The Abominable Mudman meets the Carpet Salesman...
Flog rugs to foreign punters
You know all the stuff about the 'long winding road'
leading to the goal etc; well I've arrived! I want to become a carpet
salesman here in Istanbul! Yes it's true...I'm going to stay to
flog rugs to foreign punters. Nothing like pulling the rug over
their eyes or even out of their flies, or whatever! It feels so
good to be sending this report from Istanbul, especially when I
think that if I were still in England, the winter would be starting
to set in.
The ride down from my parent's house near Duesseldorf
via Bonn to pick up my passport (sans Sudanese visa) to Lyon was
as boring as it was uneventful. I got 650km out of the tank, which
is about 6 litres per 100km or 40 mpg in old money. This is what
it should be. 3 cheers for the new needles in the carburettors!
Lyon was excellent as usual. Steven, Elizabeth and
their friends were very laid back. I did have an adventure with
the right hand HT lead falling out of the ignition coil. Before
I checked properly, I had the carb apart because I thought it was
defective. The bike had started and was running (albeit on 1 cylinder).
So, Brighty, do you checks... fuel, spark, electrics etc before
you start to dismantle the bike for 2 1/2 hours on the side of the
Interpol are also hot on my tail
On Tuesday, I set off for Perugia in Italy. I had
some grief at a tollbooth where they wouldn't accept my credit card,
even though it was acceptable in the booth next-door. I got a thing
to pay at the post office. I may have forgotten to pay, so now Interpol
are also hot on my tail. A couple of days later I drove via Assisi
to Ancona for the ferry to Iguemenetsa in Greece.
Here's Brighty's next hot tip: never arrive early
for a ferry in Italy. I got there at noon for a 3.30pm boat which
ended up leaving at 5.30pm, with me being the last vehicle on. I
can't describe the pleasure derived from standing in the midday
sun breathing in diesel fumes for 5 hours. I won't mention the nice
bloke running around blowing his whistle rather loudly next to my
The roads in Greece are excellent for an enduro
bike. Windy tarmac, gravel, dirt and mud (more of that later!) The
first day I made it to Kalambaka, site of the Meteora Monasteries.
These were built on huge pinnacles of rock for protection from attackers.
I thought I had a problem with the bike, with the
rear bevel/ driveshaft making a slight clicking noise when you spin
the back wheel slowly. I asked several BMW mechanics en route to
and also in Istanbul of their opinion. All said not to worry, and
one chap in Thessaloniki said it was probably caused by the fact
the oil was hotter/ thinner through high outside temperatures and
lots of miles per day. Let's hope there is no problem as the shaft
has only done 6000 km from new.
I headed North and then East around Mt Olympus.
Some top biking roads. Here follows the next lesson for all you
Scenario: You're riding on tarmac, then
gravel, then dirt, when ahead in a dip next to a big tree you see
some mud and water. Do you
1. Stop, look and drive through slowly?
2. Ride round the side?
3. Leave your brain on the trans-Adriatic ferry and accelerate toward
You've guessed it! The answer is NOT 3! The reason
for this is: The front wheel slips and the bike and rider lands
in the mud. The right side of the bike is completely caked in brown
cement-like mud and the rider is doing his best to look like an
abominable mudman! His sense of humour may also be failing as there
is fuel running out everywhere and he can't pick up the bike without
removing the spare tyres strapped on the panniers.
Hermann the German
The following day I drove as far as I could up Mt
Olympus. The 8-hour hike to the summit was too much after the previous
day's exertions. There was too much cloud anyway! I did meet two
Germans (one of whom was called Hermann) who live in Greece riding
a 1940s 250 single and a 1950s 500 twin Beemers respectively.
My overall view of Greece was that the roads are
great for biking, the women fat and/ or ugly and everybody is German
or speaks German.
The border crossing into Turkey was quite hassle
free, but involved lots of bits of paper. I managed to get insurance
('sigorta' in Turkish) in the first big town. It was a real adventure
finding somebody who spoke English to help me. A pleasant woman
helped me out and I got a year's (they couldn't do 3 weeks) third
party insurance for US$10!
The drive into Istanbul was absolutely mad. Evening
rush hour with cars everywhere. At times it seemed like 99.9% of
the road surface was covered by a vehicle.
I've spent the last couple of days chilling, seeing the sights
and doing bike stuff, including meeting up with some very pleasant
Turkish bikers. Yesterday I drove to the Jordanian Consulate to
apply for a visa. Totally mind-blowing. In most Western cities there
is some sort of order to road travel, so a bike swerving in and
out of the traffic is quite unusual. Here everything, bus, car,
bike, cart, scooter, animal, beggar, pedestrian etc etc is jockeying
for space. Somehow everybody gets to where they are going without
too much agitation. All you have to do is assert yourself on the
road. Indecision spells disaster. When in Istanbul, do as the...
is a city of 15 million people and all are on the move all the time.
Most are gracious and friendly (even the carpet salesmen!) The food
is great, the Mosques a bit noisy at 5 am and fuel is the same price
as the UK. About a dollar a litre. I put 42 litres (for 655km) into
my 43 litre tank yesterday. Now I'm poor!