Cay to Yenkoy 112km
To Imranli 100km
I woke up to a tent covered in snow, but I was so cozy. But I needed to pee, badly. And were any of my clothes dry, and how much snow was on the road? Was it even ridable?
It's not always a good idea to start a climb over a pass late in the afternoon. I'm talking 3pm here, but I thought that I would rather wake to a downhill rather than a 5km uphill, and the previous pass hadn't been too steep........ Turkey time is a little strange. Turkey is a very wide country, with only one timezone, and joins other Eastern European countries in daylight saving. However, this year, because of elections, and not wanting to confuse the public, Turkey has delayed the Oct 25th change over date until Nov 8th. So I'm really confused..... spring back, fall forward?...... I honestly dont think the locals even know. Not one clock I've seen is showing the same time... I just know that once the sun sets, it gets dark pretty quick. So I come out of a drivers cafe and start up the hill...... and oh my word .... it's a stinker. Not too steep, but relentless, and I've already done 100km today. And, although it's been a really nice day, there is a change in the air. I reckon it might even snow.
An hour and a half grunting up hill, and my legs are jelly, and the sun is just dipping behind another peak, as I reach the summit. Damn, it's going to be dark soon. Perhaps I can get to the bottom on the other side and find a campsite. Bother. After 2km downhill, the road starts climbing again. Neither my legs, nor my brain, can cope. I pull off onto a small track that goes behind a knoll and pitch my tent. Hopefully I've descended enough not to get snowed on......
Nope. And my clothes are still damp, even though I've had them inside my sleeping bag all night. And it's still snowing. Now here's another thing...... I'm really pleased to be able to pee during the night. It reassures me that I'm rehydrated enough. But when the temperature outside the tent is below zero, and I'm camped on stones.... it's not so much fun.... But since it's getting light, I figure I should pack up camp, and vamoose, in case the snow gets heavier and I get stuck here on the pass.
I layer up with damp clothes and climb the short hill before the descent continues, but oh my it's cold. I've got all my layers on, all those winter clothes I've carried in my panniers for 27,000km, and I'm still cold. Its pretty surreal really. My glasses are fogged up on the inside, and covered in snow on the outside, so my vision is slightly lacking. My hands are so cold that they can barely operate the brakes, and I can't hear anything except the wind because I've got three layers over my ears, and I'm zooming down a hill at 60kph. Sensory deprived and crazy?
By the time I get to the bottom of the hill my feet feel like solid ice, I can't operate my thumbs, and my nose feels like it will break off, but there is another cafe. I stomp in. My glasses totally fog up in the heat, and I have to get one of the staff to undo my helmet for me, because my fingers won't work. The hot soup and fresh bread thaw me out...Yippee, and it's not snowing outside. So it's back on the bike, and let's do some kms.
30km later, I'm climbing another pass, and it starts snowing again, and the head wind is bitter. There's nowhere to shelter, nowhere to camp, it's just a bitter, hard grind. To be honest, it's not that much fun, but there's not much choice today. I'm committed. I have to keep going. The photos at the top don't do justice to how cold it was. It's really hard to get your layers right. Climbing produces sweat, which dampens your clothes, so uphill I've only got a couple of layers on. Descending creates wind, which cools down everything, so at the summit you need to stop and put more layers on, no matter how cold it is. And once again the descent is freezing. But once again there is a Cafe at the bottom of the hill. And here is Diaconescu Radu a cyclist from Romania, who I rode with for a couple of hours a few days ago. We sit and chat while I thaw out. He tells me it's only 20km to the next town, and no hills, where we can find a hotel...... How does he know all this stuff? Turns out he has a weather app, and an altitude app, and Internet on his phone...... am I under prepared? Nope. I don't think so. I'm having "my" adventure. But his information is music to my ears. I can manage 20km. He also tells me that we are over the passes. I hope he's right.