The day started off alright. The sun was shining, I slept in late (8:00) and got a late start. First I headed along the Black Sea coast to Trabzon and then turned south towards Macka and the Meryemana Monastery. The monastery is located in the mountains and built into a cliff face. It was supposed to be very beautiful and I suppose it was but like when I tried to visit the Terra cotta soldiers, the trip to the very crowded touristy site was slow and I quickly got frustrated. So once I had the monastery in view, I took a couple pictures and got out of there and back on the main road as quickly as possible.
The roads out of Macka were perfectly smooth mountain roads with nice wide turns. Most cars were doing 100km or more easily but up to now I didn't have any experience taking turns that quickly. So I experimented with speeds until my rear wheel began to slip a bit. While traveling through a long tunnel though I felt a familiar wobbling and heard a terrible grinding sound. I tried my rear brake and found that it didn't work. Once again, my bearings had broken. I drove and quickly as I dared out of the tunnel and found a vacant parking lot near the small village of Torul. I didn't have any spares so, with the help of some nearby mechanics at a car shop, I propped up the bike, took off the rear wheel and brought the one still whole bearing with me back to Trabzon by bus. I trusted the mechanics to watch my stuff and left my helmet near the bike.
In Trabzon, and hour later, I very quickly found a store right near the bus station that seemed only to sell bearings. What luck! I bought four and found a bus on its way back to Torlu. When I got there, it was about 4:00 now, I quickly replaced the bearings and started getting ready to set off only to find my helmet was missing... The mechanics helped me call the police. There was a security camera across the road but the guy in charge of the cameras had gone home and wouldn't be back until morning. A bit frustrated, I decided to stay at the village hotel that night. The police were very friendly and helped me find a secure place to park the motorcycle, and hotel and then drove me into town for dinner the whole time making sure I wasn't made to pay the foreigner price anywhere.
I woke up and found the police. This wasn't hard. I was in a very small village. They told me that they couldn't see anything. I wondered later if this meant that they couldn't see my motorcycle because it was out of view of the camera or if it meant that they couldn't see anyone approaching my motorcycle. If it was the latter, Probably the mechanics had stolen my helmet. Anyway, before I left that morning I decided to have one last look around the parking lot where my bike was. As luck would have it, at the far end near a big pile of dirt and an old truck I found my helmet! completely destroyed. Whoever had taken it decided to remove every removable piece, probably searching for money, and then it looked like they kicked it around for a while. I gathered all the pieces only missing one screw and surprisingly was able to completely reassemble it. Only a few of the plastic bits were slightly broken! I got a replacement screw from a nearby shop and was ready to go.
I started off down the winding highway roads slowly just in case my bearings decide to break again as they had last time. But about 10km down the road everything seemed fine so I picked up speed and resumed my fast turn tests. I arrived at Gumushane around 11:00 in the afternoon and while putting though town, I heard grinding. The rear brakes didn't work again. The bearings yet again had broken. I kinda expected this to happen so I wasn't too upset. I pulled over and set to work on the now all too familiar task of replacing the rear bearings. Luckily this time I had spares. A quick half hour later (I'm quite good at doing this now) I was back on the road and more confident now. It couldn't possible happen again...
I left the village and traveled about 10km before... once again... the grinding started. This time I was in the middle of the mountains without a building, parking lot, or bit of shade in sight. It was very hot that day. I had no replacements. This was a problem.
I have had incredibly good luck when in trouble on this trip and it didn't fail me here. Almost immediately, a friendly looking man pulled over and asked me if I needed any help. He lived just about 1km back towards town and offered to drive me and my motorcycle back into town on his neighbor's flatbed ford Transit. Perfect! I wondered how much he would charge but decided to leave that for later. I needed this and I guess I'd have to pay whatever he asked. His neighbor was an older man, probably in his 60s, with his typical Turkish mustache, big gut and incredibly low rumbling voice, reminded me of a Turkish Santa. At first he was a bit intimidating but later he turned out to be a very friendly and open minded guy. He had worked in Istanbul for 30 years before retiring. He and his wife bought this plot of land in the mountains, he built the house himself, and now spends his retirement years turning the milk from his cow into yogurt.
We got to the village but couldn't find any spare parts so the old man offered to drive me and the motorcycle to the nearest city, 120km away. Finally I had to ask how much it would cost and me told me that I would only have to pay for gas. On the way, we dropped off the neighbor who had found me and picked up the old man's best friend and the three of us piled into the front of the Transit. On the way we talked about our lives (good chance for me to practice my Turkish) our religious philosophies and political ideas.
When I got to the mechanic's shop in Erzincan, he was just about to close. He discovered a flaw in my motorcycle's wheel system that destroyed bearings if the wheel axle wasn't tightened extremely tightly. With new bearings, spares, a fixed wheel and a renewed confidence in the motorcycle, I said my goodbyes to my new friends and headed off to find a place to camp. It was almost dark so I made it about 50km out of the city before finding a field near a creek just off the main road. Hopefully, that would be the end of my mechanical troubles...