Barking dogs wake me several times during the night. As I pack my gear one rather irritating mutt barks for half an hour non stop. If I approach he runs away, only to return and continue his racket.
The flags outside the petrol station indicate a tail wind - good start to the day. The road is flat and for the first time in days I'm able to zip along. I stop in Erzincan - and am greeted by many friendly and curious people. At the second of three cay stops I meet Serkan - a Turkish cycle tourer. He shows me his website and his sponsors. We have a good natter. I regretfully decline his offer of accommodation whining that I have to make Iran soon and there's some big hills and strong wind between me and the border. Being a fellow tourer he understands - but demonstrates his wonderful hospitality by loading me up with caffeine and then free food for the road. Thanks Serkon!
Once back on the road the wind is not so favourable, and somehow becomes a slight headwind. I have to start declining and ignoring offers of cay in fear that I wont get anywhere today.
Little more to report. Great views! Erzincan is on a plateau at 1185m either side of which snowy (skiable) mountains extend skyward. Way ahead of me in the distance I can see the mountains close in and grow. I know my road goes up there somewhere - my excitement is diluted with apprehension (Erzurum has a reputation for very harsh winters - lowest recorded temps being -37C). Fortunately the forecast for my visit is a comparatively tropical -20C.
Set up my camp under a small bridge where I hope to escape the frost. Use the last of the light to cook. Lentils, cabbage, onion, garlic and chilli - real food, check me out! Stu would be proud!