At any rate, the deciding factor was some miscommunication about dates. The details are boring. The bottom line is this: a month before our trip, in a mild panic, we booked tickets to Tbilisi, the capital city. We figured that in time, the rest would work itself out. We had no guide, no route and no plan, just plane tickets. Also, no internet access or time to properly plan the trip for another two weeks. Which, when you do the math means this: we did all the planning for our trip (from scratch) in the 14 days leading up to our departure. Maybe that sounds easy to you. Maybe it is easy, who knows? But it stressed us out, like big time. I mean, we can and do run loose sometimes, but this felt egregiously, maybe even gratuitously, loose. But it worked out; here’s how it all worked out:
- With Kyle’s help we called Joey Schusler, an adventurer, photographer, and videographer who was integral in pulling together the Bike Magazine Kazbegi project. He told us about Rooms Tbilisi. Soooo good. Thanks, Rooms Tbilisi.
- We found this site and emailed its author. He responded, we skyped, he was SUPER helpful. We could have done it without him, but only because his site is so detailed and accurate.
- Kyle found a guide in Armenia, who put us in contact with Tamaz aka Tazer. Who, really, when it comes right down to it, made so much day-to-day shit either easier or just plain possible. He was a wealth of historical and cultural insight. Also, side note, this is the first time we’ve ever travelled with a guide; in the past that piece was always built-in in the form of a friend or friend of a friend. But Tamaz was 100% an unknown quantity. He was tough and he can ride. But we brought him a bike. This was his first time bikepacking. Maybe that’s irrelevant and/or maybe it at least adds a little dimension to an already dimension-full experience. You be the judge.
Regarding Georgia, one more thought. My whole life, I’ve been fascinated with intersections. And incongruences. Intersections should be obvious, that’s where things meet, duh. Have you ever sat on a corner and just watched shit? I mean, you have, right? Comings and goings, goings and comings. Language, fashion, culture, trade, spices, whatever, all of it, it’s all coming together at intersections. Now look at a map. Africa meets the Middle East meets Western Europe meets the Mediterranean meets Russia and Siberia and the Baltic meets Asia (India, China, Japan, Korea, et cetera et cetera) in Georgia. So, I mean, if I’ve got a thing for 14th and Everett in NW Portland, you can only imagine how I feel about Georgia. Incongruences is harder to explain. I think I like shit that’s confusing. And you know what, intersections ARE inherently confusing. And double you know what, Georgia is a confusing intersection. It’s in the middle of everything and has been since forever which means it’s seen its fair share of comers and goers. As such, and not surprisingly, many (maybe most) parts of it have been conquered several thousand times by everyone from everywhere, while other parts of it have never been conquered not once by nobody. And those parts, the parts that have never been conquered are, no surprise, in the middle of a frosty plate tectonic fortress called the Caucasus Mountains. Which is exactly where this story takes place. So yeah, Georgia, it’s amazing, let’s talk about it.