Well Day 35 turned out very different than expected. I started off wandering around Corlu looking for somewhere to get a SIM card so I could get mobile data for my 2 1/2 weeks in Turkey. Turns out there are phone shops everywhere, score. But nobody really speaks any English. Challenge accepted. After lot of slow talking, pointing, hand waving and nodding I emerged victorious with a SIM with 3GB of data for a month for around £16 (most of that is for the SIM, not the data). I’ve heard reports of SIMs being blocked after a couple of weeks to prevent foreign phones being used without importing them, but that shouldn’t affect me.
I grabbed some breakfast from a confectionery place, they are everywhere in Corlu, cakes and fried things in syrup. As I checked out my route for the day I planned to head down to the bottom of the Gallipoli Peninsular, there’s a couple of camp spots on iOverlander and it looks easy to find a nice beach spot.
I took some pretty bog standard roads down to Tekirdag to start off and then spotted a coast road on the map that would get me there. It looked small and slow, but I had plenty of time, water and food so I went for it. It went unpaved for about 10 minutes with road works signs but then soon returned to decent tarmac again. I rolled through some really small farming towns and then it was out into the hills. The road deteriorated fast, the tarmac started to get patchier and patchier until it was just a gravel road for about 20 minutes. It was quite fun, I was getting used to Donkey moving and sliding around underneath me and getting more comfortable leaning it over on the dirt and letting it slide out a little.
Then the steering went all heavy and it was really hard to lean over. Oh shit. I knew what it was straight away. I’ve never had a puncture before but there’s nothing else that would cause that feeling. My stomach dropped, I was miles away from a town that had any chance of having a garage. Luckily there was a nice flat spot with shade just up ahead so I pulled over and checked it out. There was a nice big hole in the rear tyre, about diameter of a pen. I chucked all my bike gear off to cool down and think about it. I was obviously going to try and repair it first, but I was coming up with back up plans too. Better to think through all your options before you start throwing tools at it and making it worse.
I put some air in the tyre to see how fast it was running down. It wouldn’t get above 15 PSI and wouldn’t hold that for more than a couple of minutes before it was out again, and that was with no weight on the tyre at all. Bugger. No chance of limping to a garage, I got out the Dynaplug puncture repair kit (I don’t name many brands or names of hotels and such on this blog on purpose, but I’m naming this one because it was awful, and you should avoid it). I had 4 seals, the first seal broke when I tried to put it in the tool. Great. The second one I got into the tyre fine, but the hole was way too big. So after a little struggling getting them in the tool, I got seals 3 and 4 shoved in there as well. I left them a little while to bond with the rubber and then tried pumping a little. It held some but I could here a slight squeak from the seals. As the pressure went up it got a bit louder. I squished the outside of the seals around the hole and it stopped. So I was using them basically like a sealing putty. Not great when I have to ride on them.
At this point you’re supposed to trim off the excess down to the tyre so it’s flat, but doing that would mean it was still leaking a lot. So I pumped it up as far as it would get and geared up to go. I spun around and rode back down the track as quick as I could on the gravel, I was racing against loosing pressure to get to a town to repair it properly. It turned out that was about 30 minutes ride away so I had to stop twice more before the town to do around 5 minutes of pumping to get pressure back in.
I should add by “pumping” I mean using the Dynaplug micro inflator. I mention this name, because it’s awesome. Poor thing never overheated or complained with all the pumping. It was expensive and I thought I’d regret spending so much on it, but it saved my bacon.
I made it to a town and started pointing frantically at my tyre to the locals who pointed me around the town in circles until I spotted the garage that was closed. Oh well. A truck pulled up behind me and I pointed to the tyre again then to the garage. He pointed onto the motorway and just said “shell”. Ah. A shell garage on the motorway, of course, they usually have garages attached to them out here. I pumped up as much as I could and did about 30 mph down the motorway to the Shell garage. They didn’t have a garage attached but they did have a high power air outlet. I pumped up to 40 PSI and got back on the motorway. That got me another few miles before I had to pump again. About 30 minutes and a few more pumps later I made it back to the outskirts of Tekirdag. My tyre was flat but I spotted another Shell garage and pulled in to use the inflator again to get me to the city centre and a bike mechanic, but I noticed a car garage attached so I rolled around the back to see them.
A guy came walking up straight away and shook my hand, I later found out he was a biker too, which is why he was happy to see me. I pointed to the tyre and once he saw the hole he shot off to get some tools. Happy days, he knows what he’s doing. He started plugging with some big Tyre Seal things, much larger sturdier versions of what I’d tried to use. He used the biggest he had but it wasn’t holding pressure. He used Google Translate to tell me to wheel it into the garage so he could “dismantle the tyre”. Errrr OK then. So that’s how I ended up with 5 car mechanics who didn’t speak English trying to figure out how to get my rear wheel off. I’d never done it before but I figured I had more of an idea than they did so I stepped in and started working. They understood what was going on and just helped me get it all off. It was great, no English required, just pointing and shared mechanical understanding.
The biker guy got to repairing the rubber using patches on the inside while I tried to chat with some of the other guys. It didn’t go very well, just lots of pointing at Donkey and asking questions. I don’t think they understood fully at first when I said I was riding to New Zealand, but after a bit of explaining they were laughing about it. Some more frantic work trying to get the wheel back on and then the axle lined up and chain tension right. That was something I was a little worried about, having never taken the rear wheel off I’d never had to align the axle and chain tension from scratch, but it went fine, no wobbles or pulling.
Once we finished tightening everything up and cleaning ourselves up we went to the cafe next door and he got me a Turkish Tea, the first one I’ve had, and it’s lovely, like a strong flavoured tea in a small cup with no milk and some sugar. We both just sat and laughed about what we’d just been doing and relaxed a bit. We used a little Google Translate to talk and I showed him the Facebook page Blog to show him what I was up to. If you’re reading this, you’re a saviour.
Now I was back on the road I really wasn’t sure where to head to. It was about 5pm now and I needed to get the ferry to Çardak tomorrow. I was knackered after all the action, non-stop for the last 4 hours, and it had kicked off after a 90 minute stint on the bike. The worst thing was I’d missed lunch! Sacrilege! I was tempted to stay in Tekirdag, it would be stopping earlier than normal though, in an expensive place (it’s a big city) and then a much longer ride tomorrow. I decided just to push on to Gallipoli ready for the ferry tomorrow and just relax on the bike.
I didn’t want to do more than 50mph on the motorway, the tyre might be holding pressure now but it still had holes in the rubber, ready to shred themselves wider. So it was a fairly relaxing ride down there. I rolled in to town about 7pm and started searching for a hotel, there weren’t many that didn’t look fancy, but I found the least fancy hotel in existence. It was like a solitary confinement cell in every way, but it was only £10 and right next to the port which suited me perfectly. I got out my sleeping mattress, sleeping blanket and my blow up pillow, not wanting to touch anything on that bed…
A little walk around town for some good Turkish food, donner, it’s always donner at the minute, there seems to be no other form of food. Then off to bed, well, the cell.