Day 26: Kosa to Bayburt (60km and 450m of climbing- 6491km from home)

Today was the day that we admitted we were nearer to aged 60 than 30. The night was interrupted by rain showers and, at one point at about 4am, I wondered if our visitors had been right and it would have been better to have moved to higher ground. However the rain was not that heavy and it would have needed a biblical type flood to remove us, so I went back to sleep after a flood inspection.
When we woke about 6.30am it was light and the rain had eased off. We were dry and in a good mood although the ground around the tent had large puddles. So we drank coffee and packed, then set off with the first aim being Bayburt, 60km away.

The sky was threatening but it was not actually raining. That soon changed. Most of the ground between Kosa and Bayburt is a high altitude plateau, between 1650m and 1700m. It was fairly flat after the initial climb up to the plateau, but then the rain came down in torrents. We had rain jackets, over trousers, gloves and were still soaked to the skin. It was cold and the wind swirly around, but mostly seemed to be blowing the rain into our faces.  
It was like cycling through a rainstorm in a cloud for 50km – and that was because we were cycling through a rainstorm in a cloud for 50km. There was nothing much to see because of the clouds and lots of passing vehicles that sprayed up surface water into our faces. If I give the impression that this was not the best morning of the trip then you get the picture.
By the time we got to the town of Bayburt at 12.30am we had had enough. We’d covered 60km and were feeling our ages. So we stopped at the first hotel (exorbitantly priced by Turkish standards) and gave up for the day. If we had been 30 again we would have shrugged our shoulders and pressed on, but life has taught us some basic rules and credit cards are not called flexible friends for nothing.
Slowly feeling came back to our fingers and feet – courtesy of a hot shower and a double duvet – and we started laughing again. Later in the afternoon we visited the town (on foot). There is a river in the middle and the town made an effort to make this a pleasant feature, but it was a bit dowdy in the overcast conditions. The centre is dominated by a wonderful castle – or it would have been wonderful if the Russians had not destroyed it in 1829 during one of the endless wars that affected this region. So there is a large mount of rubble on a high point above the town – best seen from afar.
 We plan to go back to town for dinner but will have to wait until after sundown as it is Ramadan and we don’t want to give offence. The town has a variety of splendid eateries but they were all empty (open but empty) during the day.  

We have 4 more riding days in Turkey and then cross to Georgia. We are back in the mountains but at the moment – fingers crossed – the forecast seems good.

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