“Your legs are not giving out. You head is giving up. Keep going.”
Georgia is one of those countries which every world touring cyclist talks about because inevitably it ends up on someone’s “top countries to cycle though” list. And now I know why. Georgia is absolutely wonderful due to its beautiful mountains, quaint villages, and it’s extremely hospitable people. Though I have experienced kindness throughout every country during this bike journey, Georgia was something different. Here, it wasn’t just a few individuals who stepped out of their way to help you out, but rather it seemed that every single Georgian wanted nothing more than to make you feel welcome and at home in their gorgeous country.
“And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.”
After two nights in a really nice guest house (we needed wifi to give our parents their well deserved “I’m alive and happy” emails as well as update the blog) we set out on what we assumed was a paved rather easy road across the country. It was an extremely quiet country road with less than one car an hour and we quickly figured out why. It was horrendously bumpy and rocky (and of course uphill as always) and we were desperately trying to pedal through the 40+C afternoon since we were just about out of water. It was a miserable afternoon made worse by the heat and the prospect of seventeen kilometers of hell to go.
“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.
“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.
“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
45C is about 35C higher than I typically enjoy. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a mountain girl through and through and if there isn’t snow on the ground, chances are it’s too hot by my standards. Cycling through the countryside in the Georgian valley has proven to be extremely difficult due to the heat, though in all honesty, it hasn’t diminished my already growing love for this country. If this isn’t proof that cycling (and really life in general) is just a mental game based on your attitude, I don’t know what is. Despite the heat, there isn’t anywhere else in the world I would rather be as Georgia has already proven to be full of wonderful countryside and hospitable people.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
If you are anything like me you can probably hardly even place Georgia on a map (to the east of Turkey, south of Russia, north of Armenia) unless you have already been there, so a little history lesson is in store before we enter into this beautiful country. As a small country of five million inhabitants Georgia is a predominately Eastern Orthodox Christian country which is filled with vineyards, beautiful old churches (due to the fact that they adopted Christianity very early on, in the fourth century), small farming villages, and mountains. The Caucasus, which run down from Russia, host a range of peaks over 5,000m and an array of different national parks and beautiful landscapes to go along with it.