Oh Georgia

We wander about trying to find our way to a restaurant in the cold and rain.  Decisions about which one is best quickly change to just find one that’s open and we end up at another random table with another random menu but with no english this time.  A bloke is across the other side sitting with a woman, not eating, looking like he owns the place.  He wanders over and you just know from his face that whatever profession he is in involves a lot of bullshit.   And so it proves to be.  He’s friendly and helpful don’t get me wrong but all the stuff in between is for his own entertainment and kudos.  He is a mate of the owner and we play to his ego and sit him down to ask him some questions.

We’re planning to try and get into Azerbaijan but from what we read the border is closed to tourists.  We’re also looking for status updates on the 3 potential Turkey/Georgia borders we can choose from tomorrow.  As luck would have it at that moment another mate of the family comes in and joins us.  He’s something to do with the Turkish border force.. and he knows some mates that are truck drivers going into Azerbaijan.  He tells us the closest Georgian border opened 2 days ago, so thats good, and after calling his mate he says the Azerbaijan border is open too .. but I’m not convinced.  I know its open for commercial traffic but tourist traffic is another matter.  Billy Bullshit is convinced its open to us and it will all be fine and he’ll personally assure our entry.  He tells us the border point to use and the procedure.. puffs out his chest like he’s just saved all of our lives and gives one of those smiles that make you want to punch him in the face…

I ask him about his wife .. or who I assume is his wife who is sat next to him.  This bloke is maybe early 60s, overweight and with a set of 2nd hand random teeth bought cheap from a tooth fairy.  Yet he virtually spits his drink out .. ‘Her!  This woman?’ and he points at her.  ‘I don’t go for fat old women like this.. ‘… yep…. a c*nt is a c*nt in any country ..

Next morning and its still a bit miserable.  Go out to the bike before breakfast and find another stray dog looking for affection.   We saw a lot of these last night and they all have tags in their ears .. or what used to be their ears.  I’ve seen this before out here.. the dogs have their ears cropped.  I’ve heard stories of it being to do with fights with bears .. or for health reasons .. or mainly just tradition.. but I’m not a fan and I doubt the dogs are either.  Anyway I get 100% more breakfast than I need and feed it to the dog.. who then refuses to leave my side.. I thought it was going to get on the back as I left

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The GPS maps have got all their one way roads back to front and we’ve already ridden 20 miles by the time we climb out of the town towards the border.. someone has been up all night painting these fields green .. and they’ve done an excellent job

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The road to the border is a long spur so if its not open we’re going to be mightily pissed. Its a lovely ride .. which is good.. but there is hardly any traffic.. which could be bad


The beasts all need feeding and so we pull into a petrol station in a tiny village and watch the cows come home.

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This petrol station is one of the strangest ones I’ve been to for a while.  It sells everything from tractor tyres to washing machines to hoovers to kids bikes .. and I think its the first petrol station in my life to offer us all a hot cup of chai as we decide if I can fit a tractor tire on the back of the Ktm

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The road from here is like an escalator taking us high into the clouds round the rims of vast valleys then down roller coaster twisties covered in gravel and dirt.  Its a high concentration high risk high reward ride that fully exercises my smile muscles at one end and my sphincter muscles at the other.

As we get close to the border we meet all the trucks.  Lots and lots and lots of trucks.. all parked up waiting.  Not usually a good sign.  Get to the front and the border is shut .. I originally wrote shit there .. yep .. that too.  It looks like they tried to open the border a bit early.  Maybe a year early .. It’s all still under construction and a couple of hours ago a big transformer transformed itself into a firework and went boom.   Farty tit wank..

So there are people stuck both sides, some in nomansland, and all systems are down.  It’s pointless asking anyone when it might be back, they’re obviously working on it, all you can do it break out the patience suppositories and sit .. carefully .. down to wait.

There is a makeshift cafe in the bushes and we decamp to decide a plan.  It’s about 120 miles back where we came from then down to the next border, and another load of extra miles in Georgia to get back up to where we’re staying.  But you need a plan or a target.. a decision point.  OK, it’s about 10:30, if it’s not open by 12 we’re gone.


Maybe 40 minutes later there are stirrings and mumblings and people are returning to their vehicles.  Looks like the leccy is back on but as is usual with these things its a case of hurry up and wait.  Computers have to raise themselves from their slumbers and shake hands with all their mates before we can do anything, and these computers either sleep really deeply or they have a shit loads of mates.  Eventually they’re fully awake and we’re shuffling slowly through the dust to the little window where our future lies.  Then through the melay we go down to customs.  There are queues from all directions but we turn down the britishness and fight our way through to the front and get the clearance we need to leave.  Well.. all the others do.. but I don’t.  ‘Problem.. you have a fine’.  What?  I’ve paid the HGS and we’ve had no beef with the police.. but then I remember the last time I was here.  I got a speeding fine that we tried to pay at the time but couldn’t work out how so left without doing it.  Perhaps its that ..

But he prints out a piece of paper with the fine on, and its a strange amount.. a cursory amount hardly worth getting out of bed for .. I calculate it in my head .. then I do it again.. and again to check.  It’s about £1.20?  WTF is that all about!


Anyway, this is usually when the panic sets it.  All the bloke does is point his finger back to where I’ve just come from. ‘Go pay’.  Where?  Who? What?  Bollocks .. the others get on with getting into Georgia and I walk back up to the border post and try to find what I’m supposed to do with this.  Eventually someone points me at a small window in a hut.  A closed window, in a closed, unoccupied  hut.   Fantastic.. just perfect.. it’s Kebab o’clock so I assume the occupant is somewhere necking some fatty meat.  I wait.. and wait .. then I wait some more.  I can see the others have all left and gone into Georgia but I’m stuck.

I hear noises.. shuffling .. the window opens.. there is a human on the other side with his hand out .. at last.. I hand him my paperwork.. his hand hits the keyboard .. and … and nothing .. the power has tripped out again. Oh how I laughed ..IMG_9177


By the time I pay and get back to customs I assume the riders are already at the hotel, having saunas and massages.  Lounging on soft feather beds and eating delicious dumplings but I’m wrong.  They’ve all waited for me up at the petrol station where they sell insurance.  They’re fed and watered and ready to ride so I get my insurance and we’re off.


We’re just entering the first post-apocalyptic village, its down on its arse and it doesn’t look as if it can fall any lower.  Dark and foreboding with houses hiding their shame behind thick bushes and trees.  I’m following a rider and I see a dog enter the scene from the right. Quite a big dog.  A dog with a death wish.  A wish it wants to exercise right now.  It proceeds to run straight in front of the rider and like 2 straight lines destined to cross he hits it hard.  Luckily the dog doesn’t go under the wheel but bounces off to the side as the riders wobbles and gets the bike back under control.   I hate watching these events unfold.. but this time the bread falls butter side up.

Its a relatively short ride to Borjomi that nestles in the cleavage between two mountains before we twist and climb up to the ski resort of Bakuriani.  Most ski resorts aren’t so attractive without a blanket of snow to hide all their warts and scars, and this place is no exception.  The whole place is pretty sad and the hotel has more stray dogs than guests.

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We’re only staying here because we want to ride the Tskhratskaro pass.  We’ve been asking people about the pass for a while.  What state its in and how dangerous it is.  We’ve had a lot of people say its pretty bad but a few people have told us its passable in a 4×4 and that we should be ok.  Just that we need to take our passports.  Only one way to find out anyway.  We’ll try it in the morning.

Well .. some of us will …

It seems that Brians meal at the petrol station was 90% poison.  You’ve heard of Novichok.. well this was Bowelunblock.  A much much more potent substance that instantly opens all exits and launches bodily fluids at full flow.  No orifice can resist the power of Bowelunblock.. no fart flap can stand in its way ..

Poor fella. I wake in the night and all I can see in the pitch blackness is a glowing red arsehole making its way from the bed to the bog to the bed to the bog all night long.  When I wake up I think I’ve died and gone to the great sewer in the sky .. the air is thick with fumes and the toilet is breathing hard from a full night of swallowing .. I go down to reception and put an emergency call in for more toilet rolls then I walk into the laundry and shout “INCOMMING”.

Brian isn’t going anywhere .. he’s going to be bum to bowl all day .. so we need a plan B.  We have a couple of spare days and I’ve deliberately not booked any hotels for today in case we had problems at the Armenia border so I just rebook for tonight and we decide to do the pass and loop back here and hope Brian is ok.  Plan C is stand Brian on his head, stick a funnel in his bum and pour concrete in.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

The four of us head up towards the pass expecting the worst.  Well.. I can definitely think of worse places I could be ..

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Get to the top and there is a police station, and a shepherd and fuck all else for miles around.

IMG_9343-1 IMG_9291 IMG_9283The pass is pretty straightforward and whoever added an entry for it on the worlds most dangerous roads must get scared even pulling back the covers of their bed.   If you’re here, do it.  It’s a lovely lovely ride.
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Having said that, I only stop to photograph the nice easy bits.  The rest of the time I’m just holding on, avoiding the biggest rocks and holes, and generally just desperately trying to not break either myself or the bike.   I always mentally kiss the the tarmac the second my wheels hit it. I find off road riding a perverse love/hate experience.  I hate it when I’m doing it and I love it when I finish.

Its well past tummy rumble o’clock when we get to the other end so we head into the town to play the lunch lottery.  Finding one is easy .. I point to my stomach and someone replies by pointing to a hole in a wall.  This hole in the wall is serving HUGE donna kebabs which you can buy in 3″, 6″ or 12″ sizes.  There is absolutely no way I’m ordering a 12″ anything ever from anyone, so I go for a 6.

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There is a lady working a production line of them and throwing in generous quantities of evil looking items that will be sure to test the seal on my back door.  I’m hoping to avoid becoming a SpaceX Arse rocket like Brian.   Its really tasty to be fair but the clientele here aren’t looking too friendly so we bolt our food down and leave quick sticks.

I recognise the street from a previous visit.  Its one that fades from half decent at one end to absolute shit and destruction at the other as it heads for the Armenia border.  We’ll be back this way tomorrow but today we’ll take the scenic route looping back to our hotel and hopefully a fully watertight Brian.

I’m glad to see the pothole men have been hard at work too.  They take their job really seriously round here

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The ride back is a peach.  It runs like a droplet of water down a woman’s body,  up and down, round and round, smooth and curvaceous all the way from the head to the foot of the mountains.

IMG_9371 IMG_9372 IMG_9374 IMG_9376 IMG_9381-1Quick stop back at Cleavage for a few pictures

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Before the curvy climb back to the resort.  This is Georgia, the satnav constantly looks like an etch-a-sketch in the hands of a 2 year old.

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Maybe I should move here.  I’m thinking of making an offer on this place.

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My offer is to bring some petrol and some matches ..

There are a few nice places around, but they are few and far between.


We head out for dinner and end up walking so far that we wear away most of our legs and have to stumble in on our stumps.  The place is empty but open, and it seems to be the only option in a 200 mile radius.   While we’re waiting the bloke offers us some Georgian Whisky from an unmarked bottle in a fridge.  He gives us about a 4 shot glass and it has to down in one.


JE)(*£$%£$%$S Ch*@£R@T AL(@£@£@Y … What the fuck just happened.  It tastes mike avgas.   I reckon he’s syphoned it out a jet fighter.. I was wondering what that SU27 was doing parked on the forecourt.    What possesses you to throw a load of completely unknown fluid from an unknown person down your neck?  For fully 5 minutes  feel no effect whatsoever.  All good.. I’m 100% ok.. I can talk and move my head with no problem.  I have a bite of something to eat and BANG .. whatever I’ve eaten must be the fuse that sets of the biggest instant headfuck I’ve ever had.  Its like someone has pulled out my vertical hold.. I’m all over the place and have some sort of delay between moving my head and hands, and the signal actually reaching my brain.  What with this and the kaboom kebab I had earlier I’m fully expecting my insides to spit the bummy tonight.

Anyway.. in better news .. we walk back to the hotel in the dark and young Brian seems to have risen from the dead.  He’s wearing a pair of concrete underpants but he says he’s ready to ride



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