Start-Stop Nightmare

The alarm went off at 6am so we could pack up and leave, while it was still cool. Aidan felt rotten and had to lie down again. So I took the tent down around him. A quick breakfast of bread and jam and coffee for me and just tea for Aidan and we were off. Shame, Aidan looked like he was going to collapse out of the saddle any minute.

We managed quite a few miles on the big road, before Seven’s engine got too hot. We parked up by an olive grove and Aidan passed out under a tree. The guy from the nearby stall selling fruit jams, juices and olives came over to hand each of us a potently sweet and refreshing pomegranate juice. Yum! But we were almost too sick to drink it… my tummy was starting to feel a little queasy again too.

The next time I misjudged the engine temperature and the warning light came on. So we did an emergency halt in a driveway where quarry-lorries drove in and out, whipping up the dry dust into the wind and all over us. I’d had to coast down there and we had no choice as we had to get off the busy road. Aidan tried to get some sleep and I was reading “The Never Ending Story” with dust and sand covering the pages and creeping in between my teeth.

As soon as we dared start the engine again, we were off, but the next stop came quite soon. A worker told us we must move on from this lorry driveway, as he would get into major trouble with his boss, if he allowed us to stay. Even if we did tuck away under the young pines. Luckily¬†there was a small road not much further on where Aidan passed out under an apricot tree even before I’d managed to park my bike in the shade. Too nauseous to make use of the free fruits, I just read loads more in my book.

The day was heating up and the roads got busier, so the riding periods got shorter and the cooling down breaks longer. The next few stops were at petrol stations and in towns, where we drank cola and tried to eat something. Not wanting to get stuck in hot city traffic we took the ferry across the water, missing most of Izmir, and giving the engine a minute to cool down. Aidan was starting to feel a little less sick and more and more grumpy and fed up.

On the boat a couple climbed out of their car and started inching closer, craning their necks, trying to identify all the flags on Aidan’s panniers. Just as they struck up a conversation, their children turned up speaking excellent English. The girl told me how she’d been to India and how we’d love it there while the guy told us to visit Ephesus and gave a whole list of places to visit.

Off the ferry we rode as fast as we could, but the warning light came on by the seafront in Guzelbahce so I hopped on the pavement and parked up. The wind was gushing the waves over the promenade and the bikes were covered in salty spray. Hopefully that would cool the engine down faster. The sun was disappearing fast and Aidan wasn’t keen to try and find the place in the dark. So we set off soon again.

The road took us through the old town and up a steep winding road in the mountains behind. That was too much for the engine and it overheated again. I beeped at Aidan and turned the engine off again. But I couldn’t get off the bike as it would slide back down the hill if I let go of the brake. So as soon as I dared, I turned the engine on, rode on a bit and turned it off again. And again. Till I found an even spot to park up.

It was dark by now and Aidan had raced on, thinking I had just gone for a pee. Eventually he came back, fuming. He was pissed off with the whole situation and couldn’t believe the light had come on again. I’d had enough too, feeling tired and ready to throw in the towel and just sleep by the roadside. But we were only about 7km away. I’d text both Erdem and his brother that we’d be late, but hadn’t received a reply and had no idea if anyone was going to be there. Erdem lives in Izmir, and they rent the house in the village so they can work on the land they own close by.

We pulled ourselves together and after a seemingly endless wait we set off again carefully creeping round sharp bends by our dim bike lights. I kept spurring Seven on “C’mon baby, stay cool!” coasting on the downhill bits so the engine wouldn’t work too hard. Finally we spied some lights round the last corner and down the hill: Payamli! We rode straight into the village. Rather than ride about trying to find the place, overheating the engine, we asked the guys sipping chai at the cafe. One whipped out his phone and then they all gestured to the parallel road. Levent, Erdem’s brother, would wait for us outside.

When we got there Levent was doing his best jumping jack impressions in the middle of the road. We’d finally made it! Not only were they there, but dinner was waiting for us! Aidan declined, still not trusting his tummy. But I tucked in, it was yum! We stayed up for a while, chatting away and then collapsed into bed.

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