We woke to a sunny day. The idea today is to ride into Ushguli and then tomorrow continue on the dirt road past there in a loop and we plan to get to the capital Tbilisi the day after.
We were a bit concerned about the amount of rain and the condition of the “road” after Ushguli. The ride up to Mestia is paved and the scenery spectacular.
About 45 minutes out we stopped by the side of the road for some fresh bread and honey and this is 115 km from Ushguli.
Along the way we ran into Guðmundur, who we actually know from ADV! He is from Iceland and is on a similar course to us this year, except he will go thru Russia and not Iran.
We stopped for lunch in Mestia, which is 45 km from Ushguli.
The road is paved for another 10 km, then there is about 2 km of road construction with deep gravel and churned up dirt road with ruts and large clods of mud. Past this the road is good dirt with a few wet spots and some mud for about 8 -10 km to Zeghani.
Sara hears a loud bang on the last hairpin before the village and her rear shock was blown and spewing oil.
Here the route gets very muddy and slick. We did go a bit farther, but when the road got really bad Dan and Sara decided to turn back, make for Zugdidi, and see what they could organize to solve this problem.
The ride up from there was the same in reverse, except the back hoe had made the 300 m of the even worse with deep churned up dirt. Hitting the pavement we pushed on 2 1/2 hours to our previous quest house, where they luckily had a room.
Trevor and Orvar pushed on the last 20 km,. the last 10 were very difficult and the last 2 km took an hour. It poured all night, there “guest house” has no heat, no glass in the windows, and by morning no power. They said it was basically an abandoned building. The issue for them now is getting back out. They were able to arrange a transport for their luggage the 45 km to Mestia and this made the very challenging mud road much easier.
Meanwhile we have been trying to find out our options. Wolfgang was at BMW at 730 am, but they do not have an OEM shock in stock, nor do they in Munich, BMW parts centre will not ship the part except to a dealership, and that will not arrive on time. Wolfgang in Hamburg managed to source a shock from YSS (half the price of BMW) and they say they can ship today for arrival Tbilisi 5 days time. We also found HU HUBB a mechanic who will help us out. This leaves us 1 day to get to Yerevan (if we get a visa), but pretty much screws up our tour in the east go Georgia and any of Armenia.
This whole ordeal was made possible by Wolfgang with the help of Thomas at TWOWHEEL suspension shop. That sounds easy, but involved Wolle making many phone calls, driving all over Hamburg, and a lot of frustration. Fed Ex and DHL wanted 350 Euros to ship, but he finally found on line and confirmed with UPS that they would ship for 90 Euros. Problem 1 the first shock Thomas was sent was covered in oil and he checked it and it was faulty…. Get a second shock, tested, good, go back to UPS.
Quote from UPS was for 5 kg…get to UPS is 5.3 kg and now 180 Euros….Very nice lady at UPS says “hmm its 5 kg” and 90 Euros. Wolfgang arranged all the paperwork for the “dangerous” goods transfer and shipping. We all celebrate!!!
Problem 2 9 pm we all get an email package is blocked as dangerous and they will not ship. Problem 3 UPS calls to say they have now lost the package. Poor Wolfgang up at the crack of dawn again to get a third shock, get Thomas to test it, and then spend all day finding a company that will ship it. Problem 4 TNT says they will ship this third shock as dangerous goods, but they close at 6 pm. At 555 pm while Wolfgang is at TNT he finally gets a call from UPS….the first shock was sent, the night guys decided it was ok to send on, but did not document this or change the halt order on the tracking, nor did they inform the other UPS people. So All Wolfgang and Thomas’s work today was in the end for nothing! Luckily they had not shipped the third shock yet! Thanks so much mail box etc!!!
While all this is going on we are moving from Zugdidi to Gori staying on the main road to make it easier on my pogo stick. We stopped on the way at a gas station to get an update on wifi, and then arrived to the guest house to find they had no internet due to construction on the system.
We walked into town 1.2 km and toured the Stalin museum as Gori is his birthplace. It was a bit weird and they call him a hero and gloss over the bad stuff.
We finally found a restaurant with wifi and camped out there for several hours getting updates from Wolle, booked a place in Tbilisi for the next 3 days, planed our route for the next days and confirmed the oil changes. Finally at 8 pm our time we heard the good news that the shock will arrive to Tbilisi on June 6-7 th.
This is when we must be in Yerevan Armenia to apply for the Iran visas. Lucky for us Orvar has his already and he also does not need an Armenian visa (ours are single entry) and can stay behind on June 6 when we leave or maybe he will ride back to Tbilisi to pick it up for us. Or more likely we will not yet have actuation numbers and we will all stay until the shock arrives.