Cycle Georgia: The Road to Dikolo
So we set off at 10h00 for another restful day excursion. Within the first 5 mins we were headed down a mine shaft – eish, this does not bode well for the return trip…at the bottom was another, longer, steeper shaft up – so much for a rest day! But Steve was noticeably stronger and in better spirits.
Conditioning is setting in. We reached the little village of Shenako, set on a hill and Kati pointed to the steep road ahead, leading to our destination of Diklo. Just then we spied a BIG dog coming down the hill through the village towards us. Stories of vicious dogs in this part are rife, so we are always nervous in their presence, especially if there are sheep around…
“You go first”, said Kati in her usual gracious manner. I took off at speed, thinking of the old snake adage – first one startles it, second one angers it, third one gets whacked! I snaked through the village and flew down the steep hill leading to the road Kati had indicated. Just as I was losing precious momentum up the other side I stopped and looked back to check the other 2 were okay, but there was no-one in sight.
I put down the bike and waited and waited and waited and waited – no sign of anyone and I was naturally loath to go all the way back up. Eventually it seemed I had no choice but to backtrack and by now I was feeling very hard done by: “They make me go first to get bitten by the dog and then decide to explore the village. Bet they’re relaxing and having coffee while I’m slogging back up this hill, wada, wada, wada…” By the time I’d tried numerous small alleyways all in vain and eventually came upon them exploring an old church with an adjacent cafe, there was smoke coming out of my ears.
The cafe owner saw me first and alerted Steve and Kati and as they turned I exploded – poor Daro ran for the cover of the cafe and Kati ducked behind the church, leaving Steve to face the music. He insisted it was always the plan to explore the church (first I’d heard of it), they didn’t leave me on purpose, shit just happens, they’d been searching everywhere for me and if I didn’t stop being so pissy he was heading back to Omalo.
Hmmm, he was right of course, time to take my own advice, stop being so negative and see the funny side or risk spoiling a wonderful day. I quickly changed my mind, apologised for being pissy and headed down to the cafe where Daro had laid out a feast of homemade biscuits, assorted preserves & chopped walnuts, as well tea & coffee. She wasn’t taking any chances with this volatile woman, however and just to be safe, she hauled out her extensive stash of home-brewed “Cha Cha”(witblitz/mampoer)…She insisted we taste on the house. It certainly lifted the spirits and we ended up buying a bottle of Tushetian rose liqueur, which we decanted into a plastic bottle and, of course, I got to have the privilege of carrying it!
(The dog, Kati informed me, was the meekest creature in Georgia, lying in the sun at the church and barely opening one eye when they approached). Finally we dragged ourselves away from Daro’s hospitality and proceeded down my hill and up the very steep climb on the other side.
The mountain side was covered with spring flowers and cows and horses grazed contentedly in the sun – such an idyllic setting, especially with the snow-capped peaks in the distance. When we reached Diklo, we had the pleasure of riding a wonderful, flowing, natural single track, which finally led us to yet another set of ruins perched atop a hill.
How they managed to erect these buildings at such heights is a source of endless amazement! The ride back, as expected was not a picnic, but we did stop for our own little snack of stashed away cake and a sort of cheese-filled vetkoek, which we’d scavenged from the adjacent breakfast tables (cyclists are shameless when it comes to food).
This just got us as far as the little shop in lower Omalo, where we stopped for beer and chips to get us over the last bump to upper. We also stocked up with cookies & chocolate for tomorrow’s big climb back over Abano Pass.
It won’t be as long as coming the other way, probably only about 20km up, but it is a lot steeper and I can’t honestly say we rested our legs today, with 1450 m of climbing over just 30km! Better not drink too much wine tonight. Early start at 05h30…