Repairs and regroupings

Sept. 27, 2011 (day 132) Turkey

The week we spent at Kerem's house was perhaps the most pleasant experience of hospitality so far. He invited not only us, but also four other cycling travellers: Sarah and Bryan from US, and two Swiss guys — Tristan and Nans. That could perhaps mean one of the biggest WarmShowers gatherings until now.

Kerem used his free time after work to show us local foods and relax with beers, and with a huge set of puzzles occupying the biggest table in his house. On the weekend we also met his friends, and had a picnic together, the same way as thousands of Istanbul citizens do, densely occupying kilometers of the seaside promenades.

I also fixed some things in my bike. The saddle urgently needed replacing, together with the bottom bracket, which had gone loose after countless days of rain and numerous mountain climbs. The distance seemed small for Deore LX, but I had it from a box of used parts in my local shop, so it's history and mileage were always unknown to me. The replacement is unfortunately of a much lower class, and I expect it not to survive until the end of the journey. The worse, my front hub also showed visible traces of wear, which I consider a very bad result for Deore XT part after 7000km. Probably, my puncture resistant tyres contributed to that damage. Having not taken off the wheel for thousands of kilometers, I forced the cones of the hub to be stressed constantly in the same place. To open the hub, I needed a non-standard 17mm spanner. After searching through all the bike and hardware shops in Istanbul, I found a high-class tool for 10EUR, while ordinary four-sized 13-16mm spanner costed only a fraction of that price. I also put on a new trip computer, which I had bought in LIDL supermarket in Bulgaria. The VDO A4 computer I had before, having much less functions and two times higher price, was problematic since it let water in, somewhere in Poland. One of two buttons stopped working, so I opened and cleaned it. Then the other one broke down, and every morning I had to spend few minutes clicking these buttons, in order to reset the counter. After a month of such fights, I couldn't stand it anymore and just smashed it against the ground during one of these morning reset sessions.

To straighten out all the computing issues, I took a proper measure of my front wheel, which resulted to be much less then the number I had entered into the computer. It set my total mileage back by almost 200km. I should have celebrated finishing 7000km, because if I had done that, I could celebrate it twice! After the corrections had been made, I reached this number on the same day we left Istanbul.

Nans and Tristan attacking Asia

Nans and Tristan attacking Asia

I'm writing in plural, because I set out not alone. The Swiss guys are going the same way. Tristan is already in the middle of his two-month bicycle journey from Geneva to Tehran, and Nans has just joined him for two weeks. The huge distance and limited time force them to speed, and also to use buses or trains, which means that our ways would split quite soon.

We finally left the crowded and noisy, but still beautiful city of Istanbul. On the same day we left the Marmara coast and arrived to the shores of the Black Sea. The minor road, recommended by Kerem, was extremely hilly and lacked asphalt for some time, but quickly drove us out of the traffic of the huge city. As we approached the other coast, the weather was changing. Clouds appeared and became thick, and for the first time since the north of Romania, I experienced raindrops falling on me. As we learned later, on that day there were local floods in Istanbul, due to huge rainfall. The landscape also changed, giving way to greenery and lush vegetation. Fresh, soft and sweet figs started to appear, and after trying them from friendly locals at one of the villages we passed, we have included them into our daily diet.

The tourist season has passed

The tourist season has passed

The next day happened to be quite unfortunate. Speeding on a steep and curvy downhill, I noticed my companions on the side of the road, cleaning their wounds. Poor guys were riding too close to each other, and when one of them slipped on wet asphalt, they both crashed. Fortunately, they were quite well, but the inspection of the bikes showed bad results. Both handlebar bags somehow smashed into the ground, tearing one of them and breaking new camera lens in the other one. Reassembly by hands proved unsuccessful and Nans's photo workshop has been quite limited, just after two days of the journey.

The constant up and downhills are the major feature of Turkey's northern coast, where patches of flat land are very scarce. The road cuts through that terrain mercilessly, making us hop from one valley to another. The drivers were quite surprised to see bikers going over there, and once I was even stopped by a friendly Turkish guy, and given stuffed paprika and grapes. Soaked in sweat, I must have looked poor.

At a gas station we pumped our wheels. After few kilometers I started to feel that the rear wheel was working unevenly. Looking there, I discovered a huge bulge on the tyre. My Schwalbe Marathon Supreme, which I valued so much for the resistance to punctures, just gave up. Having ridden no more than 10,000km in total, it just tore from inside, along the edge of the protective band. This is quite weak result for something having "marathon" in the name. I expected to change the tyres at the end of the asphalt, somewhere in Sudan or maybe Egypt, but seems that my spare Marathon Extreme will have to show extreme durability. Otherwise, I would have to arrange some new tyres in Africa, which might be an interesting adventure.

When the hardware things reached some equilibrium, and no more problems appeared, we could finally enjoy the wavy shape of northern Turkey. Seriously, if someone looks for physical effort, this is the place to go. During these days we were eating belly-full three times a day, just to become hungry again in few hours. The Swiss guys proved to be great cooks, and preparing food for three is always better fun than doing it alone. This resulted in delicious, varied meals, which I will be missing quite soon.

City hills around Zonguldak

City hills around Zonguldak

It often smells of burn brakes

It often smells of burn brakes

Despite the great effort, the time was running short for Nans and Tristan. I suggested them to go as fast as they can, and not to wait for me. We said goodbye, and I quickly lost them from my radar... just to meet them in the evening, going in the opposite direction. The cities of Zonguldak and Kilimli, spread on seaside mountains, for all of us were the place, where the darkness caught us. With no other choice than a beach hotel, we had the last opportunity to cook together, and watch Turkish wedding happening in the courtyard. The next morning we said goodbye for the second time, and boys left with a plan to reach Safranbolu, 130km away.

Comments:

kaha
kaha
10 years, 1 month ago
Jak miło na powrót cieszyć się płaskim Wrocławiem i jego urzekąjącą, już w jesiennych kolorach, okolicą :)
Wojtek
Wojtek
10 years, 1 month ago
Czytam, cieszę się do monitora, zazdroszczę... :)
mama
mama
10 years, 1 month ago
Miło, że piszesz, ale mógłbyś częściej! Trzymamy kciuki za wszystkie opony, supporty i piasty!!! Dostawę sprzętu do Afryki, w razie konieczności (odpukać!!!), jakoś będziemy kombinować, ale nasze możliwości organizacyjne poprawią się dopiero w maju! nie daj się piaskom, wiatrom ani innym przeciwnościom!
pela
pela
10 years, 1 month ago
pozdrowienia z wroclawskiego srodmiescia, gdzie dzieci, psy i golebie wioda raczej prosty zywot, ale o ile tu nudniej mozna wyczytac z tego co piszesz ;) dolaczam do grona cieszacych sie do monitora.
Marcin
Marcin
10 years ago
Halo Halo!

Wrocławski rowerzysta będący na wygnaniu w Eskisehir (Erasmus)pozdrawia z Turcji. Jeśli zawitasz w rejon tego miasta daj znać:) Mój adres to gloster małpka onet kropczeka pl
johny
johny
10 years ago
Wielki szacun dla Ciebie bracie... głównie za odwagę. Choć nie zawsze na bieżąco, to jednak staram się śledzić przebieg Twojego wyczynu i przyznaję- czytam z otwartymi ustami:) Powodzenia!!!
Wilk
Wilk
10 years ago
A nie chciało się wierzyć jak ostrzegałem, że Supreme mają przebiegi w tych granicach ;))
10tys z tak ciężkim bagażem - to i tak jest bardzo dobry wynik. Generalnie jeśli chcesz przedłużyć życie opony to radziłbym zmieniać co jakieś 3-5tys km tył z przodem, wtedy będą się zużywały bardziej równomiernie, bo obciążenie na tyle jest dużo większe.

A z rozmiarem 26 nie powinno być problemów nawet w Afryce czy na Bliskim Wschodzie, tylko że to już raczej nie będą produkty markowe. Powodzenia na trasie i oby Cie ominęły zawirowania polityczne w Syrii