I am getting better at some things, but not at others. Today I donned socks on my hands from the get go, and with two pairs of socks as well as shoes instead of sandals, I entered the day with warm hands and feet. I haven’t made any improvements at staying warm overnight, however. My feet were cold when I went to bed and the coldness crept into my lower legs. No amount of wriggling managed to get them warm again. It seems that I simply can’t let my feet get cold before bed, otherwise they will stay cold. The trouble is even if I remain in my double-layered socks and shoes, my feet get cold between the time I stop riding and the time I’m ready for bed. Not only did my feet and lower legs get cold, but so too did the rest of my body, just not to the same extent. I could feel the cold emanating through the concrete, a sign that my foam sleeping mat is failing to keep me insulated. This is a bit of a worry, as without a good barrier between myself and the ground, I have no chance of keeping warm as nightly temperatures only get colder. In the middle of the night I took the drastic step of pulling out my emergency blanket from my first aid kit and spreading it out over my sleeping mat. The blanket is a thin layer of highly reflective silver plastic, designed to treat shock by keeping heat in (when someone is hypothermic) or out (when someone is suffering heat stress). I also tied my feet into plastic bags, but they did nothing.

I knew that today I would be spending a lot of time on a main highway heading towards Ankara, so I began to consider heading into the city to buy gloves and something extra to sleep on. This would add a couple of days to my journey. Soon into the day I decided not to. This is probably partly because my body warmed up and I forgot how cold I was in the night and two mornings ago. Hopefully I don’t regret it. I figure my socks are doing a good job with my hands, and I can continue to trial the emergency blanket as an insulator.

With a ceiling over my head, my tent remained dry overnight so I faced a fairly quick pack up. I still didn’t get away super quickly though because I am failing to get up when my alarm goes off. In fact, my mind is not even registering that the noise it hears is a signal to start the day. I think this is partly because I set the alarm time a couple of weeks ago, to go off just when there is a sign of light in the sky. But now the days have shortened enough that there is no detectable light when it goes off, so my body and mind just continue to sleep. Tonight I have set my watch so that it goes off slightly later, and four times instead of two.

I might not be over my tyre issues just yet. When I woke up my rear tyre was slightly flat. I pumped it up and got through the day fine though. I rode fairly quickly today, encouraged along by heavy highway traffic. I appreciated having an emergency lane all to myself as huge trucks and speeding cars flew past on their way to the capital. I was slowed down at times by a headwind or hill climb, but still managed to make fairly good time.

I have had good luck again regarding finding a place to sleep. I am now off the highway and heading west on small roads through tiny villages. It was about 3.40pm (twenty minutes before my usual end-of-day deadline) when I passed through Golbek. As I passed the village’s mosque, I was suddenly struck by the desire to see if I can spend the night there. I could see an enclosed verandah area that would be a perfect place to set up undercover. I parked up and began poking around trying to find someone. As I did so a group of men called out to me from down the road. I retrieved my bike then rode over to them. They were five guys, probably in their 70s and 80s. As I approached I introduced myself my telling them my name and that I am from Australia. They asked me where I was going. Beyond this I had no idea what they were asking me and they had no idea what I was saying to them. I gestured that I was looking for an undercover place to set up my tent. Two guys had a 20-second chat before one of them seemed to indicate I could set up nearby. He slowly led me back towards the mosque while the other guy disappeared into a house. When he appeared he had a set of keys in his hand. I was led to a building and shown in. Of the two rooms, one is being used as a bit of a store room, with an old bed, plastic chairs, sink, urn and other bits and pieces. The other room is a clean, carpeted sitting room, its edges lined with thin mattresses and cushions. I was welcome to set up in there, he said. I assume the place is a community meeting area, maybe where the old men in the village like to gather and hang out.

After showing me in, the guy left and I haven’t seen anyone since. I prepared a bed, got changed and started making dinner. While I was making dinner I was struck by the realisation I didn’t have access to a toilet. As I am normally camping out in places where I can just go anywhere, I’m not in the habit of thinking ahead. For the first time in my life, I pissed into a plastic bottle. I am putting off the thought of what I will do if I need to do a number two.

So comfy

Accommodation Village community room
Distance ridden today 93km
Average cycling speed 18.5kph
Total distance ridden 25,913km