When the opportunity to buy the şahin (falcon) arrived my excitement must have clouded my normally good sense of judgement. My decision to buy the bike was sound, but how I was to transport the bike back home was risky to say the least.
At the time it only made sense to just ride the bike back from Antalya to Ordu. What better way to get introduced to a new bike, so I thought. It didn’t matter that I had never even seen the bike, nor have I ever driven across the country before. It didn’t matter that in the middle of winter the weather in Turkey, especially central Turkey, can be brutally cold and snowy. In fact just a week before the trip a winter storm had dropped about a foot of snow in City of Ordu, and about 5 feet in the mountains outside the city. I suspected that there was at least that much everywhere else along the way. As long as it wasn’t snowing, I figured it was doable. I checked the weather forecast, and it looked clear and above freezing. So it should be no problem.
The distance between Antalya and Ordu is just under 1200 km (730 mi), and about 14 hours if I didn’t stop. I choose a route using major roadways in the event that there were any problems. I could easy find someone to help. I also decided to break up the trip into two days, or 600 km per day. By the way, the farthest I had ever ridden was 550 km, and I was really sore the next day. I arranged to stay with a friend in Ankara (interestingly exactly half way). Everything was set, and I was ready.
I set out early in the morning with the sunrise. I set out from Antalya along the Mediterrian Sea, and everything was going perfectly. The weather was a cool but comfortable 15 degrees (60 degrees F). The new bike was considerably more comfortable than my little bike, and cruising at 110 kph (65 mph), I figured I was have plenty of time to stop and take pictures along the way. After about an hour, I turned onto the highway towards Konya and Ankara. It was shortly after this, that my perfect plan started to unravel.
In Antalya, I mentioned to several people that I was planning on riding the motorcycle back to Ordu. Everyone would say, “vay be, delirdin mi nerden geldi bu düşünce.” (translation: wow, are you crazy…where did you get this idea). I would just say, “birşey olmaz” (nothing will happen). I think for most people this might have made them second guess their plan, but I was prepared. I had warm clothes, a planned route, and the weather would be clear. My mistake was that I trusted the weather forecast.
After turning off the coastal highway, the road to Konya climbs quickly over the Taurus Mountains. The road climbs to an elevation of over 1800 m (6,200 feet). The forecast for the coast was 15 degrees (60 F), and in Konya, the next city, a cool but manageable 8 degrees (46 degrees). My first warning that in between might be different is the drifts of snow on the side of the road. Soon I was lucky if I could see the side of the road as a heavy fog set in. The rest of the way I was lucky if I could see 500 m (or a quarter mile) in front of me. So much for getting some good pictures.
My hands were getting numb and starting to hurt. I decided to pull off at a rest stop and warm up a bit and check the forecast again. I sat in the restaurant eating a bowl of soup, and checked my updated weather app. I was disappointed to see that the forecasted high was still between 4 and 8 degrees (40 to 50), but the current temperature was 6 below (21 degrees F). How can there be a forecast with a high of 8 and a low of 4, and the current temperature be -6? Also I don’t understand how fog can stay in the air when it’s soo cold.
I made it to Ankara in about 8 hours. However, I had to stop every hour and a half to drink some tea. I was so cold that I didn’t even think about taking a picture. I was just focused on not freezing to death and getting to my destination. Literally 1 mile before my destination, the fog lifted to blue skies. I couldn’t believe it.
One of the positive points to the trip is that when you are numb your bottom doesn’t hurt.