March 2015

Mountain Biking for Adventure and Sustainable Tourism in Georgia

March 3, 2015 - 10:34am -- admin

Rati Japaridze’s background is in environmental policy andmanagement in Georgia. He recently left his position as the Chairman of the Agency of Protected Areas where he was responsible for the organization in Tbilisi and around the country. The organization has implemented projects that are helping to protect and conserve Georgia’s unique environment and support the sustainable development of Tourism in the region.

How I got into biking

My affection with biking started at a time when there were not really many bikers in the streets of Tbilisi. In the distant 2002 while working for USAID one of my American colleagues sent out an email about the sale of a bike. I don’t know what struck me but I decided to allocate USD 80 from my budget and to buy a bike right away. It was a strange decision... Not counting my childhood years at 10-11 years of age, I had never biked. Neither had I any friends who could have inspired me to bike.

Never took the opportunity in New York

As strange as it may be I also never biked in New York, where I lived for two years during my graduate studies and where all the conditions for biking existed – transport was expensive, I was short on money and my dorm was a biking distance from the University where I studied. I bought that bike and regretted only one single thing after one month –what a fool I’d been that I’d never biked before!

Georgia and Biking

Georgia is truly a great place for mountain biking (though not for urban biking). The country has beautiful scenery, lots of forests and mountains, scenic view points, water springs on the way to refuel for water, friendly people living on the way always willing to give a hand – what else can one wish for?

Possibility for Adventure

For someone who is short on money, loves adventures, is willing to explore the country and pursues a healthy life style – biking is the right thing to do! Thanks to biking I’ve discovered so many places both quite close and far away from my home, where I always wanted to go and distance served as an impediment. Biking was the answer to an intrinsic characteristic of my personality that was my curiosity!

Going the Distance

Back in 2012 I made my first long distance trip from Tsalka to Batumi via The Goderdzi pass. Even now I remember the tremble and excitement that preceded the day of my departure. I was alone and my bike was not a great one. But my curiosity, a desire to explore and to endure adventures finally overcame the indecision whether to set out or not for 150+ km trip over the rugged terrain.

Convinced about Bike Travel

It was exactly that trip that made me convinced that the best experience comes with bike travel – enjoying nature and what is more important meeting new and nice people along the way…

New Journey Ideas

This Spring I have another adventurous plan on my mind. A new Georgian – Turkish border crossing is expected to open sometime in Spring in Kartskakhi (Javakheti region), from where the Turkish city of Ani (the ancient Armenian capital once even liberated by a Georgian King in the twelfth century) is around 100 kms away. I was once there years ago as a mini-van traveler in 2004.

A Ruined City

Ani is in my top 10 most impressive sites that have I visited in my lifetime in 59 foreign countries. This ruined city is a must see for anyone who appreciates history and simply looks for great places. And the best way to see it is through biking!

An Invitation

What I need is the right company of like-minded individuals – who love biking, enjoy nature, appreciate and respect the cultural heritage of others and simply enjoy life! So whoever is interested can contact me @ ratijaparidze (at) gmail.com