Day 173 – Tortum to Erzurum

I have done something to my knee. I hope it doesn’t last too long. I can’t put any power into my right knee otherwise it hurts like jolly billio’s. I do have a knee support thingee deep within my panniers somewhere so I hope that helps. I think the cause of this could have been either yesterday’s happy jumping spree or the killer passes today and yesterday, or a combination of both…

Icy grass approaching Erzurum, eastern Turkey

I need to write to the map company that makes the map I used up till Erzurum. They failed to mention the 2,200m pass between Tortum and Erzurum. I began having those nasty negative thoughts, similar to that time in Tajikistan, as I was being battered and abused by the slope and accompanying strong freezing head wind. There was only one thing I could do in order to get over that pass today.

“I have the physical ability to do this.”

“I am capable of this challenge.”

“I enjoy cycling.”

“I love being here right now.”

I knew I was lying to myself, but as I said those words out loud, they made me feel better.

For some reason I was really cold today. Serves me right for not eating enough at breakfast. It is amazing how important a solid breakfast is. It heats my body for most of the morning. Today as I dropped into the Erzurum basin, the wind cut into me like a knife.

The approach to Erzurum, eastern Turkey

Cold fingers.

Excruciating “must stop and moan” pain as fingers heat up again.

For the first time I wore my down jacket for more than 10 minutes of cycling. I wore it all the way from the top of the pass today to Erzurum (40km). All because of an insufficient breakfast.

(click on this for short video – will open in new window)

Erzurum is a big city of 402,000 people. I cycled around as long as my right knee would allow it before stopping at a cafe for lunch. Right next to the cafe was a hotel. To my surprise they had a standard $7 room. Promptly checked in and wandered to the nearest internet cafe. Internet cafes are rarely more than a 15 minute walk from anywhere in towns and cities in Turkey.

The plan is to take tomorrow off, and since it’s just not the done thing to cycle on a Sunday, will leave Erzurum on Monday. This should give my knee some time to get its act together.

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14 thoughts on “Day 173 – Tortum to Erzurum

  • wim harwig

    Be very carefull with that knee, Rob. Don't push it too hard. You're cyclist enough to know the danger of a destroyed knee, so do not let it come that far.

    Wish you all the strength and succes.


  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Wim, thanks for that. You can rest assured that I will be taking it very carefully indeed. Loads of stretching is on the cards.

  • Stefania

    Hello, Rob!

    There is a very simple traditional chinese cure for your knee (”9miles point” – with reference to acupuncture map points): you have to stick by a strip a single grain of crude rice four fingers beneath your suffering knee on the outer side – you may locate the point when you stretch out your leg, looking for a small depression. Ancient Chinese warrior used to massage this point to continue their very long march…

    Take care! Stefania (Florence, ITALY)

  • Chris J

    Hi Rob,

    Sorry to hear about your knee. I strained mine as well when I first started running regularly. The first time a trip to an onsen fixed it. The second time I just didn't run for a month and it hasn't bothered me since. Not sure either of those ideas are much help to you at this point though… Let's hope that by Monday everything is ready to ride again. I enjoyed the video too. Great to hear you voice.

  • Marija


    at the moment I am in Beijing, but just made same route just opposite direction.

    I was frozen cold from Nachu to Gormo coming down from Tibet.

    My best two quotes were:

    – tomorrow is another day

    – what does not kill me make me stronger

    Just keep rolling. There will be sun and warm weather again soon. Try to go maybe souther. Erzurum is high and everything around is high too.

    Enjoy. Wishing you plenty of tailwind and good people.

  • Rob Thomson Post author


    Aunty Les, I think the knee problem has more to do with the hard climbing in the last few days. These hills in Turkey are quite definitely steeper even than the ones in Tajikistan. The fact that the roads are sealed here however makes a big difference.

    Mike, will do.

    Chris, going to a Turkish onsen tomorrow. Can't quite afford to not cycle for a month, so let's hope that helps!

    Cheers Matt.

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Marija, great to hear from a fellow cyclist. Pity that we did not cross paths at any point. All the best for the rest of the trip, and if you're in Slovenia in about a couple of months time, we should meet up!

  • Mark Stosberg


    Here's my two cents about the knee: For short term relief, Naproxen really helped me (sold branded as a Aleve). It was recommended a nurse/cyclist over iboprufren. It allowed me to finish several hours of cycling the day my knee hurt so bad I considered giving up.

    For the longer term, rest and acupuncture seemed to have helped to restore it as fully as possible.

    Something else I'm careful to check is my 'bent seat adjustment. If my seat slides back just half an inch, I may start having knee or achille's heel problems from the extra reach.

  • Rob Thomson Post author

    Mark, thank you for your suggestions on the knee issue. I am convinced that the main cause of the problem was not only the hard hills on the day, but also the fact that I had shortened the boom on the bike a while back. This was in order to exercise my leg muscles in a different way for a while. I had not got around to changing the boom back to the optimum length, and I think that may have made a difference. I guess I will find out tomorrow when I head out.