“I was never a cyclist. Merely a person with a bicycle.”
I have recently had a few questions about my gear, and though I really don’t know anything about bikes, I figured I would share what I know for those who are interested. First off though, I want to start out by saying this – you don’t need a fancy bike or the best gear money can buy to tour, you simply need a bike which fits (so much more important than quality) and the right attitude. I have met tourers on fixies, broken down mountain bikes, and road racing bikes alike, and though of course it’s easier to invest in a good bike and panniers when possible, it’s equally great to tour with your backpack strapped to the back of your old commuter.
“When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”
Though I have mentioned it many times already, wine in Georgia is an essential part of the Georgian culture and therefore deserves it’s own post. First, let’s start with the history. Wine making tools from over 4,000 years ago have been excavated here which means that Georgia does indeed have the earliest (found) records of wine making; though legend has it that wine making actually started much earlier than that, as early as 8,000 years ago. In any case, it’s definitely been part of their culture for a very long time.
“You live your life and tell me it can’t be done, I’ll live mine and show you it can.” – Kevin Dugan
We wake up at sunrise to the chirping birds and the rushing river.
We pack up camp to become nomads once again.
We cycle through the desert, sweat pouring down, pushing our limits day in and day out.
We laugh, we cry, and we celebrate this thing we call life.
They don’t get why we do it.
We don’t get why they don’t.
We wake up in our makeshift homes, or sometimes, simply in the open air.
We collect our drying clothes from the trees surrounding us.
We cycle through the snow – cold, wet, but exhilarated – forging father into the unknown.
We are receptive to the world around us, unafraid of what lies beyond every bend.
“The art of being happy lies in the art of extracting happiness from common things.”
I am an absolute animal lover. Kevin can’t even watch an animal based documentary with me anymore because I get so excited and can’t stop repeating “he is so cute!” the whole time, which, as he has so kindly put it, “ruins the show.” In any case, nearly every dog I have ever encountered easily wins over my immediate unconditional love. That is, until I was constantly chased by the ferocious looking sheep herding dogs here in Georgia.
“Sometimes I think a soulmate is the person who can make you the most “you” that you could possibly be.”
Though I have already written about “Travel Alone VS Travel As Two,” a recent email conversation with a fellow bike tourer sparked me to go a little more in depth about this subject. My friend, a fellow bike tourer who decided to continue his journey with a special girl after cycling around the world for over three years alone, wrote this about his experiences which I thought I would share because I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
People often ask me if I plan to travel forever. If I want to completely forgo the nine-to-five job, the house and accompanying mortgage, and the sedentary sort of lifestyle that most people live. Though I do plan to travel somewhat permanently throughout the next decade or so, and will continue to travel and adventure throughout my whole life, I do indeed someday want a house (or yurt!) to call home and a community to call my own. Though Kevin and I both love this lifestyle and will miss it someday I’m sure, we both know that raising children, holding jobs, and making a home are in our distant somewhat sedentary future as well. But that doesn’t mean our journey will be over, it just means that, when the time is right, a new one will begin.
“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.”
The way up and then down from Omalo was nowhere near as bad as we had feared, though mountain biking down the steep slopes that made up the road made us really wonder how we had ever gotten up in the first place. We ended up setting up our tent at the same lovely picnic spot we had visited the week before when we had been invited to eat with a family picnicking nearby. This time we decided to make our own fire and cook some potatoes, veggies, and cheap hotdogs for dinner though our idea was short lived since halfway through we were invited to join the roaring party at the picnic table of rowdy drunk church-goers.
“Well, meet your obligations. But obligations never prevented anyone from following their dreams.”
Omalo, which is in the mountainous region of Tusheti near the Russian boarder, is an isolated village which acts as the center point for the region. Made up of only a few dozen houses, the town has recently become a tourist attraction and is now composed of guest houses though the locals leave by October (only to return in June) due to the snow.
“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.”
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.
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”
We woke up at five-thirty as the sun began to rise in order to eat breakfast, fresh homemade Georgian bread and homemade cheese, with the family we had been staying with for the past few nights. We then quickly packed and said our thank you’s and goodbyes in order to hit the road by six-thirty while it was still reasonably cool out. We cycled for a few hours, pausing here and there to take breaks in the shade, until about eleven-thirty when we found a river to cool off in for the afternoon. By that time we had completed sixty of our eighty kilometers for the day.