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 (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.
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…).