“Like a good muslim!”
—Turkish traffic police officer
I took off from Ardahan early in the morning, hoping to arrive early in Erzurum. The weather was amazing, and the road was perfect. There was a road section on the way that was being renovated, and the workers were doing such a thorough job that I thought I should get off the bike and take a picture of the thickness of an asphalt layer that real roads are supposed to have.
After about 3 hours, I entered Erzurum. A pretty large city with visually decent economy. Once you enter the city, on a span of 300 meters you come across a car dealership office for every single brand that you can recall, from Dodge all the way to Mercedes. No motorcycles though. How come? Another thing you notice is that the tarmac is extremely slippery, just the way it usually is when rain just starts pouring and the car exhaust chemicals are not washed off the ground yet. What’s wrong? How can tarmac be so slippery when it’s dry?
I rode into some petrol station, refueled, and asked to pay with a Mastercard at the counter. My card was rejected. That gave me a sick feeling — I knew for a fact that my HSBC Mastercard was OK, and I didn’t have a lot of cash with me!
Riding out of the station, I dropped my speed to about 50 km/h, entered some tunnel that was curved inside, realized I was going too fast, pushed my brakes, locked the wheels, skid, hit the tunnel wall on the curve, fell down, the end.
Not really. I then hit the engine killer switch, got up, checked to make sure that I was alright and put my helmet in front of the tunnel so that the cars could know something was wrong inside. Some car stopped. The driver helped me lift the motorcycle, asked if I needed ambulance, called the police, told them a “motosiklet turist” has an accident, and left wondering how could I survive that crash — I hadn’t even scratched a finger. I was actually surprised myself. Surprised and grateful for every single dollar I had not saved when purchasing my protection gear. Kudos to AGV, Dainese and Spidi!
Two police cars arrived in less than two minutes. One of them blocked the tunnel entrance, the other one drove in and 3 policemen started asking me questions and registering my accident. Their behavior was, again, extremely professional. All of them were very polite, helpful and sorry for my problem. Only one of them spoke English.
“No, I’m OK”
“Move your hands and touch your legs please?”
(I move my arms and touch my legs)
“Move hands in other direction?”
“Can you stand straight?”
“Tamam. License plate? What country?”
“Tamam. Insurance papers?”
“Tamam. I will ask the central station where the closest authorized Honda Repair shop is, and we can take your motorcycle there.”
“What was your speed?”
“The law requires that you do 30km/h inside tunnels. You were riding too fast.”
“50 is too fast? I didn’t see a speed sign before entering the tunnel! Was there one?”
“No sign, the speed limit in tunnels is a general law.”
“OK, well I didn’t know that”
“We need to do an alcohol test. Did you drink before driving?”
“Can you please blow into the tube?”
I blew into the tube. He looked at the readings, dazzled. The sensor said “0.00”. He resetted it.
“Can you blow again?”
I blew again. “0.00”
“Like a good muslim eh? If you died here, you’d go to paradise my friend!” He laughed. Then pointed his finger up. “Ramazan!”
At that point the “central station” contacted him on the radio and told him that there is no Honda in Erzurum.
“The closest official Honda repair store is in Ankara. We will have to tow your motorcycle to the autopark, and you can decide what you wanna do later on. Towing service will cost you 30 dollars. Parking lot will cost you 3 dollars per night.”
“You sure you don’t need ambulance?”
“OK, please call 112 if you feel wrong later on”
The towing vehicle arrived in about 5 minutes, and took my motorcycle and myself to some open-air car parking area with a bunch of smashed cars and motorcycles. The police drove away, asking me to go see them at the central station tomorrow at 9am, to get a copy of my accident report. “You need that copy, because your insurance will have to pay for the damage you did to the tunnel wall.”