May 06, 2003 GMT
Death of a bike

In memory of R.E. Bullet (24.5.1968-5.5.2003)

Born in Britain in Enfield, Bullet was taken by her parents to India at a young age. There she spent almost the entire remainder of her life, where she worked uncomplainingly but thanklessly doing hard physical labour in various northern states. The tropical environment took its toll, and various illnesses led to a decline to decrepitude in the 1990s. A chance encounter with a travelling foreigner, nearly six years her junior, in early 2003 led to a brief but intense affair. After a good deal of plastic surgery and rejuvenative care, the pair set off to return to Bullet's land of birth. The partnership proved highly successful, but disaster struck in eastern Turkey, where Bullet was hospitalised with lethargy. Medical negligence led to a massive seizure. After three weeks of dashed hopes, the life support machines were finally switched off on Monday 5th May. She will be much missed. Bullet is survived by her partner. They had no children.

So, my disbelief in the bike having been fixed was well-founded. The re-bore was a botched job, and the piston was seizing every few kilometres, as soon as the engine became hot. It turns out that a massive lathe isn't the right equipment for a re-bore, but unfortunately the mechanic still advised it, despite knowing of a re-bore machine in the next town. A re-re-bore was attempted on this, and looked much more hopeful, but it now became apparent that the last piston seizure had broken something in the crank assembly.

This was a desperately serious scenario, and I spent several days researching and considering the costs, time implications and intangible consequences of the various options and their possible outcomes. In the end, I came to the tragic conclusion that I would have to abandon the bike. It's not that the bike wasn't fixable, given sufficient time and money, which made it particularly difficult to reach the decision. Financially, in the unlikely event that all went smoothly, mending it successfully would still have been worthwhile, but the trip is finite, as is my inclination to spend several more weeks tending to it.

Leaving the bike, naturally, was easier said than done. I had promised customs that I would take it out of Turkey, and had a stamp in my passport to prove it. In principle I should have been able to surrender it to them and be let off the hook, but they weren't interested. Their best suggestion was that I take it out of Turkey, back to Iran! Thanks for nothing. It took several days, three trips to the border, and much canvassing of the support of police and local dignitaries before they were persuaded to be more amenable. A final day of paper pushing saw the carcass of my bike delivered on the back of a tractor to the home for dead and confiscated vehicles. A sad moment.

Bernard was fond of quoting a definition of adventure as 'a risky endeavour with uncertain outcome'. It sums up the trip rather well. In my case, the outcome wasn't all that I hoped, but I made it much further along the path than seemed likely at many points. It was well worth the risks - travelling by bike is fantastic, and all that I hoped it would be.

At least I'm now free to continue on my way, after the frustrations of the past three weeks. I made a quick escape this morning from the glorified military barracks that is Doggybiscuit, sitting on a coach through the glorious biking weather, to the far corner of Lake Van. Tomorrow I shall continue through the improbably named Batman (and that's its real name!), skirting along the south of the country, with a detour north to Cappadocia. I aim to fly back to England at the end of the month. However, with the end of the biking, the weblog ends here. Thanks for reading.


P.S. The rest of Turkey was superb...

Rose-scented Sanliurfa

Rose-scented Sanliurfa has the best cafes in all Asia

Nemrut Dagi is worth a climb

Nemrut Dagi is worth a climb

Cappadocia  a more conventional destination, but still extraordinary

Cappadocia a more conventional destination, but still extraordinary

The epitome of romantic ruins in the clouds of Termessos

The epitome of romantic ruins in the clouds of Termessos

Posted by James Whyte at 05:47 PM GMT

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