“Tower of Love, The Entry Price 1 Gel” by Daniel Wakefield Pasley. That’s what I wanted to call this article originally because it was going to be about Tourism. About how most of the time on this channel we don’t do Tourism in the classic sense, we do some kinda elevated or considered or whatever version of Tourism in the form of adventure and bike riding. But the more I thought about it the more I got bored with that idea. Also, it turns out adventure and bike riding ARE Tourism, so what’s the point? When Kyle and I first talked about this article theme in last week’s editorial meeting11Reader, we have those, we have editorial meetings. Mostly on Mondays but not always, in fact I think this particular meeting was on a Wednesday we were lite-preoccupied with how this route, our route, is actually a VERY WELL-ESTABLISHED trekking route. Like, it’s definitely world-renowned if not world-famous (I’m fucking with you because what’s the difference? I don’t think there is one, in fact I just checked dictionary.com and there is no difference). Anyway, my point is that we passed many groups of trekkers, day hikers, quadders, mountain boarders, bird watchers, etc., who were clearly from all over the world. If the footwear and flair aren’t enough to tell, language seals it. Also, more frequently than not we stopped to visit with them, as is custom in and around the world’s better-trafficked alpine thoroughfares, at which point many of them said things like Shalom, my name is Yael, my friends and I are from Israel, we’re trekking the Caucasus, and oh, yes, Ushguli is lovely you will be sure to enjoy it, the village is a UNESCO World Heritage site, try the salt! So yeah like I said, lots of international action up there in the Caucasus, on a route that’s basically as well-known if not better-known than the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), headed to the St Moritz x Taj Mahal of Georgia the same way thousands and thousands of others have before us, to do, roughly, some variation of the same thing everyone else has done. Is doing. Will do. Only with bikes.
It’s not like we dragged bikes in the dirt behind us on a crowded, guided walking tour of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. But we didn’t exactly do any trailblazing on this one. Have you ever painted by numbers?, me neither but listen it’s not important, what’s important is that we didn’t care. We did this willingly, maybe even lustily. While the truth is, as you know, that we were a little pressed for time and support in regards to the organization of a Tazer and the route, the second it dawned on us that our best option was to effectively go to not-Russia with more than enough time to (legally) ride THE BEST sections of the PCT except with huts, hostels and hotels in every village of which there were many, all conveniently spaced-out in the verdant valleys of Europe’s tallest mountains, equipped with robust WiFi and supernatural salts, in the midst of day-hikeable glacier after day-hikeable glacier and those Game of Thrones towers, we happily let it happen. Because us.
“We’ve never really been pioneers doing pioneering, you know that. That’s why God invented Steve Doom Fassbinder and Jon Bailey.”
That’s not our thing and it never has been. Sure, the elevation over Sunchulli Pass (16,700 feet) in Bolivia was rugged and that time we had to work a griz in British Columbia was a little rowdy, but we’re not packrafting Class IV glacial rapids or wading through the Darien Gap at night. We’re pussies, in the grand scheme of things. And this Georgian Campaign, well, this is just us being us. Also, don’t act like you didn’t know it already. And now that you know, do you care, are you surprised, does it matter?
I want to get through this as fast as possible so I’m going to use a list, lists are an effective mechanic for this kind of thing. Also I’m going to be as terse as possible but terse is not easy for me so be advised.
- In the beginning Experience meant Adventure,
- Adventure meant Epic, and Epic meant, well, Epic.
Then we got tired and old, and bored with a one-dimensional approach to Experience.
- So we slowed down and re-prioritized. We moved haunted tunnels, swimming holes and go-kart tracks to the top of the list.
- Which led to this, a 10-mile day up a road—featuring several lunch stops—next to a river on the way to a bar with magic hot pockets and a view (kinda) of Shkhara Glacier.
- No judgment, if you want to crush you should crush.
- But we’re not crushing anymore. We checked, and crushing is less fun than not crushing. The future of bike-packing for us is camping and the ‘ole hub-n-spoke. And this Trans-Svaneti version of the PCT.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just trying to justify being lazy. I wouldn’t put it past me. Or maybe I’m advocating for a more nuanced concept of a multi-day Experience of the World by bike. Because like, well, bike riding as a means to an end is scientifically more interesting than “landscape blasting.”
“Jesus, I’m 890 words into this thing, I checked, and all I’ve really said is that we, Yonder Journal, are now firmly in the Rose Smelling camp—as if that wasn’t clear from the start two years ago.”
Listen, with all this in mind here is a collection of our Georgian Roses; in the meantime, all you need to know about this particular day (Day 04) is that we had fun riding up a short road to a internationally-noteworthy town: