Reader Ride: Turkey Antalya to the Aegean

Text: Patrick Barbar • Photography: Patrick Barbar

If you were to ask me to pinpoint when it all started, I would have to think back to one night a few years ago. I was flipping through channels looking for something to watch and that’s when I saw them, those two British actors riding their R 1200 GS bikes “the long way round” the world. That’s when my obsession with motorcycle travel started.

Sure, I had owned a bike before then, a 1999 V-Star 1100 that I regularly rode through the Canadian Rockies, a mere seven hours from my Saskatchewan home. But now I had images of discovering foreign lands and people on two wheels. My fixation on the matter was such that I somehow managed to talk my wife into learning to ride in preparation for a trip I had yet to plan.

Being a regular guy, there was no way I would be riding around the world any time in the near future, so I finally settled on Turkey, a land that has the mystique of the Middle East while still basking in the relative comfort of Europe. The trip was set for May and was part of a larger one that also had us visiting Germany and Syria. We would, however, only be riding motorcycles in Turkey.

We arrived in Antalya, Turkey, late in the evening and were met at the airport by the owner of a motorcycle rental shop. He whisked us off to his office to complete the paperwork for the set of Honda Transalps we had booked.

We were off first thing the next morning, heading east along the Mediterranean coast on a twisty, single-lane highway that made its way along the jagged cliffs that make up most of the coastline in that area. On the map, I had planned out a route to the city of Osmaniye, 400 miles away. Not very far by North American standards; I estimated eight or nine hours of travel time, a piece of cake for our first day in the saddle.

The condition of the road surface itself was good on this awkwardly narrow and hilly road. However, the sheer number of hairpin turns and trucks so overloaded with goods that they could only manage about 20 mph uphill meant that we averaged about 40 mph along most of the route and were forced to continuously pass heavy vehicles while staring down at the Mediterranean on our right. For this reason, the ride actually ended up taking about 13 hours. In retrospect, an overnight stop in Silifke or Mersin would have made all the difference. The ride though, was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2012 back issue.