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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 18 Mar 2009

Location: Launceston, Australia

The idea for this crazy adventure began on the evening of Thursday 11th October, 2007, when Anne and I were sitting in the restaurant of the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with our good friends Mike and Denise Ferris. We had just finished a memorable week exploring BC, and we were discussing what the next big adventure might be. For the umpteenth time Mike tried to convince me to join him on one of his motorcycle tours, as he had been trying to do since starting his Ferris Wheels travel company years ago. Motorcycles had always terrified me, so his attempts at persuasion had always been in vain. This time it felt different, and I began to consider it as a possibility, having just driven all through France and Ireland in a hire car, and enjoyed the most fantastic journey in Europe and Canada. Mike said Anne could ride in the support vehicle and still join his tour – all I had to do was learn to ride a motorbike (gulp!). From all the tours in his portfolio, Mike’s recommendation for a first-time rider ... was Turkey.

As I procrastinated over the next four months, Mike gave me a gift for my 50th birthday in February 2008 ... a very good, and very shiny and very black, motorcycle helmet. Some friend, eh? Talk about "gentle persuasion" - as subtle as a sledgehammer! So I undertook the Motorcycle Learner’s Course in March 2008, which was my first time ever in control of a motorbike; then bought a 2nd-hand Suzuki 400; clocked up the k’s on an L plate; and then passed my Provisional License on 7th February, 2009. Phew, just the lead-up to this trip has been an adventure in itself.

Leaving on March 31st, we spend a few days in Vienna courtesy of cheap airfares with Austrian Airlines, then three weeks in Turkey from April 7th. France and Ireland was Anne’s dream in 2007 – this one’s mine.
(By the way, our account of France, Ireland, London and Canada in 2007 still appears below.)

24th March
As the trip draws nearer, I am spending many hours "in the saddle", so to speak, getting as much bike time as possible. My nerves have now given way to nervous anticipation of the fantastic trip ahead, perhaps similar to the expectations prior to driving a hire car around France and Ireland in 2007. Back then, I had to quickly adapt to driving on the right-hand side of the road, and Turkey should be no different, only this time I will have half as many wheels beneath me.
Last Sunday I did my longest day on a bike - 383 kilometers - a good dress rehearsal for a typical day in Turkey. Thanks to Joe for being my mentor on this epic ride to the East Coast of Tassie.
Another acknowledgment must go to actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, as their “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” series served as an inspiration for this trip. I won’t even pretend to consider my journey to be as adventurous as theirs, but their attitude to pushing the boundaries, exploring new cultures and a quest for living life was a spark for me wanting to do this.
We have house sitters arranged, have my International Drivers License, travel insurance is good, travel documents photocopied, all accommodation confirmed, Anne's already packed, and I will pack at the last minute (I was still wearing riding gear daily).