Day 171 – Gole to Oltu

Mmmmmm. Downhill riding. I can’t remember the last time I did 70km before lunch. I dropped from an altitude of 2,200m to 1,000m, and then only had a 250m climb back up to 1,250m (with a few ups and downs in between of course).

It was cold again as I pulled out of Gole. A balmy -20 to be exact. It was only when I started dropping in altitude that I was able to see the surrounding landscape.


Thıs photo shows the beginning of the downhill from Gole to a small town called Asker. About 35kms of downhill in total, before climbing up through red dirt hills that look like miniature mountains…

Contrasts in landscape on the way to Oltu, eastern Turkey

Red hills past Asker Town, Turkey

One thing that I have really appreciated about Turkey so far is the abundance of running water at the roadside. There is often running drinking water every 20km or so. Certainly saves having to carry so much water at any one time.

Convenient running water all throughout eastern Turkey

I rolled into Oltu, a town of 21,200 inhabitants at 12:20pm. Great feeling to have done 75km before lunch. As much as I wanted to push on to make it a 100km day, I decided to stay the night here in Oltu. Rest while I’m feeling good, I figured…

Oltu unfortunately isn’t living up to the expectations that I have developed for Turkish people however. It is a busy town. Gone are the locals who take you under their wing, feed you tea till you overdose, and then find you a hotel. But I guess that is to be expected of a big town. Give me the backcountry towns any day…

Oh and I have found a cure for any lack of energy woes. OralGas. One puff a day keeps the doctor away!

A puff a day keeps the doctor away in Oltu, Turkey

And just one last thing – some food for thought about the copious amount of meat that New Zealanders consume: The Cow Public Enemy Number One. This article was linked to from the Bentrider Online website, a website I often visit for updates on the recumbent bicycle scene. In Japan I rarely ate beef due to the exorbitant price of it, but I know that it could be considered a staple food in New Zealand…

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13 thoughts on “Day 171 – Gole to Oltu

  • Andy

    Happy New Year from the Baku Bicycle Club!!!Seems as though you've been having some fun with the weather since leaving Azerbaijan and Georgia. Great to see your logs and photo's – highly interesting. Hopefully the dogs are all behind you now. Spike sends his best wishes………

  • Daniel L.

    Hi Rob, really nice pictures you're posting – it used to be a bit (about 14 to 20 K) colder here around at this time of the year. This winter is like summer here in Germany. What used to be a nice white winter landscape is now black brown – I don't like it. I wish I could ride some km with you now, but only some, 'cause it would get too cold after some more 🙂

    BTW: I've been a vegetarian for 10 years now – it really does downsize your ecological footprint. Combined with public transport and human powered vehicles this makes you a bit less a plague (from GAIA's viewpoint)

    Keep on riding!

  • Aunty Jenny

    Awesome scenery Rob. I don't know how you can stand all that cold though. WE are supposed to be in summer here in NZ land, but the weather has been wet and cold and I have found that bad enough. I feel cold just looking at your photos! Are the houses built for the cold over there? You mentioned the stove that most people have, but do they have central heating as well? They must spend most of the winter inside with those temps. Be careful of your nose. I don't think a free a-la-natural nose job will look as good as the cosmetic variety!

  • carl w.

    Petrol Bomb! just thinking out loud since you rather stupidly in my humble opinion threw the .44mag out earlier. There's no pepper spray poisoning (good idea) will however take too long in my opinion. You don't have a ladies spade honed to a fine edge (Crazy as it sounds a formidable weapon see russian army). Getting rid of the dogs is gonna to need to be approached is a simple fashion the humble Petrol Bomb is a design wonder (see russian army again)! Simple yet effective and I bet the local dog population won't ever have seen one of those!

    Personal recommendations throw at dog when it's running towards you, try to hit ground infront of target so target moves into area which is on fire. Throw it like you mean it as unbroken bottles are not any good, never return to a lit bottle even it looks like it gone out (read fireworks code)

    (Also luverly and warm when you throw one in cold place turkey in winter)

    Poland is cold, wet, crap and I'm now waiting….. till my mate turns up…. bored already…….think I'll go play on ebay while you wonder about my sanity….regards from me

  • Satoshi

    Hi Rob

    it's been cloudy with occasional showers here in Perth which is very unusual for January. I'm not gonna winge about the poilticians not doing enough to handle the climate change here. It'll be 40 degrees C in Perth this weekend, the proper WA summer. That's a tad too scorchio for me. We are planning to have a sundowner drinking session in Fremantle that's a port town next to (it's almost a part of) Perth followed by a clubbing later,bailamos bailamos!! I like the beaches and the sunbaking ladies but wouldn't stay under the harsh cancer-ray sun for too long!

    take care


  • Rob Thomson Post author


    Aunty Les, there is actually a reasonable amount of traction on the ice dust on the side of the roads. I often have more traction than the cars that drive on the packed down ice in the middle of the road!

    Andy, cheers for the comment. I have seen a few of Spike's mates here in Turkey. In fact, one with just the same collar! Must be related…

    Daniel, interesting to hear about the climate change there in Germany. Doesn't seem to be making much of a difference here in Turkey! Or maybe it's getting colder…

    Aunty Jenny, the newer houses all have double glazing. I'm not sure whether they have central heating or not. As for what makes the hills so red, I forgot to pack my soil analysis kit including fume cabinet for chemical analysis for the trip, so have not had a chance to take samples. Will do so next time.

    Carl, you may just be onto something. The last time I checked, I'm pretty sure the animal protection agency in Turkey was still in it's infancy so no issues with cruelty to animals and all that carry on. I like the idea of a nice warm petrol blaze to heat up the toes too…

    Satoshi, don't drink too much or you might forget about the sunscreen and get all toasted. That'd be toasted twice. And I'm all for you making a home made recumbent. If I had the skills I would have made one for this trip. So much more respect for a person riding a bike they made themselves!

  • Shirley Bond

    Hi Rob

    Beef is no longer the favourite meet in NZ. It has almost priced itself off the market. In fact some NZ's are eating a lot less meat for that very reason. Lamb too is very expensive.

    I am wondering how you are going to get from Turkey into Europe. Will you have to go over very high passes? Won't they be frozen solid?

    Some great pictures. You really will have to write a book. You could become as famous as Michael Palin!!!


  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Nana, I get into Europe from Turkey via northern Greece. I'm not 100% sure about whether there'll be any mountains, but they can't be much worse than what I've already seen in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey. As for meat, I guess people are eating more chicken these days?