March 27

Great night last night, plenty warm so didn’t really need the sleeping bag too much.  We get our stuff together, make some porridge and wave goodbye to our new friends and start to ride.  Well, after three hours we’d done 14k, which is a truly horrible amount of distance.  We were going uphill the entire time, but it was the headwind that was the real kicker.  It was just incredibly powerful, knocking Ryan off his bike once and literally forcing me to a halt as I was going downhill – I’ve never experienced anything like it on a bike, it was about 50km/h winds.

As I’m puffing away up this hill, I see two cyclists in the distance coming towards us and they turn out to be two french guys who’ve been riding recumbents for the past two and a half years around the world.  In every city they went to they tried to set up an art installation and they carried all the gear they needed to do it – which is an insane amount of kit.  We talked for an hour or so and then we all carried on, with them being taken by the wind down the valley and us crawling into it up the hill. 

We finally managed to get up the tunnel that took us to Khashuri and once we were at the tunnel I decided that the distance we were doing was not enough to keep us to our schedule – not a big deal unless you realise that if we miss our dates we won’t be able to continue as we won’t be able to enter the countries we’ve got visas for!  We cycled down through the tunnel and once we arrived in Khashuri we had an option.  A train in four hours, taking three hours, that we might be able to get on for 1 Lari, or a taxi for 50 Lari, taking an hour and a half.  It wasn’t a difficult decision, and 90 minutes later we’d arrived in Tbilisi.  One confusing moment was when we’d arrived in the outskirts of Tbilisi, and either the driver was not happy about driving in the city, or didn’t know his way around – he called a friend to come drive us into the centre while he sat in the boot with our bikes. 

Minutes after we’d pulled up near a park and were loading up our stuff, a cyclist (named Georgi of course) came up to his asking for a pump and we fell to talking.  We explained what we were doing and he recommended a hostel in the old town.  We pushed our bikes through the cobbled streets and up to the hostel – which was also the one a friend Sandro had recommended it turned out – and Ryan went in to check there were rooms.  I heard screams coming from inside and rushed in to see our friend Suzi, an American  we met in Thessalonike who’s been on the road for the past ten years or so, in the room we were going to be in!  We grabbed some cheap dinner and fell asleep early, exhausted by the day.

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