Return to home page. The Last Great Adventure

Silk Road Adventure 2015

Silk Road Home  |  Bike's & Bio's  |  Chapter One  |  Chapter Two  | Chapter Three  |  Chapter Four


Dispatch from Ken Southam

Visiting Turkey was very interesting and after a week in Turkey you can see that it is a country that is going through many transformations. There are the old Muslim cultural values that are at odds with the new Turkey, which has many of the same pressures as most European or North American cities. The young people in the city are rebelling against the traditional values, although women generally are covered up with scarves while in public.


Istanbul was a mix of cultures; the people were very friendly and welcoming. You see everything from Muslim women in full traditional black burka's with just a slit for their eyes to normal western dressed women not unlike most cities in North America or Europe.


I obviously look foreign and as such, you attract many young men asking you to come visit their families shop (more often a rug stores and but some clothing or sovereign stores) just because you are near the Mosques or Palaces etc., not unlike mosquitos to fresh Canadian flesh in the spring. I had a traditional Turkish bath that was nice and an interesting experience, but not something that I would rush out to do again anytime soon.


The Tour of Turkey bike race just happened to be on its last stage race through the old city of Istanbul on the Sunday we were in Istanbul, so I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the finish by the Blue Mosque.


They say that one can live comfortably on $10,000 US a year in Turkey and much more like a king if you make $20,000 or more. This may be the case but cars are very expensive with huge luxury tax on premium cars. A luxury car that sells in Canada for say $70,000 sells in Turkey for around $300,000 after tax is added. The city has over 2 million cars and not enough places to park, so parking is also very expensive. Gas is around $8.00 US a gallon or $2.25 a litre. Istanbul is a city that suffers from huge gridlock through most of the business day and parking is scarce and at a premium especially in the old city.


There are over 70,000 mosques in Turkey and they all call Muslims to prayer 5 times a day starting between 4:30 – 5:00 am and finishing at around 9:30 pm every day. You soon get used to the Imam’s callings to prayer all slightly after one another and it sounds like a wave of callings as the calls come across the city.


Generally there is a fairly relaxed atmosphere everywhere. We did clear customs for our motorcycles in record time with us being out of customs with our motorcycles in 5 hours. On previous Globeriders trips, it has always been almost 2 days before the bikes finally cleared customs. There was one bike that was flown here and it took a full 12 hours to get the paperwork done before that bike was released from customs for the trip. From 9 am to 9 pm before it could be driven to the hotel. The first day was a day of many smiles as everyone got their bikes and headed back to the hotel. Boys and our toys :)


Once you travel out into the countryside you see a different side of Turkey where the pace seems even more relaxed and farmers tend their crops and shepherds tend the sheep goats or cows on open ranges. There are few fences to keep the livestock in a field. You see shepherds, mostly men, herding the sheep, goats or cows as they eat by the side of the road or in fields immediately adjacent to the road. Sometimes you will see a women shepherding the livestock but it definitely more rare. It is not uncommon to see tractors slowly going down the road on a 4 lane hi-way pulling a wagon that has several women heading to the nearest town to go shopping or to a mosque. Other times you see tractors driving down the road by a man with a women sitting on the fender going to the fields with there husband.


Language is often a barrier but surprisingly a bunch of hand signals and some pointing you generally find or get what you want. The roads in Turkey were the biggest surprise. The current president has built over 17,000 km of roads in the last 5 years and you have lots of good hi-ways that generally are very lightly used. You may not see another car for ½ kilometer and apart from the major cities the roads are surprising empty (like 6 am Sunday in North America). The Turks do drive like they own the whole road and one often has to remind Turkish drivers that, you to want to share part of that 4 lane road by using your horn. This will wake up the wandering driver and they sometimes will move over so that you can safely pass. It is not uncommon to see drivers driving slowly 60-70 km/hr. gradually weaving all over the road from the paved shoulder back and forth across the road meanwhile talking on their cell phone. This coupled with slow moving farm machinery means you have to be alert all the time.


We have stayed in a couple of camel hotels (Caravan Serai’s) that are very unique, and at one time they were every 20 miles along the Silk Road, as this is how far a camel could travel in one day. The camel hotels have a courtyard where the camels would stay and the rooms are around the exterior sides on two or three floors.


We visited the cave houses in Cappadocia and after a rain delay day we managed to get in a sunrise hot air balloon ride before we moved on to Amasya and Trabzon, Turkey before arriving in Batumi Georgia on Tuesday 12th May.











Dispatch from Joe Hutt

Istanbul, I got there from Germany riding 2500 miles through beautiful country. Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Greece. But the real journey starts here.

I met Dean the first day I arrived and we began exploring the local sites. Istanbul is everything people have said about it. The food, The culture and the diversity are all amazing. We set off from there by ferry to the mainland and were introduced to Turkish riding on entering Bursa. This was a city of hills. I was walking around down a steep hill when I noticed a car in the street with 2 women in it, they were franticly gesturing to me. Their parking brake was stuck on and they couldn’t budge it. I reached across the driver and yanked on it getting them free. They were off with big smiles and thanks.


That’s how all of the people seem to be, welcoming and friendly and extremely helpful. The riding became better and was awesome on the way to Cappadocia. What a place 11,000 churches carved out of volcanic rock.


The best day was the last full day in Turkey riding on great mountain roads through spectacular scenery, I met up with Kurt and we proceeded to pair up the rest of the trip. Through mountain twistees to dirt road passes to a high mountain pass and down a high speed beautiful road to a mountain top monastery in the rain, just the last part.


That’s my idea of a tour with Helge, this being my 5th it’s what I’ve come to expect. I’ll put some pictures with this and until next time I wish everyone well.











Dispatch from John Riley

Wow, the last two weeks have been wild. So much preparation went into finally making it to this point. The first time I stepped onto the plane in Kansas City seems like ages ago. The time we spent in Turkey was wonderful. I did not, but would recommend coming to Turkey before the trip and spending some time in Istanbul. It’s a wonderful place, easy to get around and just plane fun.


The trip itself has been great. The riding has been very good. I did not expect the roads to be as good as the are. They are under construction and you do have to dodge animals but its been fun. I took a class from RawHyde before coming on this trip and I am really glad I did. The off road riding has not happened yet, but I do think its helped me in the city driving.


One cannot explain what that is really like. My understanding is it will only get more crazy.


Hotels have been a lot better than expected. Its really nice to ride all day long and then settle into a nice hotel. We are just a couple of days into Georgia, but it has been interesting to see the differences between the two countries.


For a history buff, which I’m not, I would think this ride would be at the top of many lists. From a riding experience, its awesome.









Dispatch from Gary Schmidt

Turkey - Absolutely the most friendly and helpful people I think I have ever met. The country is beautiful and we have rode some amazing roads but for me the people were the highlight of the time I spent there. We had one bike that had a broken alternator belt and the local people in the town they were in couldn’t have been more helpful, and they wouldn’t accept any money for their help. Any Turk that knows any English at all wants to know what we are doing, where we are going, and some ask how much does the bike cost.


I’ve run into a couple of Turks who want to show pictures on their iPhone of places in Turkey that I should visit. They are truly wonderful people.

I was awaken every morning between 4:45 AM and 5:00AM at the call to prayer which is blasted from the speakers on the minarets. There are 5 calls to prayer every day and you can hear it almost everywhere. Most of the mosques, especially the bigger ones, are beautiful. The super large ones in Istanbul are architectural masterpieces. Just a trip to Turkey alone is well worth it. The historic remains we saw go back to the bronze age.

Cappadocia is like another world. The geology that has been carved out by mother nature is like no where else on earth. We had a hot air ballon ride over this incredible sight.


Georgia - Georgia is much more than I ever expected. Our first night was spent in Batumi on the Black Sea. We walked around the city and you could see how the government is trying to remake the city into a beautiful place. When Georgia was part of the USSR the old buildings were not all that worth looking at, to put it nicely. But many of the buildings are being rebuilt to encourage tourism. Batumi has the the Black Sea and casinos to attract tourists from around the area.


In Turkey the drivers will fill any space you leave open. In Georgia they will take your space. Just crossing the border and you experience a difference in the drivers’ attitude.


We’ve had a lot of rain which calls for greater attention when riding but it hasn’t dampened the spirits of the group. We are having a ball and can’t wait for the next chapter to open.




dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g


Dispatch from John McKittrick

Helge tells me the deadline is approaching for the first dispatch from the Silk Road to go out. So once again I am caving to peer pressure. But, it will be short.


The people of Turkey are wonderful. They are kind and generous - as long as they are not behind the wheel of a car. The traffic in Istanbul is absolute chaos! The historic architecture is magnificent! Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome & the Blue Mosque alone are worth the trip. Hagia Sophia was built between 523-527 AD - try doing that in the current construction market. We had plenty of opportunity to have tea & buy carpet. We went to the Grand Bazaar, which was a mass of human flesh all moving in various directions. I decide that when one comes to Turkey, one must have a Turkish bath. So I overcame the fear of having another guy wash me & did it - once is enough. Turkey seems very cosmopolitan in the cities while the countryside is very traditional Islamic. Women wear burkas & labor in the fields using hand tools. Farming is quite primitive although there seems to be quiet a few tractors.


Our ride took us from Istanbul through Bursa & Safronbolu, the home of saffron. From there we went on to Cappadocia where we partook in the famous balloon ride across the city. And were treated to a dance ritual by a group known as the Whirling Dervish. This is a sect of Islam that, according to Kaz (our Turkish guide) are the “hippies” of Islam.


The land formations are fascinating. People hollowing out soft volcanic rock to make homes. We also went to an underground city that had been built by the early Christians as a means of defense from invaders. They basically moved into the tunnels where food water & other supplies were hidden to wait out the attackers. They also moved some of their animals into the maze. I have found out the hard way that people were much smaller in those days. A couple of the places where we stayed, while nice, had roughly 6 foot doors. A lot of knocks on the head that are just healing up.


Several days of our riding have been in heavy rain and of course we were unable to see any of the countryside we were riding through. The forecast for tomorrow in Tbilisi, Georgia, is OK but then we will have blue skies and sunshine for the next few days.





Dispatch from Ian Craigie

My ride started a little earlier than the rest of the group. In my mind the Silk Road starts in Venice (its a Marco Polo thing), so in the middle of April me and my bike got on an airplane in Vancouver BC and flew to Gatwick England. A few days around London to help shed the jet lag then rode onto the Chunnel train and I was on my way across Europe. 2-weeks and 3000 miles later I arrived in Istanbul after traveling through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Western Turkey. And the last 10-minutes took an hour as I sat in stand still rush hour traffic with the hotel in site but unable move.


After a few days in Istanbul our first day on the road started bright and early with brief ride to a ferry that would get us around the infamous traffic. We then enjoyed an eye opening introduction to just what riding a motorcycle in Turkey is all about. I have to admit that in preparation for this trip I hadn't given as much thought to Turkey as I had the other places we would be going. Turkey was the place we were starting from, it was never a destination. After leaving Istanbul I found myself reevaluating that position. This place and the people that live here are extraordinary.


As we traveled from town to town, I don’t think there wasn’t a Grand Bazaar that we missed. It got the point where I started thinking that maybe the tour name should be changed from the Silk Road Adventure to the Ancient Malls Of Asia Shoppalooza.






Dispatch from Kurt Durrant

Tales from the trail.


We have completed our first few weeks of travel on our Silk Road Adventure. 


Turkey in a single word, fabulous: fabulous people, fabulous roads (on and off) and fabulous scenery.  We really hated to leave as we could have spent months there.  We left many roads and regions of the country for next time. Weather was on our side with only one afternoon in the wet.  A most memorable experience starting in one of the most dynamic cities, Istanbul.


On to Georgia, alas we have not been as lucky with the moisture.  Two days of back to back rain which keeps the country side extremely lush also did a job on our apparel and our spirits.  The weather report is looking better for tomorrow and off to Armenia. 


More next time.




dtg g g


Dispatch from Marty Kromer and Bill Shea

We left JFK on a night flight to Istanbul. At 2:00 am we started to see many lighted isolated cities below us. Then we flew over The City of Lights. A wonderful way to start the trip. The sun was just rising in Istanbul as we landed.


It has very quickly become apparent that superlatives and exclamation points are going to be excessive in trying to describe this trip. For brevity we will leave them out. Perhaps while reading it would be more complete to insert many more than you think appropriate.

Hagia Sophia is a giant pile of geometric shapes from the outside. Inside it is a harmonious uplifting space. One can now only imagine the golden flickering light of the hundreds/thousands of oil lamps. The natural light and yellow electric light enhance both the Byzantine mosaics and the Muslim script. The huge main domed space is balanced by the smaller surrounding arched spaces. The walls are a mixture of various colored stones and painted stones. One can now only imagine the added color and texture of prayer rugs covering the stone floor. The effect is sumptuous not garish.




The Blue Mosque is slightly smaller. The overpowering beautiful aspect for me (Marty) is the blue Iznik tiles depicting tulips. The entire structure is an architectural image of the gardens of Paradise. It is a space of deep peace. The gardens that surround the Mosque are disappointing. By Brandywine Valley standards they are unimaginative. It is interesting that the building is so evocative of The Garden but the physical garden is not.




We experienced the call to prayer at different times of day and different places in the city. A favorite place is the space between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The singers at each time their phrasing to answer each other. They are also, as you might expect, the best singers we have heard. We have been told that all calls to prayer at all Mosques are live, not recorded.


We viewed a small, gemlike Sinan Mosque. The architect of the Blue Mosque was his student. The student did not surpass the master. This mosque is exceedingly graceful and any other complementary description you might want to add. It also has perfect acoustics. Again beautiful Iznik tiles, inside and out evoke the gardens of Paradise. Again, the gardens outside, this time on a terrace, were well below world standards.




We saw many beautiful gardens on the square between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque and at the Topaki Palace. The Turks know how to garden. They have the climate, the flora and the expertise.




We will come to Istanbul again. The architecture, history, culture, food, markets, crafts, diversity, spirituality and people exceed any other city we have ever visited. One feels at the center of the world, where East meet West.


It is a great (insert a mountain of superlatives here) joy to be on the rig again, traveling together and experiencing how (more superlatives) our world and people in it are. The rides have been wonderful, nice mix of twisting mountain roads and some highways to move things along. By our standards people drive very aggressively here. They will wave, honk their approval of our rig, the kids will lean out the windows and smile and then...the driver will cut us off. Fortunately the rig is handling beautifully.


Cappadocia exceeded all expectations. Beautiful gardens are tucked into all the spaces between the architectural and carved stones spaces in the areas where we stayed. The sunrise balloon ride is a must do for every traveller.




We had our breakdown early on this trip.. The alternator belt broke. Fortunately we have a car battery on the rig so we had enough power to get us to Bolu where we quickly found help. A truck driver at a gas station immediately dropped what he was doing to show us where the auto repair area was in town. The mechanic at the battery store also helped us immediately. Two guys happened to be riding by on R1150's. They stopped and offered to go back home because one of them happened to have a spare alternator belt. We were quickly back on the road and at the hotel in time for a shower and dinner. We sincerely hope that a foreign non native speaking traveller in the United States who needs help will be treated as well as we have been by the Turkish people. Of course everyone that helped us immediately offered us tea to make sure we were comfortable and then after they had fixed the rig would not except payment of any kind.


We attended a Sufi service in a caravanaray, a bed and breakfast stop for merchants and their camels on the Silk Road. The camels would have been kept in the central courtyard or enclosed stables while the sleeping rooms for the merchants surround this space. The mystical practices of Sufism have a special appeal.


Bill and Marty



Bill Shea's Photo Gallery



Bill Shea also is posting his photo's daily on his Twitter feed: @sidecarmonkey


dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg   g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g


Dispatch from Jim Mattison

Riding in Turkey


At first glance, riding in Turkey is just like riding at home: they drive on the right and nobody notices motorcycles. How hard can it be? Where a street joins another one, there is often a red octagonal sign that says "DUR". It looks like a stop sign and I assume it is. Except that no one stops. If the way is clear and you try and stop, someone will just go around you.

Drivers follow really closely. It was explained to me that North Americans have lots of space so they leave room between vehicles. But Turkey is smaller and more crowded so they use all the space. In any case if you leave a reasonable space between you and the vehicle in front, someone will pull into it.

All drivers honk their horns often. Sometimes it means "Hi, nice to see you". Sometimes it means "I see you and I am going to pass". And sometimes it just means "I am frustrated, somebody move". But they are not being rude. This is just the car culture here. Drivers are fast, aggressive, and lane marking lines are treated as a guide only. However, the people are friendly and helpful. Get lost or fall over (as some of us have) and someone will always come over to help.

Turkey is a great ride. Really.






Dispatch from David Dardaris

I arrived in Istanbul a few days early in order to revisit a few of the places that I had seen 45 years ago when I was stationed about 65 miles west of here with the US Coast Guard. First impression of the city is that it’s a lot bigger and and more crowded than it used to be. Several fellow GlobeRiders were also here early, so spent my time exploring with them. The old sites we visited (St Sophia’s, the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Grand Bazar) were the same as 45 years ago, although with much larger crowds of tourists milling about. Revisited the Galata Bridge, it’s bigger than I remember and also much busier.

We picked up our bikes from customs on Monday with minimal waiting, then had a free day on Tuesday before departing Istanbul Wednesday. Those who hadn’t arrived early took a tour of Istanbul on Tuesday, I decided to take a ride to the site of the Coast Guard station. I was joined by John Riley and Kurt for the ride. The road west from Istanbul, which used to be a small 2 lane road passing through several small villages along the way is now a busy highway lined with businesses almost the whole way. The small villages are now big towns. The farm fields that used to surround the station have been replaced by a lot of houses, but we found the Coast Guard station with the help of a local policeman. He spoke very little English, but pulled out his smart phone and opened up a translation app so we could ask him questions. He didn’t have a clue about the station, but escorted us around to a construction crew who are now building something else on the old CG site. He talked to them, and came back to confirm that this was indeed the place we were looking for. He insisted on taking pictures of us and he and his partner with his phone. We took pictures too, and upon returning to our hotel later that evening we swapped pictures via WhatsApp, and he thanked me for my service there 45 years ago and said he was happy to help.

The next few days were my introduction to actually driving or riding in Turkey and showed me a lot more of the country than I had seen 45 years ago. Highlights were riding on tight twisty mountain roads, not always well paved, and driving through small villages that looked like what I remembered. Sightseeing and an early morning balloon ride in Cappadocia to see the strange rock formations with houses and churches carved into the soft stone hillsides.

On to Trabzon with some of the nicest roads on the trip so far. Stopped to see the Sumela Monastery just before Trabzon, but had no spectacular views of the Monastery from the distance due to very heavy fog and a light drizzle in the air. Did go inside and get some pictures though.

Into Georgia the next day. Interesting place - a combination of very old churches and town walls, 18th and 19th century buildings, shabby looking Soviet era apartments and a lot of very new hotels, casinos and businesses to attract tourism.





Dispatch from Helge


After months of preparations we are finally on the road following the Silk road from Istanbul to Xian, China. It is a wonderful feeling every day to pack up the bike in the morning before heading out for a new destination.

I am in particular happy with my new bike, a BMW R1200GS Adventure 2015 model. I have already put about 25,000 miles on a BMW R1200GS 2013 model and have found the bike to be very capable. The Adventure version is even better for my use guiding GlobeRiders Adventures around the world. Obviously the larger tank is very nice to have the extended range, but more than anything I am very excited about the addition of the Touratech Plug & Travel Dynamic Suspension. After about 2,000 miles I can already say that the shocks have performed very nice. The ride feels very smooth and to have the full function of electronic adjustments is just excellent. The shocks are both made the way that they can be overhauled opposed to the original BMW shocks. To me it make so much sense to have shocks that one can change oil and potentially seals in between big journeys. From past experiences the BMW supplied shocks just do not cut it, they will fail if you ride loaded and off-road. I have seen this over and over again, original BMW shocks giving up when the rough roads enter in to the itinerary.





Another highlight with the new water-cooled GS is the all new BMW Navigator V GPS. To learn more about the GPS you can read Dan Townsley’s excellent article here. All that I want to say about this GPS unit is that it has changed the way I navigate using a scroll wheel on the left side of the handlebar. Having this ability to zoom in and out of the map by using my left hand thumb is just brilliant.





We have just started this journey so stay tuned to hear what my experience is further down the road.


On this journey we also have several water-cooled boxer BMW’s so it will be nice to see how they perform. Another test that I am eager to see the outcome off is the all new Continental TKC70 tire that several riders is using. This seem to be a great touring tire, but we will not know this before we learn first hand how many miles that one can squeeze out of it though. Performance wise it seems like the group riding the TKC70 has had a positive experience so far.


Thanks for tuning in to this journal, enjoy the report from members of the group and feel free to write us if you have any questions or inputs.


Thanks for checking in.


Helge Pedersen


Helge's Photo Gallery



dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
dtg g g
ddg dg dbg
dbg gb gbwb
gb gb gb
gb gb bgbw
gbw wwb arg
ardg g tbg
terbg tgt rtg
btb btrb tgert
rtegret ertg teg
ergeqrtg ertg rteg
ertg arg qerg

Copyright © 2009 GlobeRiders, LLC ®.  All rights reserved.