The morning had arrived and we were finally getting back on the road. Our packing up routine was a bit rusty now, and lengthened by the new procedure of unscrewing all the fairing to jump start my bike, but soon enough we were off en route to the village market for supplies and by lunchtime we’d left Yalova for good. We were heading back towards Bursa, but avoiding the direct route this time we climbed up over the mountains in search of a more fun trail.
Our first attempt led us into a quarry just as my petrol light came on. So we turned around, emptied the contents of our camping stove into my fuel tank, and tried again. The second road we tried was really terrible. Huge ruts and potholes kept our speed below 10mph and as we slowly crawled along the miles of gravelly mess, a second quarry began to creep into view. Yup, this road was a dead end too. My fuel light had come on again, so rather than risk running out in the middle of nowhere and being at the mercy of the quarrymen, we decided to take a road that I knew. Back through Kurtkoy (and a quick stop for petrol), we climbed a different ridge, leading back towards the waterfall we’d visited before. I’d taken this road to Bursa solo, so I knew that there was plenty of twisty fun to be had and without having to worry about navigation, I could immerse myself in finally being back in the saddle.
As we passed through Gemlik and skirted round the outer ring of Bursa we hit rush hour traffic, and my overheated bike started to stall. It wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if it weren’t for the trouble it took to start it up again, and I had to resort to holding the throttle open while stationary, just to keep the thing running. As soon as possible, we turned down a dirt track, bumped our way through an orchard of pears and settled in for a dinner of bread, cheese and beer. Our only visitor was an Serbian farm hand who’d inexplicably traversed the same dirt track in a transit, to tell us that we might get arrested for free camping. He wished us well though and went on his way.
Next morning’s breakfast consisted of pears plucked from above our heads and good turkish coffee brewed on the refilled camping stove. The transit reappeared, driven this time by the owner of the land. Far from being disgruntled at the loss of his pears, he popped into a greenhouse and came out with an armful of ripe tomatoes to help us on our way! No common language but a surplus of smiles on both sides.
Our next stop was Mustafakemalpasa, where I was hoping to catch up with my mates from Pasa Enduro. I didn’t have any phone numbers though, so the plan was to be generally conspicuous around town and hope that someone spotted me.
An hour of standing-out was fairly exhausting though, and eventually we had to cut our losses and head out of town. Of course I heard later that I’d been spotted by at least half a dozen friends-of-friends, and it seems we’d spent the day Benny Hill style chasing each other in circles round town without ever meeting. Oh well.
Keen to stay off the main road, we took a random route south and with the sun beating down on us, we figured it was about time to have a break, sit in the shade and make some lunch. As it turned out the road made the decision for us, by abruptly turning into a tiny, dusty track. We stopped in the shade of a tree to assess, and to figure out if it was even still a road. Of course before we even had our helmets off, two workers from the adjacent dairy had run over with ice cold ayran and an avalanche of questions. We were ushered into the co-op and sat down where a matronly lady fussed over and over-fed us, while the men explained that the dirt track was maybe passable, if you were in a 4×4. Sounds good – let’s go.
We jump started my bike, waved our goodbyes and wobbled off. It wasn’t really a road at all, more just a series of ruts carved out by the tyres of logging trucks and occasionally we’d have to find a viable route on foot before moving forward, but it was challenging and exhilarating and we were only stopped, half way through the forest when my engine overheated.
Time for a break and a photo then. Hang on, where’s Icebear? We looked back through the photos we’d taken over the course of the day. There he is on Maria’s shoulder in Kemalpasa…..next picture is Maria’s bike trundling through the dirt track….. minus the bear. He must’ve snuck off for a drink in Kempasa and missed the ride out! Photo with Sam instead then.
The flowing water we’d heard turned out to be a stunning little secluded spot, where warm stones sloped down to meet a refreshing little pool all hidden by a canopy of thick leaves. We stripped off and dove into the cold water for a wash and a swim, then lay on the rocks to dry off and discuss our loss.
Maria said it would be best to go on, but it was clear she was gutted at losing her buddy, and that she was saying it for my benefit. Even though we had a very slim chance of actually finding him, since we had no real agenda, what harm could it do to spend an hour looking? So we headed back the way we’d come. The road was considerably easier after a bit of practice and we were able to keep our eyes on the ground, looking out for black fur.
Once we hit the main road back into town I sped up, aiming to head for the cafe we’d parked next to and ask if anyone had seen him (maybe check the local drinking houses) when Maria started honking and waving furiously. She thought she’d spotted him on the other side of the dual carraigeway! We took the first u-turn we could find and sure enough, there he was; helmetless on the hard shoulder looking his usual bedraggled self and being run over by the occasional tractor wheel. We hunted around and eventually tracked down his helmet; it’d been picked up by a nearby cay vendor and added to a shelf of curiosities. Luckily the guy hadn’t spotted icebear or we’d never have found him. He was promised a beer or two to get over the emotional trauma, then strapped firmly back in place. It was good to have the little bastard back.