DAVE NEWMAN'S MOTORCYCLE DIARY
TO TURKEY AND BEYOND...THE PLAN
Dave Newman and friends recently decided that a big motorcycle trip was long overdue. The only solution was to plan and carry out one as soon as possible. So here it is the plan and how it all began.
Probably one of the best parts of a BIG trip is sitting around making plans, getting maps out and looking at information on the computer.
Two of my friends and I decided that a BIG trip was a good idea shortly after resigning our commission as marshals of the 24 Hour Dawn to Dusk enduro which we had been helping to organise and run for many years. Once we had handed over the mantle we needed to fill the vacuum and a BIG trip fitted the bill.
Where to go was the first question and for a while we explored the idea of sending our bikes out to either eastern Russia or Mongolia and riding back. It was eminently suitable but we realised that money, and more significantly time constraints were factors that meant it was not going to happen. Whilst Chip is a Gentleman of Leisure, both Milky and I have work commitments so some rationalising was required.
At the planning stage one of the most interesting places to travel across after Mongolia looked like Iran. We had spoken to a number of folk who had been and read numerous accounts and Iran is a very welcoming and exciting place to travel through. Plan number two was to travel across Turkey and Iran for an undecided amount of time, depending on work situations. More serious research was undertaken, Google Earth, Wikiloks, visits to the map shop and visa enquiries. There were questions to be answered.
The Iranians for reasons of recent history do not have an embassy in the UK but visas can be obtained en route. Istanbul would be perfect, and a few days spent sight seeing there could be done at the same time.
The journey from home to Turkey could in itself become a BIG trip so we decided to put the bikes on a trailer and drive to Istanbul and start the ride from there. This would have the added bonus of only using one load of fuel and not trashing the semi off-road tyres we wanted to use.
No guide, no visa
Then came the inevitable set back. The Iranian government declared that like the Yanks and Canadians, Dirty Brits would need a guide to travel around Iran. A guide has to be arranged via an official agent and would cost about £200/day. No guide, no visa. For us this would never work as our plan was to ride as many dirt trails as possible and with the best will in the world a guide in his car would find it difficult following a KTM. Also the price is ridiculous when the guides are paid about $30. On top of that a carnet for the bikes was required at £300/bike. The people trying to organise our visas did their level best but in the end had to admit defeat. I’d like to say their loss but we certainly feel it is ours. B****y international politics!!
Undeterred - Plan B came into being. Same as before but visit Georgia and Armenia instead of Iran. Back on the internet and guide books and we get excited again.
Milky has had his KTM 950 Adventure for several years, it's his daily commute into London from Kent. Also used for trail rides whenever possible and usually in difficult terrain for such a monster. Having seen a few miles and more than a couple of scrapes it has required some attention and TLC. Chip was impressed enough with Milky's bike to find himself one on Ebay. It also needed a few items changing before the BIG trip.
I had wanted to use an old BMW 100GS that I had owned for a good while but everything told me it was not a good idea without spending loads on it. It was cheaper and easier to give in and join the KTM fan club. A friend was selling a well sorted LC4 so that was my choice for the trip.
The lovely people at Wemoto supplied us with sevice items, spare parts and Heidenau Scout rear tyres. We had heard good things about the Metzler Karoo 3’s. Many people are interested in tyre performance so we will let you know how the respective tyres did. Getting the bikes ready is also an exciting time. Not only the oil changing side but sorting out where all the associated bits n bobs are going to fit. Zip tying and duck taping things in a place where they won't get in the way is not only essential preparation, but very satisfying.
The last few weeks before we were due to leave flew by as there was so much to do. Not only getting the bike and last minute stuff together but making sure everything was covered at work. There was the inevitable unforeseen situation that needed resolving and then all of a sudden we were loading the bikes onto the trailer and in the van, goodbye and off to Dover for an evening train. We aimed to drive through the night, taking it in turns to grab some kip on a camp bed in the back. A tried and tested method from previous trips to the Pyrenees.
By afternoon we were in southern Germany and we had a break visiting the Eagles Nest, a mountain top chalet near Berchtestgaden built by the National Socialist Party for a certain Mr Hitler on his 50th Birthday. Loads of disturbing history plus an amazing bus ride up a four mile narrow private road to the site.
On to Salzburg for our first night. After a decent sleep we were prepared for the next stage which was the long stage across Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia & Bulgaria. It took two days of boring driving along mainly flat straight motorway. Things of note:
A “vignette” for a car/van is required for Slovenian motorways. Minimum 1 week for 40€ . For a country that takes a couple of hours to cross a non motorway route may be preferable, it was for us.
Bad roads in Bulgaria
In Serbis beware of the temptation to nip past lorries that have slowed down to walking pace over bad road surfaces. Police will be waiting just down the road to give on the spot fines. Bulgaria has some very bad road surfaces and most of the country is for sale. Lorries queue for miles at the entry to Bulgaria & Turkey waiting to clear customs. You can go past to the front of the queue.
As anticipated getting into Turkey took a couple of hours. The confusion for the officers was the van and bikes. Particularly that the van and one bike was registered to Chip. We paved the way by having an explanation translated that we handed to the various border folk. It was all good natured but took a while. Then we were in and off to park the van in the factory of our new best friend Onur, about 60 miles west of Istanbul. Then off load the bikes for the BIG trip to really begin.
Well, not quite as we now have a couple of days here in Istanbul. Jane and Angela have flown out to be tourists with us. It is one huge city, 18 million living in its environs. The weather is not great so we are waiting to see which direction we will go in a few days time. Watch this space
More to follow in the coming weeks as the trip unfolds!
Any comments? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Sign up to receive updates and new posts straight to your in-box.