in fact, he just wanted to sit us down so we could try his homegrown cucumbers. They're one of the few vegs I really don't like so I tried to distract him to throw it away by asking if his apples were ripe - they weren't but he gave us about an armful of them anyway.
The Dark Canyon was an amazing place - and reminded us of the Himalayan valleys we had been through on a previous trip. At first, the road cuts into the canyon cliff but it ends up turning into a tunnel that follows it all the way up, with cave like openings acting as windows onto the epic scenery.
Looking down over the edge of the roads gave you a sight of the fast-moving river 50m below. This drop however, would pale in comparison to the D915 road we took from Bayburt to the black sea coast - recently dubbed the world's most dangerous road. At its highest point, we were treated to an amazing view above the clouds, with surrounding mountain-tops poking through.
We had hoped arriving at the Black Sea would signal nice beaches where we could relax and have a beer after some tough terrain. But the coast had no beaches, and this part of Turkey, being very Muslim, meant there was no beer to be found. So we spontaneously decided to nip across the border into Georgia and try our luck there. Found ourselves a decent campsite on the beach with other people. Only 75p each a night and 50p a beer!
Turkey turned out to be a sensational country. We felt so lucky to be able to travel through the North East especially where the scenery, roads and remoteness made for such an amazing week of riding. However, it's the people who really make Turkey a special place, they have been endlessly hospitable and generous to us. It's a shame that politics here have recently taken such a turn for the worse. There is some obvious tension, but despite the higher than average police/army presence, we never once felt threatened or unsafe.