Whatever residual question marks I had in my mind about road riding versus dirt, Turkey’s Republic Day removed most of them. I was able to spend the majority of that weekend on my bike, riding with some of my new biker friends.
LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE
As I mentioned before, I have an uncanny ability to attract into my life what I’m looking for and who I’m looking for. When I decided to get a street bike, I immediately met an incredible network of people who are not only bikers, but those who take the concept of road craft and bike safety seriously. As much as I love my extreme sports, I don’t choose to hang out with those who take stupid risks.
In the weeks leading up to my purchase of my MT-25, I met serious riders in my acro-yoga group and a women riders’ group whom I had been following on Instagram and eventually met in person. Those people led to meeting others, like well-respected road craft instructors, popular motor-vloggers, and more.
RECORD-BREAKING REPUBLIC RIDE
I’m not sure any records were actually broken that day, but when I rode over to Bostanci sahil with Fulia (one of the few female Gold Level riders in Turkey) and Fatih (Kirmizi Baslikli Adam), there was a sea of more than 5,000 motorcyclists amassed in Suadiye for the parade, in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for number of motorcyclists in a parade. Turkish flags adorned bikes and riders. Granted, I knew only about 10 of those 5,000, but it was nice feeling a part of something larger. The sun had come out and warmed us up, and if I’m being honest, the sound of all those motorcycle exhausts made my heart beat a bit faster.
The start of the motorcade was much smoother than anticipated, with the organizers directing waves of bikers quite effortlessly. We wove through Bagdat Avenue en masse, in between very slow moving parade traffic, everyone honked horns celebratorily while sidewalk parade-watchers waved to us, waved their flags, and cheered. That went on for KILOMETERS. At some points we pulled to the side to video the massive entourage.
Eventually we were on the highway back to the European side across the first bridge. Everyone instinctively decided that the parade would continue through Besiktas–at least it seemed that way as we headed towards Karakoy with a few hundred others.
We stopped for some coffee with our (now enlarged) posse at a very oddly eclectic marine sports shop/coffee bistro replete with mirrored mannequin donning scuba gear.
SARIYER MOTOKROS DERNEGI
Fulia and I took off from there to a MUCH colder Kilyos to meet up with Sinan and crew at MotocrossPark Kilyos. Invited to join them as the only motorized contingent of the Sariyer Cumhuriyet Bayrami Parade, we first motored off with the guys through very dense traffic in search of some food; it had been at least six hours since we had eaten.
My traffic practice from earlier that week and from the morning parade served me well; I was able to weave through the deadlocked cars without any problem. I realized how much I enjoyed street riding, especially with a group of friends.
Must have been severely low blood sugar levels attributing to the goofiness that ensued at Burger King…paper crowns, tomfoolery, and such. Fortunately none of us embarrass easily.
We eventually joined the parade, easily catching up with the rest of the SMD. It was a moving event, seeing so many people out walking. Many held lit candles or had candles atop their republic day signs. Following alongside marchers who held a Turkish flag at least 100 meters long, the mxers showed their Republic Day spirit with slow wheelies down the parade route.
It was a great day of street riding and great to be able to participate in such a patriotic day.