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Dispatch from Frank Leonard

The Silk Road. Those two words certainly conjure up visions. We started our journey on the first day of Ramadan so I had to take a photo that night of the Sultanahmet Mosque which is commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque.

A trip, whether local or foreign, is even more rewarding when one can interact with the local people. One special person I met came along unexpectedly in Turkey. Gord, Rob and I stopped at a roadside cafe and the proprietor, a man we later learned was named "The Arab", greeted us with a smile as wide as the sky. Neither of us could speak each others language and our phones had no service so we couldn't use Goigle translate, thankfully. We motioned that we wanted to drink chai and eat. He brought me to his fridge and pointed to the Tupperware containers and I gave him the thumbs up. He prepared for us three panini sandwiches on his prized panini machine that were filled with pepperoni, cheese and tomato, onions and green peppers. They were perfect! He actually wanted to give us a whole loaf of bread each but we only wanted half so he used his tape measure to make sure! He showed us his sign which is pictured below. Our guide, Kaz, translated it for me:


In the name of God, the merciful and compassionate.
--- My dear lady and gentlemen travelers, first of all, welcome...
--- The Arab's place is your second home and you should all know this.
--- You can eat all the food you brought with you here "with comfort."
--- Please make yourselves at home.
--- If I have erred or have made a mistake, I apologize.
--- If you liked it here, please come back.
--- Have a great trip. May your journey be "fluid" like water.


Meeting the "Arab" was a treat.


Another aspect to any ride are the surprises in routes. Globeriders usually has one or two alternate routes that can be taken. Sometimes these are more technical or longer with more scenery. Helge is great at explaining the alternates and he provides these as GPS tracks as part of every trip. On one alternate track we were told the road had been paved four years ago and sure enough as Gord, bill, Pablo and I found, it was great pavement all the way to the top of the mountain range and then the track disappeared as we flew along the pavement. Realizing something was strange, Gord and I made a u-turn and back tracked until we saw the track reappear on our GPS units. The track appeared to go up a steep dirt incline and over the top of the mountain. We looked at each other, I shrugged my shoulders and powered up the slope with Gord right behind. At the top there was a hairpin turn and it became steeper and rutty but the GPS was indicating I was on track so we kept going and it turned out to be miles of twisty, rutty, steep mountain dirt which came out into a delightful valley and coursed through many tiny villages. I took a selfie of our ear to ear grins. What a totally fun day.


This trip has been consistently full of such serendipitous moments.



Frank's Gallery







Dispatch from Tom Botz

On this GlobeRiders journey we are riding our motorcycles along the ancient Silk Road, from Istanbul, Turkey to Xian, China. The Silk Road is the name for the old network of trading routes connecting East to West that for many hundreds of years facilitated not just the exchange of merchandise (such as silk and spices) but also the spread of ideas, languages, cultures and religions.


Growing up in Europe or in North America, the history of civilization we are taught starts with ancient Greece and leads to the Romans, Europe, the Industrial Revolution and then the US. Our maps have Europe or the Americas as their center. But before all that there were much older cultures that actually placed the center of the world to the East, in the region bridging East and West, linking Europe with the Pacific Ocean, roughly from the eastern Mediterranean to the Himalayas. This is the crossroads of civilization, the place where civilization was born, where great metropolises were established nearly 5,000 years ago, thousands of years before Europe started to develop. Interestingly, due to globalization, many of the cities on the Silk Road are today once again growing much faster than cities in Europe or even the US.


This is my third trip with Helge in as many years. Once again we have a great group. We started out in Istanbul, a world-class city of surprising wealth and sophistication. With 15 million people, it is the largest city in Europe, but what really makes it interesting its that part of it also lies across the Bosporus in Asia. It literally straddles two continents. It was a great place to spend a few days getting used to the time change.


The goods were carried on the Silk Road by camels, and rest stops (“caravanserai") for the traders and their camels were placed approximately every 25 miles or so. Some of these caravanserai have recently been converted into hotels and we’ve already stayed at two of these.


Riding through the countryside here is quite similar to riding through Germany or France, with the occasional mosque thrown in. We spent a couple of days in Cappadocia, which has a striking volcanic landscape, and took a balloon ride. Our hotel rooms were literally carved into the mountain side.


We visited the ancient ruins of Hattusas, capital city of the Hittites, 1,800 BC, mentioned in the Bible.


It was a pleasure to spend several days riding east, from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, with the beautiful Caucasus mountains to our left (north); Russia is on the other side of these mountains. We ended up in Baku, on the Caspian Sea.



Tom's Gallery






Dispatch from Bill Whitacre

It’s with a sense of relief that it was warm enough for me to keep my face shield up on my helmet as I left the children’s home in Tbilisi. My emotions got the best of me as I played back the experience of taking bicycles, toys and sharing the motorcycles with these children. I would’ve really been fogged up if the shield was down.

Helge Pedersen had visited this children’s home on one of his previous journeys through this fantastic area of Tbilisi, Georgia. On the previous trip, he brought gifts and he brought us along this time.

A few of us rode the GSA 1200’s to share with the kids and a few came in the van loaded with toys and bicycles. Arriving under the assumption that the kids knew we were coming to visit, I was surprised at how calm and orderly they were upon our arrival. As the bicycles and big bags of toys were unloaded, I almost felt that all of this was overwhelming for them...with further thought...of course it was overwhelming. Motorcycles arriving their home bringing gifts probably doesn’t happen very often unless Helge is in the country!

The next couple of hours was one of the most rewarding days that we have had on The Silk Road. We took photos with the kids on the bikes, we played with them and the toys and we helped them with the bicycles. Then we took a group photo and presented all of them with some funds that we collected among our team. It was so gratifying.

I left thinking about the oldest girl there. I am guessing that she was around sixteen and she had beautiful eyes, dyed blonde hair and a cell phone. When we arrived, she hung back and seemed curious but emotionless. Before we left, she was getting her photo on my motorcycle and wearing the helmet. Big smiles took over and I got emotional as she was taking selfies with my helmet on her head. As we left, I made it a point to give her a thumbs up from my handlebars and her smile gave me hope for her future.


I left with tears in my eyes and I was glad that I wasn’t fogging up my face shield.



Bill's Gallery





Helge's Photo Gallery



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