Day 169 – TURKEY: Erm….

Frozen beard in -23 degrees temperature near Gole, eastern Turkey

It’s all rather cold in this part of the world.

So I leave Ardahan at 10am, and as soon as I am on the road, my thermometer drops sharply to -10 degrees Celcius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). It stayed at this temperature for most of the climb up to the top of the pass that would see me drop into a mist-shroud minus 23 degrees Celcius (-10 degrees Fahrenheit) valley.

Just before the LCD froze, on the way to Gole, eastern Turkey

Just before the LCD froze (went all black)

I took my wristwatch off and attatched that to the bike. In 30 minutes is had dropped to -23 degrees celcius.

It is a fascinating world, this freezing environment. It was unearthly still. Quiet. Grass that dared emerge higher than the snow was coated in a thick layer of ice crystals. Dogs barked, but dared not leave the comfort of their homes, if not for fear of getting lost in the thick fog, certainly because of the cold.

Oil Free and Happy (and jolly freezing) on the way to Gole, eastern Turkey

However despite the cold (and frozen beard), I was warm inside. I could have enjoyed the ride more had I not had a headache for most of the day. I think it was due to dehydration. It is very dry here. I pushed on for the 45kms to Gole, a small town of 10,000 inhabitants.

I arrived at just before dark at 4:30pm. People turned and looked in astonishment at this frozen creature on a frozen bicycle. I pulled up outside a tea-house to ask directions, and was promptly pulled inside to thaw out in front of the ever present coal burner potbelly stove. As usual I was given copious amounts of hot tea, before being walked to the nearest hotel – a warm $7 a night for a single room. I had given up the thought of camping earlier in the day simply due to the sheer cold (if it was -23 in the daytime…).

Frozen beard in -23 degrees temperature near Gole, eastern Turkey

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13 thoughts on “Day 169 – TURKEY: Erm….

  • Uncle Peter

    The thought that springs to mind is the Dufflepuds (refer CS Lewis' "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader") uglifying themselves. What will you look like when you've got this ugly business sorted properly?


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  • Haidee

    Wow! just caught up on your travels, looks mighty cold out there, yay for a warm bed for the night and warm locals to show u the way and share their tea. I got back yesterday from winter/summer vacation-winter in NZ and Japan! and summer in Oz and Singapore. Back to school tomorrow, yay!

    Praying for your warmth and wisdom-Haidee

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Haidee. Oz. Singapore. NZ. Ohhhh that sounds goooood. And welcome the world of 26 year olds. Not much different from today yesterday or tomorrow, but Happy Birthday anyway.

  • Mum

    Is the beard an advantage? Keeps the chin warm? Sounds like you will have to 'camp' inside for a while. Wouldn't fancy -20o in a tent myself but then I'm not an 26 yr old on an adventure. But watch out for the extremities – you don't want too lose too many fingers or toes!

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Mum, the beard is great. It saves having to fumble around with a scarf (which gets wet with breath moisture anyway). Not too many issues with cold toes now that I am making sure that my boots don't get wet (brushing snow off as soon as it gets on the boots).

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Aunty Les, I was thinking of frostbitten noses as I pedalled today actually. I was thinking that some people spend quite a lot of money to alter the look of their face. Why not do it for free using the ride-really-fast-on-a-bicycle-in-subzero-temperatures technique? Would save them a lot of money.

  • achim

    Hey Rob, yesss!!! A frozen beard:-) These are the pictures I requested days ago. You are a maniac and we all can see that by looking at these arctic-expedition-like-pictures. Crazy. I am so happy with these extreme up-and-down-and-frontal shots, because they show us how hard you are working every hour & every minute to keep that journey going. I think it is totally different to be in the cold and skiing for a couple of hours, having fun and be in a warm bed at night and like what you are doing, being out in the cold all of the day, not knowing where to sleep at night and putting up a tent into the snow for a night break (there can't be a relaxin night sleep). Here is another picture request: Next big city, I want to see you sitting in a turkish spa or onsen or hot bath or what they call it in Turkey. I know that there have been a lot of public baths in the past, because that was kind of turkish culture similar to Japan. So, take a break and ask for the word of public bath. Then heat up and get a good massage for relaxation of your overworked muscles. ONSEN!, ONSEN!, ONSEN!….Yeah! Keep your feet warm. Bye, Akimoto

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Achim, will see what I can do about that photo of be being beaten to a pulp at a 'hamam'. Will have a look tomorrow…might help the bung knee too.

  • Donna

    Rob, I too just caught up on your trip (Kirk has been telling me about it but I finally decided to look for myself). Your photos have been fantastic and make me yearn for some more adventure myself – our year long RTW now three years in our past. Watching with anticipation,