The Toughest Road

“Later, we simply let life proceed, on its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them- the path to their destinies, and to happiness.”

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Coming into Georgia from the highest passes in the world (the Indian Himalayas) sounded like a piece of cake. I figured that since we had just completed some of the “most extreme” cycling out there, any “mountains” here in Georgia would be easily conquered. Of course, this was all before I spent two days pushing (not cycling, pushing) my bike up the steepest rough road I have yet to encounter.

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The first day started out rather gradually though extremely rough and after a mere twenty kilometers we called it a day and spent the evening and night by the river. Though there were no villages along this stretch we did encounter a few sheep herders and a bee farm! These herders bring their sheep up into the mountains during the summer (the road is only open from June to October) and then walk them down by September once the snow begins.

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People always ask where we get water… Well here you go!

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The next day proved to be even worst, though thankfully after seventeen painful kilometers (and 1,500m of elevation gain) of pushing we finally arrived at the top. Overall we gained nearly 3,000m of elevation in just under forty kilometers in order to reach our first pass here in Georgia.

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We made it!

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Like the prayer flags which greeted us atop every pass in Ladakh, here the Christian cross seems to crop up just about everywhere. Though it may be a different religion, the same cultural belief systems (they believe it blindly because they were born into it) seems to apply here as well. Though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I have realized that in every corner of our globe we are a product of our society and therefore follow the cultural beliefs surrounding us.

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Once we got up and over it looked a lot like Oregon – my home – with a river running through the valley which was completely covered by rolling hills and trees.

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Though the downhill was suppose to be fun (right?!) it was so steep in the first section, and then turned into another uphill (500m gain) at the end which was “disappointing” so tired and dejected we set up camp just before reaching our final destination.

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From our camping spot we could see the first few villages in the area, small clusters of a half dozen to a dozen homes clumped together in the hillside. This road, which Stalin had tried to build (but failed) was only completed in 1978, and has opened the area up tremendously. Just imagine how isolated these villages use to be!

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