28 Haziran 2012 Perşembe

A Rescue Mission!!!

"One year ago, if someone told me that I would be back in Libya, I wouldn't believe him...". That was exactly what I was thinking when the tyres of the aircraft touched the runway of Benghazi Airport. The weather was dry and dusty as usual when we got off the plane. When company had asked me to make a survey in our construction sites in Libya for a few days, at first I had hesitated to accept, but then thinking of the possibility to find my Haro Sport, I accepted the request and took the first plane ticket to Benghazi the day after ...

It was surprising to see that the runway was completely repaired which was damaged by the rebels during the up-rise. The shuttle took us to the airport building and after the passport control I was picked up by one of my Libyan colleagues, Hassan. There were still some remains of the war here and there around the airport such as an anti-aircraft just after leaving the car park of the airport...

Hassan drove me for around 160 kilometers to east, to the Green Mountains area where I had spent my 2.5 years. On the way he explained me that the place was now quiet and safe, only it would not be safe for expatriates to drive themselves especially at night time so a driver would be recommended.

on the way to Al Beida

 It was a misty day, and rainbows were often visible.

It was nice to pass across the Wadi Kuf through the suspended bridge again. After a stopover for a coffee break, we finally made it to Al Beida city after 2 hours.

Wadi Kuf suspended bridge

The city was quite and life was back to normal. There was no sign of teenagers with their AK-47s but I was pretty sure most people kept their guns after the revolution in their homes or were carrying them some place in their vehicles. Main road blocked by traditional wedding tents was another evidence to normal rhythm of life in Beida.

Wedding Tents

During this trip I was thinking about my Haro Sport more than any other thing in Libya but my primary mission was to see our construction site and make a status report.

It was a very enthusiastic welcome from my friend Khalifa after 2 years. Khalifa and his brothers had looked after the site well and protected the place against thieves at all costs. Khalifa had been stabbed in the shoulder and one of his brothers was shot in the ankle by the thieves but the construction site was well preserved in general.

Khalifa-protector of the camp

Hangar and all the materials were in place, even our car was almost untouched. "We only turned on the motor  from time to time to avoid the battery run out" said Khalifa. The thick dust on the car was approving what he said.

Camp Hangar

The violent days had left their marks on our offices. There were bullet holes on the walls. One had gone through the ceiling of my colleague's room (probably fired from the hill behind) and changed direction towards his chair.

The day was almost over, I had seen almost everything on site and it was time to go to somewhere to sleep. The surprise of the day struck me when I asked Hassan if there were any hotels working in Beida. He said I would not need one as the the house I was staying was available for me! That was wonderful news, at least there was a small chance the house was not vandalized and I would find all our belongings, most importantly my wife's shoes (!) and my Haro Sport...

I, Osama and Adel

The  neighborhood was quiet as usual and we met my landlord-Osama in the garden. He was a man of his word, he kept the house at it was, even had it cleaned the day before I arrived.  The garden had become a small jungle but inside the house was as I had left. Yes, that moment had come. I would now see if my Haro Sport had been given to one of Osama's naughty nephews or was it still in the living room... I slowly opened the living room door...

Stepped inside,

The dark living room finally showed its gift!

There she was! Sitting there for 1.5 years waiting for me with patience...

Free Haro Sport! Free Libya!

My bike was as I had left, crank dismantled with a last hope of taking it with me to Turkey at the days of revolution. I quickly packed my bike and put it into the uncomfortable MTB carrying bag. The way back to Turkey would be tough as I would also be taking all my, my wife's and my parent's clothing, shoes, etc. At the end of packing, I ended up with 8 luggage, and one bike ready to depart!

My friend Hassan took me to Benghazi Airport the next day with his pick up, and was kind enough to help me to carry the luggage to the counter where he was also able to convince the officer to let me take the plane without paying 140 kg of extra luggage which would cost around 1000 USD!!!. I must admit I like the Libyan way.

The rest of the journey was pleasant as my wife and dad met me at the airport with a rented van which took us all the way home. My precious Haro Sport was with me now and hopefully forever...

With two of my girls

15 Ocak 2012 Pazar

My Dear GT Aggressor

Year 1990, I was at the age of fourteen . Everybody used to fall in love in spring, but all I cared was riding...At the time I had a pink Haro Sport which had a weld under the seat post clamp-the usual Haro Sport problem (story of which will be told later on). In the neighborhood Ertan had a GT Pro Freestyle Tour, and Kerim had probably something similar. And our long curly haired friend Vedat had a chrome Raleigh Super Burner bike. Those were the only freestyle bikes in the whole Asian side of Istanbul!

1984 Raleigh Super Burner
Vedat was the oldest member of the gang after Ertan and I would say he was the boldest rider of the team. His favorite trick was "bazooka" but in my opinion his most remarkable feature was to do peg wheelies, frame stand, bar stand and etc. in really high speeds, most of the time down hill which could hurt you badly if you fell. Vedat sold his Raleigh, saved some money and eventually ordered a nice chrome GT Pro Freestyle Tour from USA. The bike  came after an impatient waiting period. That was a big thing because not everyday a brand new bike came to the neighborhood. Aaand Vedat opened the box and guess what, it was a GT Aggressor which was released to the market only last year (and manufacturing stopped the year after)!

1989 Kasım Ayı BMX Plus Dergisi'nden 1990 model GT Agressor reklamı 

A strange looking bike with a welded bash guard on instead of a GT Pro Fresstyle Tour which was the most popular freestyle bike of the era, Vedat was deeply dissapointed but there was not much to do. Sending the bike back would probably mean to wait another couple of months or even never get something in return. The customs procedures were very tough and it wouldn't worth risking the bike. I remember Vedat grouching "if only they just had put a small   platform on the damn bike".

After riding our bikes for two years I sold my Haro Sport to a guy in Fenerbahce and just after that Vedat sold his Aggressor to me. I rode the Aggressor for two summers with pleasure but with worn out tires, no gyro cables and cracked brake levers due to limited resources and mostly due to being broke. 90'es were a big fall on the popularity of BMX bikes and for me it was graduation from the high school and staring the college. We had moved to another city where there were no riders to hang out with and my Aggressor took her place in the basement...

Year 2011... 17 years since I last rode a BMX. My sorrow for my Haro Sport which I left as P.O.W. in Libya was still fresh and I was in Istanbul. The first thing I did was to look for my Aggressor's frame&fork. Checked out my parents' basement, the small store room in our house but it was nowhere. I blamed everyone for trashing it and nobody confessed they did so. Then embarrassingly my wife found it stuck between a woodenbox and the wall in our store! (I am sure there are several old school bikes somewhere hidden like that)

Long idle years have caused corrosion and a faded chrome...

I contacted my friend Vedat after 20 years. He now owns a shop called MOTOSTATION on maintenance of motorcycles. It is nice to see him still attached to two wheelers. He gave me some good information on how to get rid of rust and I started working on cleaning.  

A recommendation to those who want to clean their bikes off from rust. Although i tried three different rust removers Cif Kitchen Cleaner worked the best! Below are the pictures of Cif and SONAX cooperation after a big effort for 10 days and 1.5 hours a day:

Yes myGT was ready for the restoration, but I was about to leave the country again for an overseas project. I left the frame&fork to my friend Hakki-owner of Kadikoy Bisiklet Evi after making the selection of parts. I really would like to put the bike together to the last screw but I had no time and I wanted myAggressor to be complete a.s.a.p. My decision was to have a combination of old school and and new school looks.

Decals were designed in photo shop with the help of my sister in law-great artist-yoga master-art director Eren Topçu. I did not want to duplicate the original decals, my purpose to make something new from a 22 year old bike.There are still some decal designs in mind that I want to make for this bike,but this was what I could do in the short time I had.

I sent the digitals to my restaurant manager friend Billy (Bilal Çelik) who had a friend who was printing catalogs for him. Next day the decals were in my office...

And finally it was time to go for me. I had to leave before seeing my bike complete. I reluctantly left the country, However during its restoration I was involved and told Hakki what to do via msn and facebook.

This period was not very important for me. At the end of the day when I returned back I was going to make my changes and fine tuning on the bike. By the way I must also say that Hakki did a great job. After 6 months of stay when I came back to Istanbul I made the fine tuning on the seat post and stem height and some brake adjustments. That was it. There are still some parts replacements that I am planning, but for the time being  I am sharing the pictures of my Aggressor's final status. Enjoy!

2 Ocak 2012 Pazartesi

Happy New Year

Dear BMX lovers, I wish all a happy and an accident-free new year!

What about the story of this bike under the Christmas tree? Coming soon!