Georgia isn’t a very big country and when we arrived in the country on May 20 we only planned to stay for about two weeks before continuing to Azerbaijan. Then two things happened that would slow us down. First Wej fell and hurt her knee and then we discovered we had made a mistake when providing information to the travel agency that would make the letter of invitation to Uzbekistan. All this made us have to wait and all the waiting have been frustrating.
We have been in good company though and met plenty of other cyclists from many countries. I knew of 12 other cyclist being in town at about the same time. It felt like Tbilisi was the gathering point for the cycle caravan going to traverse the silk road.
Wej and I were in no rush since there was a delay with the letter of invitation to Uzbekistan and we postponed our departure from Tbilisi one day at the time since her knee wouldn’t stop aching. When we finally left Tbilisi last Tuesday (11 June) our aim was to make a soft start and only ride for a few hours. It was raining the day before we left and when we finally got into our saddles the sky seemed to promise rain sooner rather than later.
At the outskirts of Tbilisi we caught up with another cyclist. It was a man in his late 50:s who had lots of plastic bags hanging from his bike. We exchanged a few words as we rode past him, but when we later stopped he caught up with us and came over to talk to us. He didn’t know any english but spoke german, italian, russian and spanish. He tolds us he was on his way to Sighnagi which happened to be our target too.
The road out of Tbilisi was slowly taking us uphill and we cycled very slowly and stopped often so Wej could do stretching and massage her knee. It all went quite well but after about one hour her knee started to ache again. This made us seriously concerned and we decided to take a break to rest somewhere. At about the same time the colour of the sky changed from grey to black and we knew heavy rain was on its way and turned into a gas station to rest and wait for the rain.
After spending about one hour at the gas station we decided to continue and try to find somewhere to camp, but only 5-600 meters after the gas station we found a little hotel. Our plan was to camp but the aching knee had put us in low spirits and we decided to stay there. The owner thought his hotel was a nice one and bragged about the night club, but we were not so convinced that it was a good hotel since the bathroom stank and had almost no water pressure.
We could clearly hear the loud music from the night club during the late hours, but when we walked past we could see there were no guests there….
The next morning Wej complained that the pain in her knee hadn’t gone away and this worried both of us seriously. She did stretching, massaged the knee and did what she could to relieve the pain. We spent several hours in the morning discussing what to do and we ended up in a common decision to return to Tbilisi and have a doctor look at the knee.
This decision was not easy to make and I think we both were anxious about the consequences this would have for the rest of our journey. It was already noon when we finally got the bikes loaded and when we were about to cross the road and roll back to Tbilisi Wej said that we could try to bike a couple of kilometers first before we turned around. There was a long but not so steep uphill immediately after the hotel and when we had climbed it Wej said that she didn’t feel anything in her knee and we decided to continue a little more.
It appeared that the pain was gone and that she only from time to time could feel a little sting in the knee. We rode extra slowly and often stopped to rest and this strategy seemed to work. Wej’s knee was back in business again 🙂
In the late afternoon Johannes – a german cyclist we had met in Tbilisi – caught up with us. We rode the rest of the day together and all of a sudden we once again caught up with the vagabond collecting empty bottels along the road. The vagabond told us there were cherry trees a couple of hundred meters ahead and we all stopped there to eat cherries picked straight from the tree.
We decided to stop early and pitched our tent beside Johannes in an orchard with unknown fruit trees.
The following morning my rear wheel was flat. I think I had parked on something sharp. Normally this shouldn’t cause the tyre to get flat, but maybe my tyres were in worse condition than I thought when we set out on this tour. It makes me a bit concerned since it is hard to find high quality tyres in these countries.