I was getting utterly sick of climbing hills when the road began to level out and the riding became easier. The hills which thankfully all seem to be behind me are really steep, in fact they’re a 7% gradient and that’s a hell of a lot to expect of a bike as old as Effie to manage, but she’s done a pretty good job. Mind you I think I’ve done nearly as much pushing as I’ve done riding these past few days so we’re probably on a par.
Right about when the road improved I was suddenly faced with a different sort of challenge…two huge wild dogs the size of Saint Bernards came hurtling towards me. Pedalling as if my life depended on it I think I barely escaped without them tearing off a leg each. I’d seen a few dead dogs on the road and can only think they must like chasing cars and trucks as well as motorcycles despite the cards being stacked against them in favour of the heavier vehicles. Today I stopped for a rest under an awning at a building site. It seemed there was no-one around so I looked for somewhere to have a pee. That’s when I noticed a huge mongrel asleep at the back of the building. Trying not to trip and fall in a panic to get out of there, it was with great relief that I made it back to the bike safely and got going before he woke and realised I might make a good snack.
It becoming much hotter now I’m out of the hills and for a short time today I rode without my long sleeved shirt on. Not a wise thing to do obviously as I’ve now got sunburnt arms to show for it. But that’s not such a big deal now I realise I’m halfway across Turkey and reckon I must have covered about 8000kms since I set off from Nepal . The back tyre is looking like it is almost due to be changed again so I can put on one of the good ones from Europe and know I’ve got plenty of rubber between me and the tarmac for a change. The bike is running nicely again now I’ve solved the problem with the drive shaft bearing not getting the grease into it. I’m keeping it well greased now and that seems to be working well.
Despite the difficulties, the loneliness, frustration and the sheer exhaustion I’ve felt at times, I’m starting to feel pretty chuffed that I’ve made it this far. Not that I ever doubted I would, but there’ve definitely been times when I wondered what the hell I was doing this for. But I can think back to when I was working on my lathe over the past years making parts for the FN and dreaming about what it would be like to ride her back to Belgium. Now I know what it’s like and while I’ve still got a good long way to go, no doubt with plenty more hills (make that mountains) to climb, nothing seems half as daunting as it did in the beginning.
I’m now only a day’s ride away from Cappadocia where I plan to spend some time working on Effie before Lynne arrives from Istanbul to join me for a few days R & R. I’ve seen fellow riders on the road here and there but most don’t stop – they’re off on their own adventures and good luck to them. I’m looking forward to catching up with my other half and sharing stories with each other. No more sleeping on the side of road this week, hopefully no wild dogs and definitely no tinned peas! Perhaps I’ll take a balloon ride over Cappadocia, enjoy a cold beer on the terrace and have a good long soak in a hot tub. It’s good to dream.