November 2009

Curry, Dolma and Wilderness Mountain Biking in Armenia

November 15, 2009 - 8:44am -- admin_2
Tom emailed me last week to tell me he was going to follow an old man on a horse to a hot spring at 3000m. That sounded like my idea of fun so I decided to go to Yerevan and do it. I went to the bus station in Ortachala in Tbilisi at 9.30 am and cycled practically straight onto a Marshrutka (transit van minibus). This dispelled my fears of being able to take the bike in the cramped little bus. I was lucky this time whereas the previous time I had taken a Marshrutka, I had waited for 6 hours for the bus to leave because there were not enough passengers. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (8) I paid 10 lari (about £4) (haggled from 20) to put the bike in the back seats and the usual 30 lari for the fare. I had the back seats to myself until a broad-shouldered babouska boarded the bus which meant I could no longer sit on my seat squarely and had to uncomfortably perch my back against the curvature of the seat. Marshrutka rides are never supposed to be comfortable affairs. Read previous blog post  for a description of a typical Marshrutka journey. The border crossing went smoothly. I need only to pay $10 for a visa giving me 21 days. It used to be a mandatory $50 for 3 months. At lunch time I procured a juicy kebab at the half way rest stop and sat in the winter sun watching the rocky river flowing past. I wondered where the water was coming from, staring up at a dry baron cliff sided valley that the road ran through. Armenian mountain landscape is about as unforgiving and forbidding looking as it comes and I love it. I arrived in Yerevan, unpacked my bike and said goodbye to the giggling Russian girls at the front of the bus who seemed very amused by my bicycle. I remembered the way to Tom's so I pedaled past Republika square, up to the park passing the tall silver 'Mother Armenia' statue and to Tom's flat. Inside he was adding final preparatory touches to a fragrant curry, before allowing it to simmer away for an hour or two whilst he went for an Armenian language lesson. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park Tom told me that the horse-following to the hot spring was off because the hot spring was covered in snow, but we were still going for an epic ride. The next morning we saddled up early and met Tigran, Tom's friend. We racked up the bikes on the back of his car and drove to Garni about 40 km away from Yerevan. We parked next to the Garni temple, which is where we started the ride. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (2) A crisp wintery morning. Mist hung over the hillsides. The strong Asian sun evaporated the morning dew. Some villagers were ambling about sweeping the pavement outside their houses. A truck waited outside the local store, to deliver bread. We passed through the village and descended down a cobbled track to a spring where we filled up the Camelbaks with clear mountain water. A dark green soviet van clattered past. The driver waved and smiled at us, cigarette hanging from his lips. Shortly after we passed a man on horseback who gave us a cheery 'barevzdis'. At the valley bottom, we followed the river up the gorge, passing a fish farm with a huge dog tied up beside the road. Thankfully it was very docile and dozed in the mud instead of take offence with us.  I pedalled along avoiding puddles to prevent getting covered in mud at the beginning of the ride. The land of Armenia is higher in altitude than Georgia. You're already above the tree line so the geography in general is noticeable different. Rocky embankments scattered with hardy shrubs and plants somehow gripping on to the loose dry soil and stone. Although the sun was strong that morning, in the shadow it was colder and I pedalled faster to warm up. The track climbed up to the gate of the Garni natural park and the WWF Norway funded eco-centre - a very quaint and well-constructed looking building with a jolly looking gatekeeper wearing army-issue jacket and trousers and smoking a cigarette. Tigran chatted with him for an extended amount of time. Tom remarked that he is a very intrepid character. He is in the process of collecting GPS and GIS data for the area. Tom mentioned that he is in the habit of chatting at length with anyone knowledgeable he meets in order to further his expertise of the area. I had a good feeling about the ride from when Tom initially mentioned it. I knew when Tigran lifted his bike up off the doubletrack and hauled it up the embankment onto a grassy rocky piece of singletrack sided by heather and wild thyme that I was in my element. Gripped with a layer of frost, the plants and trees looked eroded and weathered, worn out by a struggle to survive in difficult conditions – little rain, freezing winters and scorching summer sun. Now well into autumn, winter was just around the corner, offering no respite. The track trundled delightfully along, through little ruts, and strewn with metamorphic baby-head sized boulders. My legs brushing passed the fragrant shrubs. The path reminded me of paths I used to take on rides in the Yorkshire Dales. Moorland carpetted with low-lying heather. Shale-sprinkled paths which looked like they had formed as naturally as the plants. Perfect for mountain bikes- varied and grippy. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (3) Up we went and passed a family who later we met again at the ruins of a church on a hill. They were gathered to have a barbeque. They had a fire going and big chunks of chicken were being pushed onto long metal skewers ready to be cooked. I started to think of the Basturma (traditional Armenian salty sausage) sandwiches I'd made for lunch. The taste brought back to the forefront of my senses from the slices I'd slyly eaten rather than put in the sandwiches. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (4) Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (6) The next section  of the ride was what is traditionally known in the trade as a 'bike-hike'. The path was invisible to the untrained eye. Luckily we had Tigran with a GPS. That however, proved unhelpful so he asked some people which way. They pointed out a route up the hillside and added that it would be difficult. Unfazed we pushed and crawled with the bikes up a steep rocky path following a wayward gulley full of dry grass, thorny rose bushes, sandy stone with crumbling gravel underfoot. I struggled to find my footing on the loose ground and used my bike as a support. The air became fresher and clearer and the sun felt strong as we emerged onto the top of the first hill. Our altitude now at 1800m above sea level. A dreamlike snowy alpine plateau was visible in the distance it beckoned and awakened my inquisitiveness as if it was the surface of another planet. We stopped to eat some berries, round red ones with a pithy orange fruit inside and Tigran pointed our some bear poo. He said that bears also like to eat those berries, clearly visible from the seeds in the poo. I tried to remember which bear between the brown and black you are supposed to fight and which you are supposed to play dead, as it might come in useful. We decided to stop for lunch in the shadow of a weary looking but sinewy grey barked tree with small yellow and green leaves. It reminded me of a giant Bonzai tree. Lunch consisted of Basturma sandwiches, smoked fish, bread, cheese, corn on the cob, chocolates and then a sleep in the sun – perfect. I awoke after 20 minutes of blissful snoozing feeling refreshed and commented to Tom you never realise how much you need to go to chill out in the mountains until you go and do it. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (9) The simplicity of just having enough for the day ride and not bringing camping stuff was a relief whilst pushing and granny-cranking the bike up challenging steep singletrack. We passed along a track barely a tyre's width wide. It was positioned half way down a fairly steep scree slope with a steep loose rocky embankment leading down into the valley on the other side. It was difficult to make out a path at all. The kind of lunacy I tend to enjoy. I flew myself into it, bringing into play the old mantra of focusing on the track and nothing else so not to fall fail to 'target fixation' and tempt my front wheel to point down the scree hill. The path reached an impossibly rocky doubletrack.  It looked like the boulders had fell there after a impromptu jettison of comets from space. This arduous last major section of climbing was well worth the reward as we reached the plateau and the wonderful tranquil sound of a bubbling mountain stream, stopping to drink and wash the sweat from hot, dusty, and grimy brows atop satisfied facial expressions. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (11) I looked across at the snow on the mountains over the plateau and felt a pull to them but we would not have time to reach them today. We continued on to the edge of a canyon overlooking the Geghard monastery, part of which is built dramatically into the rock. For the next 5 or so km we followed patchy sections of 4x4 track, crossing over boggy pampus grass-patched streams and then off the track across fields with more boulders. After a while I realised it was better to walk than punish the bike as it was akin to riding over corrugated concrete. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (14) Without tracks and landmarks in particular, we were relying on Tigran's GPS and sense of direction. We traversed a shallow gulley. Descending furiously into it, and still pumping from adrenalin I ploughed straight across the river at the bottom as Tom helpfully said- 'it's too deep mate'. I subsequent dabbed my feet, soaking them through- doh! Tigran would say things like 'we should bare left now if we want to head back' or 'head to that far valley to reach the village'. A discussion ensued about remaining daylight and whether we wanted to end up cycling in the dark. Rather than going back the short route which would have have meant a large proportion of the descent on the road, we headed towards the canyon on the edge of the plateau. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (16) The epic canyon came into view as we approached. The distant landscape descended into the afternoon haze. A river meandered it's way along the canyon bottom. Shrubs and trees clung on for dear life to the side of the rocky crags. The ensuing descent was a rocky doubletrack following the edge of the shear cliffs which plummeted down to the village below. We scooted and skidded, dodging boulders and rutted gulleys. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (12) Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (19) At the bottom we ended up, by accident, in the farmstead of one of the villagers, guarded by numerous dogs enraged with the scent of cyclist in the air.  The lady sent us back the correct way and we found the track that lead us through the village and continued descended down into the valley bottom and followed the river. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (20) Tigran told us that 'it was a good village' and one of only a few in Armenia that still doesn't receive electricity. Late afternoon sun glowed orange upon the upper hillsides which were still catching the sun as I followed the track which would lead us back to the gates of the park. I passed a man walking up the hill. I said 'I don't speak Armenian', he replied in English – 'Armenia, very beautiful country', and I agreed 'yes, very'. Hungry and by now pretty tired we hauled ourselves back to the car. On the way we met the same green soviet bus that we had seen in the morning. Tigran managed to get towed by it up the steep cobbled road into the village. Tom was determined to ride and cursed as his tyres slipped on algae covered stones. Admirably he managed to ride the entire climb back up into the village. However, his achievement obviously went to his head a little. Riding along the road in the village, Tigran was chased by a nasty dog that was snarling at his ankles. In response he tried to kick it in the head multiple times. Tom, on a herioc high from the climb obviously thought he would try to aid his friend, and swerved his bike towards the dog. The outcome of this was that Tom somehow managed to lose control of the bike, flip over the handlebars and role along the ground. The dog, seeing this crazed human appearing to go extreme lengths to attack him/her (sorry I didn't check), understandably dismissed his pursuit, stopped chasing Tigran and thoughtfully wandered off. I imagine it would make him think twice about chasing bicycles in the future, but I doubt it. Tom was relatively unscathed other than a bruised ego, grazed hands and knee. We headed back to Yerevan and ate delicious dolma cooked by Tenny. The ride demonstrated to me the potential for mountain biking and the beauty of the Armenian landscape. It also sparked my enjoyment of being in wild places. Inside me, I felt something draw closer to what I was looking for in terms of an idyllic wilderness riding experience. 40 km from a capital city it was possible to immerse oneself in tranquil nature with views of snow covered mountain plateaus. Tracks running across country lent themselves ideally to challenging wilderness treks by bike. No matter what other future plans I make, I feel that the area of the Caucasus, the countryside of Georgia and Armenia is growing more deeply rooted in my mind, and I hope to explore further routes with new found (and old friends). Tigran, Tom and I are planning another 2 day ride before I return at Christmas to England. Armenia, Garni - November 2009 - Mountain Biking Garni National Park (5)

A Caucausus Mountain Bike adventure in Khevsureti

November 10, 2009 - 8:44am -- admin_2
Tom, David and I went for a bike ride into the Caucasus mountains of Georgia. I'd been planning it for a while and I wanted to get some proper riding in before the snows descended. Tom arrived on the Sunday but leaving was delayed until Tuesday. To pass the time we decided to build up my new Kona Caldera frame, ate Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) and deejayed in Tbilisi at a cafe at the TV tower. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (20) On Tuesday evening we rode through the streets of Tbilisi to the bus station where David negotiated putting our three bikes and kit in the back of one of the old Soviet buses. The bus trundled the 35km to Zhinvali where we would begin our ride and where we would stay the first night with David's grandmother. We were dutifully plied with armfuls of freshly picked apples and ate plates of lobiani (bean stew) and then got an early night ready for an early start the following morning. Anyway, there were no lights in the house and hadn't been for an entire year because another local resident wouldn't pay their electricity bill so all the street's supply was cut off. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride More bean stew for breakfast and then we made tracks, following the highway for 5 km to the turn off for Shatilli. From there it was a mixture of poorly maintained, pot-hole covered asphalt and dirt-track. We passed chickens and cows being herded along by a farmer and people popping out to get fresh puri (bread) from the local baker. The first eye-popping vista of many was at the man-made Zhinvali lake. The expanse of deep-emerald water stretched far away into the distant valley, white horses dancing briskly over the water's surface. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (39)Evidence of the changing season could be seen everywhere; bright autumnal shades of red, yellow and brown created a visual feast like paint daubed onto a canvas. The lush foliage was like a elixir for the soul. I felt glad to escape from the 'data' of everyday living into soothing natural surroundings. The beauty of the surrounding valley was about as idyllic as I could hope for. Auburn-coloured trees on steep brown valley sides were interspersed with vein-like waterfalls, deciduous trees shed their leaves and clung onto the lower hills. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (4) A majestic river flowed along the valley bottom and gradually became thinner, rockier and faster flowing as we progressed. David said there were some big fish in the waters. I imagined a dinner of mountain salmon sizzling over a fire. We rarely saw a soul on the road. Occasionally we passed a man on a horse or a donkey or an old soviet van bellowing grey smoke. Not used to the loaded bike I struggled to get into a rhythm and knocked the wheels clumsily over rocks with misplaced steering maneuvers. A bus drove past and threw up a cloud of dust as school kids waved and shouted out of the window at us. Before the ride began, I decided to switch to SPDs (Shimano clip-less pedals) which would allow my boots to attach to the pedals for efficiency of pedalling. But I began to get knee twinges, an old injury that had come back to haunt me from the end of my last trip to India.  I had to stop to make adjustments to try to find a sweet spot in the positioning of the cleat but with every change I made the pain would start to creep back. I couldn't get them right and would have to conceed that my knee needed to be allowed more flexibility only afforded by using flat pedals. David was free of luggage and rode ahead and Tom, finding the pace a little fast, dragged behind. He cursed his fitness but could hardly be blamed after his recent wedding celebrations. Tom's mindset when he visits Georgia is to consume as much delicious Georgian food as possible. As lunchtime neared, bowls of steaming Ostri (a traditional spicy Georgian beef stew) could be seen rotating round in his eyes. Unfortunately the restaurant in the next village was closed so we settled for chocolate bars and some puffed rice crisps, that didn't really warrant the effort of eating which was rather disappointing. The promise of Ostri in the next village, Barisakhlo, 25km away, was a good motivator. The village was positioned just before the start of the big off-road climb towards Shatilli and was our aim for the end of the day and camping. However, initially, we planned to get all the way to Shatilli which was 96 km away from the road, but we were overoptimistic. At Barisakhlo we decided to load up with food and camp the night at the next opportunity as the light was already starting to fail. We stopped at a shop to buy cheese. The lady pottered off to her house and returned with an entire cow's cheese, two kilo's worth, so we bought half. The cheese was strong and pungent. Tom described it as both 'wrong' and 'on another level'. David bought a couple of huge loaves of bread from a farm. I asked him how much they were and he said 1.50 lari. I replied 'that's expensive compared to the normal 70 tetri'. Then I saw the bread; two huge, heavy loaves that reminded me of the Trabzon loaves in Turkey. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (9) Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (12) We diverted off the road down the next suitable looking side-track onto an area of grass and  building ruins. David told us that in Soviet times, it had been a village purpose built for workers building a tunnel from Georgia to Russia through the mountain. The construction had apparently stopped for the dubious reason that there could be an accident where an oil tanker could spill into the river and pollute the Tbilisi drinking water. Perhaps, I mused, it was more a paranoia that the water might be deliberately poisoned or a multitude of other conspiracy theories. Sharing the same camping area were a group of student alpinists who had been living there for a month doing expeditions into the mountains and a drunken shepherd who seemed mostly concerned with consuming vodka and pilfering cigarettes from anyone who would donate. In exchange he would offer a tale or twelve. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (10) David built a huge bonfire and released the pyromaniac within. He claimed, with a great sincerity in his eyes, that it was to ward off giant red wolves. Not convinced we settled down to a dinner of potato, pea and noodle stew accompanied by dried fish, hunks of bread and gas-inducing cheese washed down with beer. It a cold night but I had no idea, tucked up in my -25 sleeping bag and slept wonderfully. However, David emerged in the morning shivvering from his thinner sleeping bag. Shortly after leaving we stopped to investigate the entrance of the big derelict concrete tunnels at the foot of the off-road mountain climb. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (15) It was another beautiful sunny day with no sign of snow clouds in the sky as yet. As we emerged up through the treeline, the white and black mountain peaks could be seen clearly. David explained he could also see the same peaks from his village near Gudauri to the west. Tom increasingly needed rest stops and David increasingly crept ahead which started to cause a bit of interpersonal bother, culminating in a point at which they both said they were ready to go back to Tbilisi. A bit of diplomacy and compromise meant we tentatively continued. The terrain certainly wasn't easy going with loaded bikes and steep rocky tracks; more masochistic than fun. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (18) Hills with steep grassy banks lead up to into-thin-air cliff sides as passed a village nested beside the river in the valley bottom, guard dogs barked at us from the houses. Other singular houses, lonely up on the hillside, made me wonder who lived there and their lifestyles; houses cobbled together from any building materials available. We saw a couple of trucks loaded with supplies for Shatilli, probably helping to stock up before the road passes were snowed under and impassable. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (25) The hillsides gradually became more sparsely vegetated as we passed the tree line and you could feel the temperature dropping. Sheep and cattle grazed lazily whilst shepherds and their dogs watched wearily from afar. Occasionally David would stop to chat to a local and ask about the weather. David decided it would be a good idea to stock up with another half kilo of cheese for some unknown reason. Having refused to eat our potato and noodle stew the night before he preferred to stick to Georgian fare of bread and cheese. For the last section of the climb, the process of pedaling had become very painful for Tom, who was complaining of knee problems, and had slowed to a crawling pace. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (29) We reached the pass at about 5.30pm. The overriding positive outcome of the journey, so far, was that Tom and David had managed to settle their differences and we all stuck together; a reminder of the perils of group expeditions. At the pass, there was a table for a supra (a traditional Georgian toasting session), along with a single memorial cross, some candles and a bottle of vodka. I took a couple of swigs to toast the dead, the liquid was raw and strong and seemed a fitting addition to the remoteness and wildness of the location. A decision making process ensued about whether to descend down to the village of Shatilli or to head back. It was about to get dark and we couldn't camp where we were because David didn't have a warm enough sleeping bag. It would definitely be into minus figures as we were at the snowline. Descending down to Shatilli would mean repeating the 25km 1200m climb the next day, which Tom didn't want to do so we made the slightly difficult but correct decision to descend back down the way we came Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (30) I was determined to get some good film footage but I now had little time to do it before darkness set it. I filmed David speeding down the track flying across the environment. I put the camera away and followed. Not quite as fun with a bike loaded with stuff but still thrilling. The darkness gradually set in, the sky was purple, mixed into pale orange and blue as the last remnants of the sun's light filtered through the atmosphere. Tom laying on the ground and filmed David and I skimming his ear with our knobblies kicking dust into the camera lenses silhouetted against the backdrop of the mountains. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (31) The rest of the descent was by the light of our combined head-torches. Thinking back, it's astonishing that it's possible to descend 20km in the dark on a thin track with a shear drop to the side without light. We were chased by a pack of Caucasian hounds which whined, barked and bounded along at our ankles. It was comforting not to be able to see them. We safely made it back to the campsite. We sat around the campfire and he told me stories about his meetings with Russian girls going skiing in Gudauri and other tales. The following morning we found that we had befriended a dog because in the night it had raided our rubbish and food leftovers. Once we began cycling, it bounded along behind us. After a while it  probably regretted the decision as the only thing I had to feed it was the repugnant cheese. However, we protected the dog from other packs of wild dogs by throwing stones. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (34) After 25 kilometres of running beside us, I had developed a fondness for the dog. However, thoughtlessly we lost it on a downhill and as quickly as our friendship had been bonded it was sadly broken. I hope the dog, which somehow got the name of Robinson Winston Dog-Friday, managed to survive in it's new location. We returned to David's village and completed the ride with a feast of Khinkhali (meat dumplings) and Katchapuri (cheese pizza), washed down with flagons of beer. Georgia, Khevsureti - October 2009 - Caucasus mtb ride (27) It was a good introduction to self-supported off-road trips. Next time I plan to minimise the equipment further and the Extrawheel trailer could be combined with a  full suspension bike for more comfortable off-road riding. I think the Extrawheel a better choice than panniers for off-road trips because it reduced stress on the bike frame and provides better bike handling. I really enjoyed the trip, the off-road, and the tranquility of the mountains. It was important that we managed to overcome the differences between the different members of our small group. There is a deeper communication that exists between humans and the environment that can only be connected to when you get out into the true wilds; a peace in the complexity and wonder of nature which is calming and life-affirming. More photos on my Flickr account here. Video from the trip:

Borjomi Mountain Bike Rides

November 24, 2009 - 6:02pm -- admin_2
Please enquire about mountain bike tours and rides in Borjomi via the contact form.  

Tbilisi Mountain Bike Rides

November 24, 2009 - 6:08pm -- admin_2
  • Name: Three Fortresses
  • Distance: 25km
  • Fitness: 3/5
  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Time: 5 hrs
The three fortresses ride covers the Tbilisi valley and heads up past the turtle lake, climbing to 800m on stony singletrack with great views over the city and the Caucasus and then we descend on a twisting narrow forest singletrack into the village of Tsavkesi. From the village we head above the botanical gardens and visit the 'Changing-Colour' Monastery - 'Peritsvaleba' followed by a challenging rocky singletrack which descends into the old city and we visit the Metexi church; a unique place where Jews and Muslims pray together. The ride ends with a well-earned Georgian feast and relaxing dip in the natural Tbilisi hot sulphur baths.
  • Name: Sheomrvemay Monastery
  • Distance: 28km
  • Fitness: 1/5
  • Difficulty: 1/5
  • Time: 5 hrs
We take a minibus to Mskhreta, the ancient old capital of Georgia (1000 yrs older than Moscow) and visit the Svete Tsovereli Church and then take a dirt road undulating through beautiful Georgian countryside up to the Sheomrvemay Monastery. There is time to rest, relax and take photos before heading back to Mshreta for the best Khinkali (traditional Georgian dumplings).
  • Name: King Tamar Trail
  • Distance: 35km
  • Fitness: 3/5
  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Time: 5 hrs
King Tamar was the most important king in Georgia. She (yes she) was the first woman to rule Georgia in her own right and presided over the "Golden age" of the medieval Georgian monarchy. We take a bus to Tskhneti and immediately get into a  seven kilometre singletrack downhill twisting through dense forest to the village of Akhal Daba. A challenging downhill on stony singletrack opens up to a beautiful mountain gorge and the Vere River. Here we visit the Monastery Bettania, and take a rest on the grassy meadow below. The Georgian's say you will feel revitalised resting at this sacred religious place. Legend has it that King Tamar had a vision to build a church there in a dream but when the workers started building and fell asleep one night, God decided they had got the wrong place and moved the church to it's rightful location.

Caucasus Mountain Bike Rides

November 24, 2009 - 6:29pm -- admin_2

Overview:

  • Ride the desert Steppe and visit the Davit Gareji cave monastery
  • Visit the beautiful renovated city of Signaghi
  • Drink wine in the famous Khaxeti Wine Region
  • Visit Georgian villages in the mountains e.g. Tianeti
  • Experience the Caucasus mountains
  • Ride the Kazbegi and Gudauri areas

Day 1 - The Ride of the Asyrians

Distance: 38km Fitness: 2/5 Difficulty: 2/5 Time: 1 Day We take a bus to Jandara on the desert steppe and follow a sandy soil dirt track road which undulates through the mysterious landscape for 18km to the famous Davit Gareji cave monastery where monks still live in the hillside. We take in views over the Azeribaijan plains and visit the old cave dwellings of the monks. After a rest and picnic it is 30km back to the town of Sagaredjo where we eat lunch and drive to Signaghi to stay the night.

Day 2 - Winos Ride

Distance: 52km Fitness: 3/5 Difficulty: 2/5 Time: 1 Day We start from the guest house in the renovated city of Sinaghi and head to the Nino monastery. This day's ride is a road tour through the villages and countryside of the famous wine region, Khaxeti, where wine was invented. We stop in Tsnaldali to taste the wine and then have a picnic in the at the house, gardens and museum of the most famous writer in Georgia. We sleep and eat in Telavi.

Day 3 - Patera Caucasus

Distance: 48km Fitness: 2/5 Difficulty: 3/5 Time: 1 day Leaving Telavi we climb on the road through beautiful countryside with views of the Caucasus and arrive at the village of Tianeti. We eat fresh fish, mushrooms, have a barbeque for dinner and stay the night in Telavi.

Day 4 - Mtiuletti Mountain Explorer

Distance: 44km Fitness: 3/5 Difficulty: 3/5 Time: 1 day We start the day with a downhill through wild forest, perhaps lucky to spot a wolf or a bear heading down to the Ginveli region, where we take a bus transfer to Passanauri. We climb for 7km up to a village called Mleta, then back down to the bus which takes us to Gudauri at 2680m. A dirt road for 30km through the mountains  takes us to Kazbegi threading through pure mountain territory.

Day 5 - Ride Kazbegi

Distance: 30km Fitness: 4/5 Difficulty: 5/5 Time: 1 day In the shadow of the majestic mountain peaks of Kazbegi we climb on 4x4 track up to the Gurgetis Jameba Church and descend back down. You'll have to trust us on this one but it's just awesome, end of story. --End of planned program itinerary--

FAQs

November 24, 2009 - 6:56pm -- admin_2
Georgia,Tbilisi. Khada [lang_en] Our rides can be tailor made to your requirements and we can help you out with all aspects of your trip. If you have any questions about the services of Georiders, hopefully you can find answers to them here. If not please feel free to contact us. Q: How do I choose where to ride? A: Currently we offer the choice of a tailor made holiday picking from a combination of any of the rides or a pre-planned ride itinerary of your choice. Q: I'm a beginner and want to improve my skills. A: You can specify the level of technical riding and our English speaking guides will help you to improve as a rider. Q: I don't want to ride for a whole week. A: You can ride for as long or as short as you want. You can ride one day with us or 6, it's up to you. Q: I don't know Tbilisi. How can I find my way around and get set up? A: We can offer assistance with transport and transfers and hotel, restaurant and guesthouse booking. (Prices for this and restaurant costs are not included in the bike hire / guiding fees unless stated). Q: How much does it cost? A: See the tour pricing page, or call David Chokheli  on +995 (8) 98 944 555 or email georidersmtb at gmail.com [/lang_en] [lang_ge] ყველაზე ხშირად დასმული კითხვები და პასუხები ჩვენი ველო ტურების შესახებ. თუ რაიმე კითხვა გაქვთ ჯეორიდერების სერვისის შესახებ, ვიმედოვნებთ რომ აქ იპოვით პასუხებს. თუ ვერ ნახეთ ის პასუხი რაც თქვენ გაინტერესებთ, მაშინ გთხოვთ დაგვიკავშირდით საკონტაქტო მაილის საშვალებით contact us. კ: რომელი ველო ტური ამოვირჩიო? პ: ჩვენ გაძლევთ არჩევანს  რომელ ველო ტურში გნებავთ  წასვლა, თქვენ სურვილზეა დამოკიდებული. ჩვენ ვაწყობთ ველო ტურებს ყველა მიმართულებით. კ: მე დამწყები ვარ და მინდა გავაუმჯობესო ჩემი ველოსიპედის ტარების შესაძლებლობები. პ: ჩვენ გვაქვს სხვადასხვა სირთულის გზა თქვენი ფიზიკური შესაძლებლობებიდან გამომდინარე. ჩვენი გიდები დაგეხმარებიან და მოგცემენ რჩევებს რათა გაამჯობესოთ თქვენი ფიზიკური შესაძლებლობები. კ: მე არ მინდა ერთ კვირიანი ტური. პ: ჩვენ გვაქვს ხანმოკლე და ხანგრძლივი ველო ტურები. თქვენ შეგიძლიათ აირჩიოთ ერთ დღიანი ან უფრო ხანგრძლივი ველო ტურები, ეს გამომდინარეობს თქვენი ნება სურვილიდან. კ: მე არ ვიცი რა წამოვიღო ველო ტურის დროს? პ: წამოიღეთ  პიკნიკისთვის საჭმელი, მინერალური წყალი და დამატებით გამოსაცვლელი ტანისამოსი. (სადილი არ შედის ველო ტურის ფასში.) კ: რამდენი ღირს ველო ტური? პ: იხილეთ ველო ტურის ფასი  tour pricing page, ან დაურეკეთ დავით ჩოხელს +995 (8) 98 944 555 or email georidersmtb at gmail.com  [/lang_ge]

Rental

November 24, 2009 - 6:57pm -- admin_2
Time Price (Georgian Lari)
1 day 70
2 days 140
3 days 150
1 week 275

Bikes

Cross-country mountain bikes from GT, Kona and Ideal Bikes. Please call David Chokheli on: +995 (8) 98 944 555 or email georidersmtb at gmail.com ჩვენ გვაქვს საკუთარი ველოსიპედების გაქირავება, რომლის გაქირავების ღირებულება 1 დღეში შეადგენს = 70 ლარს ან (30 ევროს). ჩვენი ველოსიპედები არის ქროს - ქანთრის GT, Kona და Ideal ის ბრენდის ფირმის მთის ველოსიპედები. ბიზნესისი გაფართოვების მიზნით ჩვენ ვაპირებთ დამატებით ახალი ველოსიპედების შეძენას სხვადასხვა სტილის ტარებისათვის, მაგალითად როგორიც არის დაუნჰილი. ასევე ვაპირებთ მოვიმარაგოთ უფრო მეტი რიგი საშვალებებისა ჩვენი მომხმარებლისათვის, როგორიც არის GPS-ი, რუკები, წყლის ბოთლები, სხვადასხვა ხელსაწყოები და ა.შ. გთხოვთ დაუკავშირდეთ დავით ჩოხელს მობილურზე +995 (8) 98 944 555 ან იმეილზე georidersmtb at gmail.com

Blog

November 26, 2009 - 3:55pm -- admin_2

GPS Routes

November 26, 2009 - 9:56pm -- admin_2
We will soon be featuring downloadable GPS routes on Georiders and the ability to upload your own routes combined with OpenStreetMap.

Featured Ride

November 26, 2009 - 9:57pm -- admin_2
Featured Ride