Day 16: Oh Gosh, Oh Golly; Here We Go Again
A recurring theme of this trip has been Gamarjoba 2 & Nagwamdis 2 (Hello again & Goodbye again). The very nature of the terrain, which has long valleys ending in BIG mountain ranges, means that some out & back is inevitable, but in our case, circumstances also played a part. In this case the plan was to continue another 70km to Lentekhi and then a further 92 km to Kutaisi, where we would end our cycle and make our way back to Tibilisi. The next 162 km promised to be much more remote though, with a LOT less passing cars.
. Steve was not feeling confident with skadonk, especially as we had no more tubes and no prospects of buying any. We decided instead to head back to Mestia, collect his bike and return to Tbilisi from there. As luck would have it, Carina had not yet sent his bike on to Kutaisi and in fact, she needed to get a rental bike to Ushguli, so it worked perfectly. We left skadonk behind, I saddled up & rode back and Steve jumped into a local taxi.
The first hour was perfection- early morning cool, no cars, no dust, just cows and butterflies and a wonderful, roller-coaster road. I was hopeful, being Sunday, that the road works would also be sleeping.
Just then, as I was blissfully day dreaming & minding my own business, in a flash, out of the blue, a giant bear of a dog came rushing at me with snapping jaws. He certainly gave no cause to pause! There was no chance to grab the taser or a water bottle.
I felt the adrenaline explode inside my head, geared down for more power and sprinted for all I was worth, the barking beast in hot pursuit, his teeth getting dangerously closer to my ankles. My heart was racing madly! Just as I was thinking I couldn’t keep this up for much longer, he backed off and sauntered away – I was merely a bit of sport to ease the boredom of the day.
For the next few minutes I was a wreck, as the adrenaline slowly dissipated. The incident put me in mind of my trundles by bike through the Transkei – Eish izinja ziyakonkorta kakhulu, kodwa azilumi (these dogs bark a lot, but they don’t bite) Thank God!! I was thoroughly shaken though. NOT an experience I want to repeat EVER!
And then the cars started to pass me and throw up clouds of fine talcum-powder dust, which coated my face like a mask. And then the road works – seems Sunday is like any other day here. The water truck from yesterday had done a great job though and ironically, this section of the route was the least dusty. The truck drivers and road side workers greeted me with recognition and the Danish hikers from our wild night out, passed by in their taxi and waved and shouted enthusiastically – hello again, goodbye again…
I reached Mestia well before Steve and settled in to our “local” for an iced coffee. I got lots of sideways glances and was aware that I must look pretty grubby, but when I went to the restroom, I was shocked and amused by the muddy mask that stared back at me. I doused my face and returned to my seat to await Steve, feeling marginally more respectable.
We decided to blow the budget and checked into a “proper” hotel with soap and a shower curtain and even a hair dryer. Getting soft…