September 2013

jamesdean's picture

Mountain biking in the Republic of Georgia

Sitting down to write this blog it hits me that the last month has been quite eventful for Georiders.

We've been on tour twice to Tusheti, a mountainous region in the North of Georgia that borders Chechnya and the Russian federation. Once for Research and Development of the 2014 Georiders Caucuses Traverse tour. We were riding fully loaded bikes and self supported for this one which is a big ask when you're climbing 34km to a pass with a vertical ascent of over 2km and with an extra 10-15 kilos of kit on board. And that was just the first day! The second time was in support of the Agency of Protected area’s MTB tour to publicize the use of the National Forests for recreation, this time it was vehicle supported and the 34km/2km vertical climb was covered in 3.5-4 hours by most riders, leaving us plenty of time to enjoy a 21km descent on the other side of the pass. The APA http://www.apa.gov.ge/?site-lang=en is responsible for the Protected areas of Georgia including the National forests, historical sites, Nature reserves and area’s that contain endangered flora and fauna. There are many of these areas in Georgia which you can see in the interactive map on the APA website ( link above). It's great for us to be involved with the agency and offer our support for such a great cause.

We also participated in another APA sponsored bike tour in Kakheti, the wine region of Georgia, covering 45 Kms from Ilia’s lake to Laghodeki through some fantastic scenery to promote cycling and to mark the formation of the Lagodekhi Nature reserve which is 101 years old this year. Both tours received plenty of press coverage and hopefully will have inspired more Georgians to take up cycling.

As well as the tours Dato and I have been advising on a project to realize the first purpose built MTB trail here in the Republic of Georgia, which will hopefully come to fruition in 2014. Wandering around the Tbilisi National Forest trying to identify or visualize lines, trails, natural features and places to add man made features that will give locals the incentive to ride a purpose built trail out of the city whilst they are so spoilt by the myriad of spectacular trails around the city.

In between these bits and pieces we’ve been getting out on our local trails as much as possible ( or as much as our wives will tolerate with both Dato and I having new additions to our families!) And what are the local trails here in Tbilisi like? Well, we’re fortunate enough to be able to cycle pretty much in any direction out of the city and within 10 minutes be at the start of a climb that will take us way above the city onto superb single or double track and on a loop that, not only makes you feel like you’re riding deep in the wilderness, but always delivers a great descent at the end, I mean a 20- 30 minute great descent, along with an ear to ear smile! Which, makes it all the more difficult to build a trail half an hour drive from the city which will be good enough to draw riders to it on a regular basis, but we’ll see what we can do!

So what about the Tusheti tours? Well, I hope you'll read the next blog when I’ll write more about them and add a few photos and videos so you can see why The Republic of Georgia is such a mountain bikers’ paradise.

Oh, and who am I? I’m James 1/3rd of the Georiders team. I arrived in Tbilisi 2 years ago after cycling from Leeds, England where after 20 years in the fashion and newspaper industries, I’d decided the whole work/ buy ethic was ultimately flawed and didn’t deliver the kind of happiness it promises. But that’s a whole other story I suppose...

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