Category Archives: Bike

Like Birds

Like birds in September we are heading south.  The ride started cool and grey, and as we headed south it got progressively warmer and sunnier.  We got as far as Bar Sur Aube which all said is pretty good going.

As expected the Shuttle was hassle free and relatively expensive but it is so much faster than a ferry,   We met a few others on the road.  A load of guys on scooters heading to an event in ther Ardennes, and some Harley people off to an event in Normandy.

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Motorways in France are easy, and driving switches to the correct side of the road.  It really was odd being in the UK and being on the left – I’m no longer used to it.  Silly things like setting the mirrors before leaving Swindon and then realising I had a wider view of the curb than needed.

I’m not a fan of dayglow yellow.  Strictly speaking they do not need to be worn, they only must be worn by law if we get off the bike on a highway.  Reality is it’s easier to wear them and not worry about an official being officious.

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Tomorrow we head for the hills near Grenoble.

 

And So It Begins

Yesterday we picked up the bike, a blue Triumph Bonneville America. This was in Swindon, at Blade Triumph.  We really must say a special thanks to Steve who was excellent throughout the purchase and made sure everything needed for the trip to Greece was in place.  A +1 to Steve for excellent customer service.  We were given a good send off, some photos were taken, hopefully we will get copy in due course.

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The ride to London was not the greatest.  Come on England, it’s September not November, it was a chilly 15C at best and with fine drizzle.  It was the sort of drizzle that doesn’t make you wet but the continual forced evaporation adds greatly to the chill factor, so by the time we’d got to Dartford we were well chilled and not in the best sense of that word.

The bike handles really well.  It’s noticably lighter than the Softail so does get blown about a bit more.  It’s got quite long wheel base wise but this is fine.  I like the quick release wind shield, it does the job very well.  The ride position is low, I like that a lot.  The floorboards are fine, the controls all good, it feels and rides very good.  So yes, I’m happy.  It looks pretty good as well.

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We’ve been commuting into London by train, dealing with family matters.  Mostly stressful but now it is all done.  Dartford is good because hotels are inexpensive, the commute is easy and for tomorrow, it’s an easy road trip to Folkestone.  Everything else now done, including hi viz vests for France, a bit of retail therapy, and a bottle of very nice looking Bordeaux for when we get to St. Agnan en Vercors which will not be tomorrow. 

So in the morning we’ll grab a hotel breakfast, coffee and something light and then after packing the bike we hit the road.  Going to do the Shuttle because it is fast and convenient, so all going well we should be in Calais by 12.00 or so.  We shall see how far into France we get, south of Troyes is the plan – weather permitting and the weather looks good.

 

Road Trip

For those who may be interested pretty soon we are going to be starting a road trip.  We are going to blog about it most days, along with photographs, so there will be regular updates here and on facebook.

We will be picking up a Triumph Bonneville America in Swindon and riding it to Lesvos.  It’s going by way of London, we have a few things to attend to before hitting the road, but by 14th we should be well on our way.

There is of course a reason for this apart from the fun of it all.  We find ourselves living partly in Greece and partly in Turkey.  In Turkey there is a good public transport system, this is not the case on Lesvos, so it is in Greece that we need a vehicle.  The Harley is Turkish registered, trying to take it permanently to Greece would be a nightmare we do not even want to think about, so in time we’ll part with the Harley, and the UK registered Triumph will become Greek registered.  We intend to complete the registration process before March of next year, after then things might get more complex and we might as well take full advantage of EU membership while we can.

We will worry about the registration process when we get to Lesvos, there will be paperwork and expenses, but it does not look too hard.  Until then we get all the fun of the road and the delights of France and Italy.  More on this as it unfolds.

 

 

In which we lose our camera… (and other disasters) Though the trip was a lot of fun.

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Towards the end of June, during Bayram, we went to Greece again.  This was a rather mixed adventure. We did, of course, have a wonderful time, but a couple of not very good things happened.

The first day we rode up to Cannakale. A longish ride but, once we got past Izmir, a pleasant one. There’s a really great place right above Assos where we stopped for tea and to admire the view.  Canakkale itself was, as ever, a lively and interesting place to spend an evening. Come morning we headed for the border. There were a load of cars parked up in a sort of queue but we just rode past them. It was very hot and there was a longish wait to get across the border but, really, no hassle. Though being stuck in very hot sunshine for an hour or so was not all that pleasant. Other travelers reported waiting eight hours or more at that crossing so we were lucky.  Once over the border we had a smooth run to Loutra near the Evros Valley and Alexandropolis. Our hotel room was overlooked by a huge tree occupied by a large colony of Spanish sparrows who were a constant source of entertainment.

Dadia-vulturesThe village has three hotels and one restaurant (semi-attached to our hotel). We took several walks around the area seeing bee eaters and a whole load of different raptors, although it was not really the best time of year for birding in the area. We rode over to Dadia forest and walked up to the hide for viewing the vultures. Got some wonderful photos. On our last night, we gave some mosquito repellent to some fellow guests which, somehow or other, led to several bottles of wine, ouzo, cheese and dancing till the early hours.

 

Next morning we headed to Chalkidiki where we had arranged to meet up with some friends from the UK. We had booked a hotel in Afitos which is absolutely lovely.  OK, it’s a holiday resort and totally geared up for tourists, but that has distinct advantages. We found a bar with a wonderful view…

We met up with our friends and had a very good lunch and a long natter. Then it was off to Kerkini.

Well, we love Kerkini. We met up with Vassilis who is an expert on the local wildlife. His nickname is Πελικανος. We took a boat trip with him in the early morning out to the drowned forest and where the pelicans are. We took lots of wonderful photos. We went to where he told us the bee eaters were.  You can see Ashley searching for the bee eaters in the picture below.  We took lots of wonderful photos. We went out to where he told us the rollers were. We didn’t see rollers but…. On the way home we had a luggage malfunction and lost the DSLR. And all the photos. Except the ones I took on the pocket camera.  Which is why there are no high quality photos in this post.

We retraced our steps to the place of the rollers (still saw no rollers) then Ashley went out again on the back of Vassilis’ bike. And they saw rollers (but I was in the hotel with my Kindle).

That, sadly, was not the end of the bad stuff. The bike made a horrible clunk as we were leaving Chalkidiki. And, by the time we got to Kerkini, there was obviously something wrong. Vassilis called in a friend of his who is a mechanic and, between Vassilis, his friend and Ashley, they managed to shorten the clutch cable. But it was not right. When in neutral, the bike kept creeping forwards…

Next day we rode to Kavala. It was very, very hot. We arrived many hours before our ferry was due to sail and sat in a bar, drinking coffee, then in a restaurant where we had a meal. There was a huge air and naval show going on and it was entertaining to watch the jets flying formation and the helicopters making whirlpools around the harbour.  The show continued whilst we queued for the ferry and as we left the harbour on the ferry.

We didn’t have a cabin. We had booked airline seats but the lounge was very noisy so we attempted to sleep in the bar area. Got off the ferry at Lesvos and stayed for three nights at our usual Studios (Shine Studios – really well equipped and tastefully decorated studio apartments with lovely owners, highly recommended) whilst we waited for space on the boat back to Ayvalik. We went to visit the house again. At this point we were waiting for the formalities to be done and the vendor to fix a date to come out to Lesvos to visit the notary together and finalise the sale.

The bike got us to Mytilini, onto the ferry, off again and as far as just before Menemen. At which point Ashley decided it was not safe to ride it any further. We phoned Harley Izmir who were not able to send a recovery vehicle to us till the next day. The guys in the petrol station we stopped in phoned a friend and we got recovered to Harley Izmir.  Not cheap, but necessary and very efficient.

We sat for an hour in the café at Harley Izmir awaiting a diagnosis. It was a broken clutch bearing. Which was replaced and, after about 90 minutes, we were on our way.

There was an incredible amount of traffic on the way out of Izmir (did I mention it was really, really hot?), but it thinned out just before the (toll) motorway. We’d planned to do stuff after we got home but, really… we were pretty totally exhausted. So dinner out then bed.

The second leg – Çıralı, Patara and Saklikent

Way-home-from-Pattara

We left Eğidir after breakfast and headed South past Lake Kovada.  This road has now been made (we’ve got covered in tar on it in previous years) and is quite spectacular.  It must be one of the best bike rides in the world though it is quite technical in places.

After winding above crevasses and through wonderful gorges full of pines, it comes out on the main road to Antalya.  Which is not quite so interesting.  Having passed through Antalya we broke our journey in Çıralı, which was enough riding for the day.  We’ve written about Çıralı before.  There was nothing much there the first time we visited but it’s become quite ‘developed’.  Still beautiful, but packed with hotels and restaurants.

We stayed in a pleasant hotel with love birds and grey parrots in cages in the garden.  We had an evening meal and left after breakfast the next morning.

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We rode on to Patara, or, rather the village of Gelemiş.  We have stayed there quite a few times before and have our favourite Pansyion where we are recognised, welcomed and given our usual room.  We walked down through the dunes and back along the beach.  All of which we have done before.  All of which is spectacular.

Next day we headed for Saklikent Gorge…  That’s for walking.  Or wading.  Depending on the time of year.  This time we got the time of year right and were able to walk all the way.  It was crowded, but still mindblowingly beautiful.

And, finally, the archaeological site at Pattara.  This was not our first visit but the archaelogists and restoration people have been working very hard.

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We stood and watched this lintel being lowered carefully into its proper place.

Finally came the long ride home….  But this was a trip worth repeating!

Inundation

Our garage

Our garage

We were planning on catching up on some of the trips we have not covered yet, but recent events have given an opportunity to kick off 2016 with a blog entry about living here is Selçuk. What some people may not know is we get roughly the same amount of annual rainfall as Dublin, but here pretty much all that rain happens in the three months of winter. December was unusually dry, no rain at all, pretty much day after day of unbroken sunshine. Then on Sunday night the rain arrived, maybe all the rain missed in December in one night.

We watched the road turn into a river. The river kept rising as the torrent came down off the hill. It rose above the kerb and into neighbours’ homes. And, as it rose further, into our garage. There was nothing we could do in the middle of the night, nothing could be got out against the water flow, the street was a knee deep torrent, it was hard enough standing up against it. Vodka seemed a very good idea at the time.

So, in the morning came clean up and a thick head. We got the bike out. Then phoned a friend who came around with a pump. Between the pump, buckets, mops, towels, and the help of various local children (who should probably have been in school) we got the water and mud out of the garage. A mattress we were storing has been consigned to the bin along with a load of spare cardboard we use to light the wood stove. This is all we have lost.

The Belediye (local council) workmen arrived with a JCB and a tractor with a trailer to clear the mud, stones and debris from the street and one nearby which was knee deep in mud.

The bike should be OK. We got it off the street, up by the side of the house. The Belidiye workmen helped us push it up the slope, hard work given all the slippery mud. I am going to leave it a couple of days to dry out, then charge the battery and see what happens. The water never got to the electrics or anything else sensitive, so I am hoping for nothing bad.

flood---bike-on-the-street

Before we could go inside and wash our feet, the children insisted on having their photographs taken with the bike. We’ve promised them hard copy of the photos tomorrow afternoon.

The street is a mess, there is still ankle deep mud in places. More rain is predicted, maybe it will wash the mud away. The clean up will take a few days. We’re more than half way up the hill, those lower down will, doubtless, have worse problems though the drainage around our house and a few nearby leaves a lot to be desired.

Nysa

NyssaK

It was a beautiful, sunny Thursday and we decided it was time for a day trip. The bike, after all, needs regular exercise. Various destinations were debated but, in the end, we decided to go to Nyssa.
Nyssa is just outside the modern town of Sultanhisar which is almost half way to Nazili from Aydin. A couple of hours on the bike got us there.
NyssaJThe site is impressive. There were a number of archaeologists at work. Their current project is uncovering the streets that run through the town on a grid plan. They are finding all sorts of monuments decorated in low relief along the way and many of these were visible from the publicly accessible areas. We were the only visitors.
The site is quite extensive – the original Hellenistic buildings were arranged across a ravine, with tunnels giving access between areas. There has been some restoration, but it’s very tasteful – it’s quite clear which bits are original and which are new. We think it’s more of a ‘shoring up to keep the structures safe’ than a ‘the public won’t be interested unless we try to make it look like the shiny original’ type of work.
The theatre is particularly impressive (Hilary has a soft spot for theatres, especially Hellenistic style theatres) and parts of the original stadium seating can be seen.  The library is clearly built on the same plan as the famous library at Ephesus but it is much less restored and none the less impressive for that.  Though it should be said that it isn’t quite as big.  The agora is huge, and very good for wildlife.  We saw Agama, ophisops and several rock nuthatches (heard before they were seen) being considerably braver than is usual for them.

On the way home, just after we stopped for petrol, we smelled wet tarmac, then saw wet tarmac then we were treated to a brief but intense rain shower.  So now the bike needs cleaning again!