March 15

Great camping last night, with the wind dying down early and a relatively warm night.  Woke up about 6am, and we had a relaxed start to the day, getting on the road about 8am.  It was nice having some time to properly loft my bag and let the sun dry the dew from the tent before hitting the road. 

It was a relatively uneventful day of cycling, with good roads and light headwinds, allowing us to rack up 115km.  In the morning we had some fairly big hills to work through, but the winds were light and didn’t hinder us too much.  After the hills it was pretty much flat, running along valley floor after valley floor, with a bit of a crosswind to bother us but nothing too serious.  The landscape around here is quite monotonous, with the same coloured hills running alongside you on both directions for kilometre after kilometre.  The people here are super friendly though, with everyone interested in us, and plenty of beeping of horns.  One excited guy even leaned his entire body out of the window of his van in order to give me a thumbs up.

We started to get hungry about 3pm, so tried to find a place to eat in one of the small towns we passed though – Gurcayir was the name of it – and it was quite creepy to cycle through.  It was an absolute ghost town, and we didn’t see a single soul apart from two young guys, Emre and Yesil, who beckoned us over to offer us cigarettes and take photos with us.  Neither of them spoke a word of English, but their excitement was really fun.  We managed to find a place to eat at a BP garage in Sarkisla, and finding free wifi, we settled down for an hour to some kebabs and cey.  Taking a look at the weather over the next few days made me a little concerned, as it’s supposed to be very cold over the next two days, then warm up a bit, then cold again on Friday.  As this second cold snap coincides with when we are going to be hitting the highest part of the mountains, we’re going to speed up a little bit to try and get over the top by end of the day Thursday, before the snow comes.  The next couple of days being cold isn’t really a problem as we’re low (well, over 1000m) but if we get caught in a cold patch and it starts to snow while we’re up at 2500m it’s a different story.  Hopefully all goes well. 

After realising all this, we jumped back on the bikes pronto and rode on another 15k before finding a perfect place to camp.  Beside a small stream, 100m or so from the road and surrounded by trees.  It’s going to be a cold night tonight, but I’ll be bundled up warm.  Strange to think that as I type this, back home everyone is tucking into their Sunday lunch, or watching the football, or curled up reading a book, while I’m listening to a wee burn gurgle away, about to cook a dinner of rice, sucuk and beans and stressing about evading snowstorms.  A very odd thought. 

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