When crossing a lean, tawny man with a cap and a walking stick, cheerfully dragging a huge suitcase on wheels along a winding, deserted country road, what would be your thoughts? Traveller, pilgrim, homeless? It haunts me. I make a U-turn, address him in English and look into the radiant, wrinkled face of a local tramp. We communicate in a Russian-style single word language. “Remont!” (repair) he shouts. Surely he has no idea why I pulled over next to him.
Promptly he gestures the first car to stop, which luckily doesn't do so. Then he puts his suitcase aside and goes standing behind my bike. He signals that I should turn it on. Suddenly I realise he thinks I'm having a breakdown. He 'jumpstarts' the bike, I give a little throttle and glide off. He nearly tumbles to the ground. I laugh, saying “elektrik!” and ride two small rounds to prove that my bike is in perfect working order.
Dumbfounded he approaches and stares at the spot where there's normally the engine, thus to the batteries. Then he laughs out loud and nods admiringly. Like so many, because of the silence, he thought my engine had broken down.
I get off and give him a sesame bar. As far as I can tell, he can do with a little extra energy. Grinning broadly, we pump hands. In my rearview mirror I see him waving till he's a mere dot.
I'm on my return journey from Istanbul, in a sparsely populated region of Bulgaria, on a 100 percent electric motorcycle, the Zero DS.