Round Africa with a Surfboard

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by garnaro, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Trogon

    Trogon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Kwazulu Natal South Africa
    Hehe , that's pretty funny man... Never saw it like that.
    yeah there are loads of those bikes around here and dudes ride the crap out of them.. Little tinkering here and there , but they just go..
  2. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    it was a running joke during the trip when the explode was gonna explode.. :lol3
  3. TomboTombo

    TomboTombo Known smart-ass

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    Awesome thread! Are those the ortlieb bags that use the quick release connection to the rack. Or are they the ones that come as an attached pair? Been looking for a good review on those since I've had a set of the bike ones for almost a decade
  4. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    nope, those are the saddlebags. My guess is that the saddlebags are much tougher without the plastic parts to connect to the rack...
  5. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
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    As we sped across the narrow channel separating the Greek Island of Chios from Turkey, I thought surf hunting was finished for a while, but I was getting used to being wrong.


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    The Mediterranean coast of Turkey reminds me of the Big Sur Coast of Northern California with limestone cliffs shooting up dramatically from the blue waters below.


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    We‘ve become horrendously lazy tourists. Our first stop in Turkey was the ancient city of Ephesos and the only reason we were stopping there was because the guy who owned the pension on Chios had told us about it. This was the place we were about to blow by without a glance.


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    Hardly worth the trouble, eh?


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    We just go where someone happens to tell us to. Case in point, when a taxi driver in Ephesos brought us to a carpet shop. Smart idea, right? Let your taxi driver bring you to his friend’s carpet shop instead of where you want to go. We readied ourselves to endure an hour-long hard sell of $3000 Turkish carpet.


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    Fortunately, the folks there were incredibly nice - the owner showed us around the place and how the carpets were made. A woman tended to a hundred fluffy little white balls inside a metal tub with water that seemed to be magically spinning. These were the silkworm cocoons being unwound as a single strand and then combined with other strands to make the silk thread that would eventually be used for the carpets. Each carpet is made by a single woman from start to finish, and sometimes they take years to complete the incredibly intricate process of knotting the carpet into various designs. I’d never seen anything like it.


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    The next stop on the Turkish moto express was even more rad than Ephesos. It might look like Jamie is walking around bare footed in a glacial pool, but the water she’s standing in is actually quite warm. This is a massive mineral deposit, a travertine, blanketing the surface as minerals, mostly Calcium, precipitate out of the hot spring that flows down the cliffside.


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    At the top of the cliff, we found the ruins of the Roman city of Heiropolis. With a defensible position atop a cliff and a hot spring flowing right through town, I couldn’t think of a nicer place to make home in 700 BC.


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    At the center of the plateau, we saw one the most surreal sights of the entire journey – a crystal pool of the mineral-rich water with remnants of the glory days of Heiropolis enshrined at the bottom.


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    We kept up our eastward trajectory along he Turkish coast, winding over craggy headlands, and up and down stream valleys filled with meandering crustal waters. Some days we battled rainstorms, while others were clear as a bell and begging us to get riding.


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    At every stop along the way, we could hardly go for a walk, without tripping over ancient cities that mostly had relics from Roman and Byzantine times. There was always a theatre of some sort, and when we got tired of waiting for the show to start we put on our own.


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    The village of Cirali enchanted us more than anywhere else. With clear streams spilling down the towering white cliffs rich with vegetation, it was about as close to riding into Rivendell as I’ve ever felt.


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    As beautiful a place as it is, the tiny village of Cirali has not yet succumbed to the trappings of a Mediterranean tourist destination. From Cirali, we walked along the rugged coastline historically occupied by the ancient civilization of Lycia dating back to 1250 BC. Control of Lycia was bandied about, fought for, annexed, and succeeded by various pre-eminent civilizations through the centuries including the Persians, the Athenians, and the Macedonians and finally the Romans and Byzantines.


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    Throughout all of this, Lycian port cities often prospered through trade and Lycia enjoyed periods of self-rule and semi-autonomy from the big boss of the era. The early government of Lycia was a federation with Republican principles, which ended up influencing the framers of the constitution in the good old USA. In addition to a good example for running a civilization, the Lycians left us another great legacy: one of the greatest long-distance trekking routes in the world. Along the Lycian way, you can walk for 500 kilometers along the turquoise ocean and from time to time hopping over ruins from the Roman and Byzantine eras.


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    We walked beneath the shadow of Mt. Olympus, which was confusing since I thought Mt. Olympus was in Greece. Later I found out that there are like 20 Mt. Olympus’s scattered around Turkey and Greece and it seemed rather less impressive.


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    The trail climbed over jutting rocky points and dropped down to cobble-strewn beaches that we had mostly to ourselves.


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    We rested our tired dogs and Jamie started doing some weird hippi dance on the beach.


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    We rode high above Cirali to find a fissure in the earth that has been on fire for thousands of years, through countless winter storms. The idea is that this place is the inspiration for the monstrous fire-breathing animal of Greek Mythology, the Chimera, first described by Homer in The Illiad. Wisps of flame whipped at the ledges of stone, through a score of fissures climbing up the slope that became ever more luminous as darkness fell.


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    After we’d seen our share of wonders from the ancient world I was about ready to ride for the coast to see if there were any waves to ride in Turkey. We didn’t have much swell in Israel, but the waves we’d found in Greece gave me hope that I wouldn’t come up empty-handed surfing in the Mediterranean. We’d been lucky all day riding, with the rain threatening, but never delivering. But as we rode into the coastal town of Alanya, our luck ran out and rain came down in buckets soaking us to the skin. In Africa, getting caught in a rainstorm was no big deal since it was rarely very cold, but we weren’t in Africa any more and we were soon shivering in the wind with nothing to do but keep riding.


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    As we rode along the coast the next day, I was disheartened by what I saw – only the most meager waves lapping onto the shore. Before arriving to the coast I’d connected with the Alanya Surf Team (check them out on Facebook) who invited me to come for a surf at their beach. Surfers have only been riding waves for the last 5 years on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and there are still only about 10 regular surfers. These guys are among the first to ride a board on a wave on this stretch of coast.


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    Mehmet-Ali (not pictured) was the first surfer here along with Mehmet (top photo). They told me that initially the coast guard kept trying to drag them out of the water during such dangerous ocean conditions. They first had major difficulties just getting some boards here from Europe, but now they are slowly growing their local surf scene. The water isn’t very cold here, even in the winter, when the storms bring the swell, I was only wearing a 2mm short arm suit and was plenty warm enough. There is a pounding beachbreak that will give up the odd barrel here and there, innumerable peeling reefbreaks of varying quality, and a rivermouth wave. The different breaks are all in a small area and face different directions around a small point, so it’s often easy to surf where the wind is offshore. So close to Europe, it could be an ideal place for European tourists to come learn to surf rather than braving the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.


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    I’m always happy to meet a local surf crew, but I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what we were going to ride until a few hours later. Along the same stretch of beach I’d seen on the way into town, the surf had tripled in size in the space of a few hours. It was amazing. I raced over to meet Mehmet and Mehmet Ali at the surf club – a hotel run by Mehmet Ali, with boards and suits piled up on top of tables in the lobby. It felt great to jump in the water and paddle again, but it became immediately clear that I was in shocking condition. It seems that sitting on a motorcycle for months on end does not do wonders for one’s physical fitness. After an hour or so, the sun was on its way down and I looked up to the cliff that we were surfing beneath to realize that there was a huge castle perched on top of it. By then I couldn’t stop smiling. I was surfing in Turkey, under a castle.


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    The next few days the swell stayed up, and every day the guys were on top of it and sent me a message to come surf. I honestly couldn’t believe how good the waves were, by far the best I’d surfed in the Mediterranean. The waves weren’t the weak-feeling short-fetch windswelly stuff that I’d expected – they had similar punch to plenty of your average beachbreaks in California.


    Yours truly having a delightful day in the water.
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    Mehmet found some trim.


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    Cagri ducked for cover.


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    After surfing one afternoon, I was surprised to find a full camera crew assembled on the beach. Traveling surfers are still a rarity in Turkey, so much so that Mehmet had alerted the local news station to my visit and they showed up on the beach with cameras blazing. With Mehmet translating for me, I told them about the journey, what I was doing in Turkey, and what I thought about the waves in Alanya. It was all pretty funny and I got my moment of fame that night on Turkish television. Never imagined I’d be able to make such a claim.


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    Turkey really wasn’t on my radar at all for a place to come surfing, but leaving no stone unturned sometimes brings the spoils. It’s been a blast riding waves with the stoked surfers of Alanya. I got to taste again what I had loved so much about surfing in West Africa: the excitement of a new surf scene and the welcoming nature of surfers pioneering their own territory. Surfing is a great way to connect with people. No matter the cultural divides, love of riding waves binds our global tribe together, and I feel so fortunate to be reminded of that in the most unlikely of places.


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  6. Doloe2

    Doloe2 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Oddometer:
    120
    Location:
    Bellingham
    This has been/continues to be one of my favorite RRs.
    Without the surf angle it would just be another nicely written report with good pics.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing trip.:clap
  7. linksIT

    linksIT nOObie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    272
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA
    Wow:clap that last round of surf looked really fun love seeing all the wave pictures in your epic journey. The ruins and fire breathing ground are awe inspiring
  8. rms56

    rms56 Long timer

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    Alberta, Canadia
    This amazing ride just never ends :clap ... great stuff!!!!!
  9. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    Since, once again, I am [almost] beyond words...
    I'll let these guys say it all for me.
    What an amazing surprise Turkey has turned out to be.
    Who knew, right?
    :norton
  10. IceCreamSoldier

    IceCreamSoldier suffering somewhere

    Joined:
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    this is a the difference between a 23 year old surfer bombing around africa and a 37 year old. Our hero saw a wrong to right. And with a bold claim and a well written appeal to his followers, most of them unknown, he has magically raised the funds to make the well that this town so deserves. Not by Catholic Chairities, Not by the Clinton Foundatio, No by the Graham Power of the PUrse, not by unicef or Feed the Children...........but by theo power of ADVrider. I hope you do this several more times as you feel the community is worth it and the need is genuine. thank you for what you do, you are changing the lives of mqny by being yourself......... very awesomel............ good time to call your parents and thank them for raising such a smart, healthy, fun, exploring son with a sense of concience
  11. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap
    :norton :norton :norton :norton :norton

    THIS!

    Remember for those who don't know that this money not only got the well dug but there was enough left to also build a school (IIRC)!!!!!

    Was reading another ADVr RR from some Belgians who are currently in Central America. They raise money thru their blog site and donate to schools as they travel the world. :thumb

    Not sure how many times they've done this during their journeys, but They mentioned this in a recent post- so sent em a few bucks. It's great to "give back" in this way, knowing for absolute certain that nobody is skimming off the top, that every cent is going to the recipient, that your $$ are making a definite difference.
  12. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    aw shucks thanks guys. credit to the inmates for making it happen :clap:clap:clap
  13. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
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    We’d bided our time in the south of Turkey as rainstorms came and went every other day. If we’d know how high we would have to climb to get through the interior to the Black Sea, and how much we’d suffer for the cold, we may not have left the Mediterranean at all. After a day a final day riding east along the coast we turned north into the mountains. While it was cold, and we had on about every piece of clothing we were carrying, were lucky and avoided rain nearly the entire day. We were headed towards a place called Capadocia where we’d heard about a city built from caves thousands of years old.


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    We spied the white caps on the mountains in the distance and hoped that we weren’t headed straight into them. To our relief we only skirted along their sides for most of the day. Again and again I thought a descent to lower elevation was just around the corner, but with every small decent came another climb back to the snowline. The warmest gloves I had were some that I’d gotten for $5 on the street in Egypt, and they weren’t quite doing the job. At one stage two fingers on my left hand went completely numb and then ached we slowed down and they thawed out.


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    It was nearing sundown and we were almost to our stopping point for the day when we started climbing and kept climbing until we were well above the snowline. Then it started snowing. We’d never ridden in the snow. The novelty wore off quickly as my visor fogged up and the scene ahead disappeared into a gray fog. I pulled over to wipe my visor, which quickly fogged up again. I put my visor up, but the snowflakes colliding into my eyeballs stung something fierce. We were on the motorway twith a barrier along the roadside and no exits, so there was nowhere safe to pull off. The best I could do was to creep along slowly on the shoulder, stopping every kilometer or so to wipe the inside of my visor. Cars and trucks barreled out of the gray haze behind us. It felt like a totally unsafe riding situation and there was nothing to do but keep going and endure. Finally, we began to descend. We only had 10 kilometers left to ride but it was a very slow 10 kilometers. By the time we’d found a place to stay our nerves were completely fried.


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    The fates were kinder to us the next morning, with chilly air but not a cloud in sight. We rode into Capadocia to the astounding sight of an ancient high-rise condominium. We spent the next few days exploring the wonders of this place, where the ancient caves aren’t just a relic from the past, but still used as dwellings by the locals.


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    Homes, churches, and monasteries are built from rock pillars strewn throughout the region also known as hoodoo or fairy chimneys . They were formed by deposition of volcanic tuff and lava flows from nearby volcanoes many thousands of years ago. The harder volcanic rock protected softer rock directly below from weathering and erosion. Through crack and fissures in the volcanic rock, some of the material below was eroded and transported away, leaving the isolated pillars that we see today.


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    Human settlement in Cappadocia goes back to Kalkolithic age beginning 9,000 years ago and has been occupied by one civilization after another ever since. From the 5<sup>th</sup> to the 11<sup>th</sup> centuries, Capadoccia became a refuge for Christians and many of the churches here are still really well preserved.


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    It snowed for days in Cappadocia, and when it finally let up, we were happy to drop 3000 ft. of elevation riding towards the Black Sea. We in arrived at the small rocky headland about a hundred kilometers northeast of Istanbul to find a surfer’s enclave on the Black Sea.


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    They’ve been surfing about 8 years on the black sea coast –3 years longer than on the Mediterranean coast. With such a craggy coastline, looking around for surf in the area is slow going as the roads are small and seem to twist along every nook and cranny, and sometimes there isn’t much of a road yet.


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    Our host was Toggy who runs the Danube Surf Academy in this sleepy little village on the Black Sea coast. He’s former motorcycle racer turned die-hard surfer and is at the center of the surf community here in Turkey. He shapes his own surfboards, puts on youth surfing and skateboarding training events, and his daughter is a competitive surfer, regularly traveling to Europe for contests. Toggy toured us around to all the spots in the area, but we weren’t quite as lucky as we’d been on the Mediterranean coast. The local’s usual chunk of reef to find a pitching lefthander wasn’t giving up the goods today. Nonetheless, it was fantastic to have a look around another place where surfers were just beginning to discover there own coast and the waves that they have to ride there. Toggy didn't even charge us for staying at the surf house - what mate!


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    With Toggy and is daughter headed off to Portugal for a contest, we rode to Istanbul. While the rest of Turkey seemed to be empty of tourists, Istanbul was in full swing and costs were busting our budget. On April 1<sup>st</sup>, the price of our accommodation doubled and so we retreated to the Black Sea coast while waiting for some visas to process. I’d learned about a beach club near the town of Kilyos owned by a surfer called Hakan. When we stopped in to say hi to Hakan, we found that a rare subtropical cyclone had ripped the place to shreds last fall and they were still picking up the pieces.


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    The surf was dead flat for the moment anyway, but Hakan said that there was some swell on the horizon the following week. Unfortunately, the swell arrived with the storm right on top of it. With the water either a messy disaster or dead flat, we returned to Istanbul without ever riding a wave in the Black Sea. Can’t win them all.


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    Riding over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, we crossed from East to West, a bridge to Europe and back to the world more familiar for us.
  14. sunset_ryder

    sunset_ryder aka "toots"

    Joined:
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    :thumb:thumb:thumb
    Great job! Ride On!
  15. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    Thanks Gary!
    Cheers, man.
    :norton
  16. fanatic291

    fanatic291 Desert Tortoise

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    Location:
    Mesa, by Usery
    Those cave dwellings are awesome. Thanks for checking out that spot.
  17. DustyRags

    DustyRags Idiot

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    Location:
    The Beast, California
    This trip never ceases to amaze me. :clap
  18. BillUA

    BillUA Las Vegas, NV

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    717
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    Las Vegas Nevada
    Absolutely some of the most spectacular pictures to date!:clap
  19. arjones

    arjones Roads and Waves

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
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    263
    Location:
    Bahia, Brazil
    As you might know, Gary, I follow your trip on Instagram as well. Some times, fast delivered pics are an awesome thing to share with the ones by your side, in the middle of the street, at your office and so on...

    The most impressive to me is your determination to keep the stoke of surfing, while doing the kind of trip that usually isn't relate to surfing. Big props on that.

    Aside the great photos, the interest for history and people, your sensitive eye for the stoke of a rising surf scene and its "spirit of sharing the goodies" with a visitor just show us surfing isn't a sell out sport. Not yet. So, maybe the waves are not the most impressive ones... but that feeling of pioneering (or helping to) a surf spot is priceless, isn't it?

    Best regards and thank you. Day in, day out, you proved it's quite possible to unite the two passions of my life. Keep riding, in the barrels or on the black top (and sand, and dirt, and whatever keep you going places).

    Arjones.
  20. garnaro

    garnaro MotoBlunderer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Somewhere in Africa
    thanks again guys and cheers to that Jonsey.

    I didn't imagine it would be so much fun finding waves and surfers in unlikely places. Unlike most folks here on ADV I got riding bikes pretty late - just a couple years before leaving on this trip. Now riding and surfing just fit together for me and my initial apprehension about the idea seems silly. Glad to make a contribution to the stoke bank!