Georgia On My Mind

Riding in Central Georgia

I’ve finally come off the bike! The first spill has been made, as well as two others. After over 6,000 mills of accident-free riding, I’ve now had three falls in just two days. Oops. I do know how to ride though – honest. I shall explain..

But first… Eastern Turkey was beautiful. Really pretty, and great for driving or riding any sort of bike. If you’re a biker and you want to explore something further afield than the Alps or the Pyrenees then eastern Turkey should be on your list. I bumped into (not literally) five German guys on a motorcycle tour of Turkey and Georgia so I rode with them through east Turkey, almost up to the Iranian border. Very exotic 🙂 The Kurdish people were great fun to meet, but it took a while to make road progress as every time we fueled up, they always wanted to share tea (Turkish tea – cay) and then introduce you to all of their family. Not just occasionally, but every time. Great fun.

We made it to Georgia, via mount Ararat, grabbed a proper town centre hotel (that didn’t take card payments!) and headed out for food. Of course, some local biker chaps spotted the array of six big adventure bikes in the town centre so they found us and took us to a restaurant owned by one of them. One slap up meal and a gallon of wine later (no charge, as we were fellow bikers) and the day was done.

Right. That’s the Germans/Turkey/Georgia border crossing covered.

I left my new friends and set off north. Bloody hell – Georgia has very few sealed roads, but everybody is crazy sociable. Vehicles bouncing towards me would slow down, beep, wave at me to stop, shake my hand, smile, say something that I don’t understand and then carry on their journey to wherever. With hindsight, they were probably laughing because they knew what the road had in store for me.

The scenery in Georgia is everything that people say that it is, assuming that you’re not in a town. It is stunning here and I’m utterly failing to do it justice with the camera 🙁

The riding. Route: Athalksikhe-Abastumani-Bagdati-Tsageri-Mestia. It looked easy enough on the map, with roads and towns and bridges. No problem.


I’ve covered less than two hundred miles in two full and exhausting days of riding. Hairpin bends on steep inclines where the surface is just exposed bedrock. Steep inclines with a sheer drop to one side where the road surface is actually a flowing stream. Sections of sheer mud with huge rises and falls and deep muddy water traps. Gravel the size of tennis balls. Etc etc.

The three accidents were all nothing-falls really – just getting stuck in mud and not keeping the power on, so the bike stalled and toppled. Silly, and made through fatigue. No harm done though, save that I now have a slightly misshapen gear lever. I shall wrangle that back into shape tomorrow no problem.

Most of the locals here have 4×4 vehicles, of course, but there are sections of road today that would require serious driving skills even with a Land Rover or a big Toyota.

In short, I feel like I’ve accomplished something difficult (with a good measure of luck involved) and I’m now in Mestia. It’s frustrating to be so close to Russia knowing that I have to head back south to Turkey and then get a boat to Sochi, but the vistas here make up for it and more!

A bike cleaning/fixing day tomorrow (after a much needed lazy morning) and then a pootle towards Zugdidi on Friday. I really hope the road to Zugdidi is better. It must be, otherwise I fail to see how Mestia would keep itself supplied with food, fuel and such. That road had no trucks on it at all, and I’d like to see someone try to take an articulated lorry along some of the more gnarly bits.

P.S. When crossing into Georgia from the south, don’t ask the police if they know anything about the north border crossing with Russia. They don’t like the Russians and it will get your passport rechecked and raise eyebrows.

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