I knew what I’d see when I unzipped my tent fly but it was still a delightfully surprising sight: a long-haired, horned sheep was standing a foot away. It startled and moved away, revealing a mob of similar creatures flowing past my tent and across the creek. I stayed in my tent snapping pictures as their shepherd wandered by. As quickly as they’d come, I was alone again. My second surprise came when I grabbed my clothes from the line. I’d been bracing myself to put on damp clothes but I found them dry despite the cold night. Must have been the breeze. I felt cold enough to don cycling leggings and pants as I packed up camp, but as the sun revealed itself just over the hill I warmed up enough to consider just wearing bike shorts. Before I was ready, a trio of ladies walked past, then a young man. The man, in his 20s, was named Ibrahim. He hung around until I was ready to move away.

The day was characterised by long climbs and long descents, which is nice terrain to be riding – you get to work hard and receive a reward for your effort. The scenery wasn’t spectacular but interesting enough to prevent me from listening to music as a form of entertainment. My first climb turned nightmarish when I was attacked by bees (or wasps, I didn’t get a good look). One stung me on the back of the neck and another got me on the forehead. I found some unexpected energy and sped up a little so I could reach the top sooner and leave them behind on a downhill. The stings hurt badly for about five minutes before the pain began to slowly fade.

In Bingol I stopped at a servo to go to the toilet and was invited to have a cup of tea by a friendly worker. He could speak German and took to speaking to me in German, of which I know as much (or less) as I do Turkish. Still, we managed to piece together a conversation consisting of the basic questions. Alone? Unmarried? Which way are you going? Where are you sleeping tonight? Isn’t it cold in a tent? How many kilometres have you cycled? How old are you? He gifted me with two apples as I left.

Leaving Bingol meant a long, steady climb. I passed two hilltop forts strategically placed to provide long views along the road. As my 4pm deadline approached I began looking out for potential camp options. The area isn’t great, being very hilly. I have found an almost flat, almost rock-less spot on the side of a hill below the main road. Bee hives are nearby (I had passed two honey stalls on the main road). As I have been writing, the sound of drums begun flowing across the valley from the hill opposite. I thought the nights weren’t going to get any warmer, but alas I was able to stay in my cycling clothes as I cooked dinner (rather than change into warmer stuff) and I even braved an open air wash in the still-quite-cold air. I should be able to sleep without thermals tonight.

Good morning

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 84.9km
Average cycling speed 15.3kph
Total distance ridden 25,007km