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Old 05-11-2015, 05:27 AM   #1
Tigris_GER OP
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Location: Severodonetsk / Ukraine
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Georgia (the other one) in six days


a ride report with only few words but more photos about a trip on old Soviet Dnepr motorbikes with sidecars in Georgia (the former Soviet republic) from last week. I lived and worked there from 2009 to 2013 and still have Georgian (motorbike) friends. I also imported one old Soviet KMS MV750 to Germany, when I left Georgia in 2013. Now my friends started business, offering guided tours on the old Soviet bikes and for me it was a matter of honour to join their first tour.

Enough explained, let's start with photos.

Day 1 - travel to and arrival in Georgia

We (my daughter and I) started our trip at the airport in Frankfurt with a stopover at Istanbul Sabiha (the smaller of the Istanbul airports) in Turkey.

Airport Istanbul Sabiha at night

We arrived at Tbilisi International Airport after a travel time of approximately 15 hours.

Tbilisi International Airport

Sandro, one of my Georgian friends and co-owner of Ride East (, picked us up from the airport with his 1985 Wolga.

Old Soviet Wolga

We take some hours of sleep in Georgian style Hotel Meridiani in the outskirts of Tbilisi, before Sandro picks us up again at lunchtime.

Hotel Meridiani in Tbilisi

In the evening we meet two German couples who decided to join the tour in a traditional Georgian restaurant in the old town of Tbilisi. With Sandro as Tamada (traditional drinkmaster responsible for the toasts) we enjoy the evening with typical Georgian food such as Khinkali, Khachapuri, Shkmeruli, Lavashi, Georgian salads, some Georgian beer and - of course - Cha Cha, a schnaps similar to the Italian Grappa.

To be continued soon.

Kind regards from Germany
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog

Tigris_GER screwed with this post 05-11-2015 at 05:37 AM
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:15 AM   #2
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Day 2 - from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda on Old Georgian Military Road

In the morning Sandro and his partner Dimitri deliver the bikes to our hotel next to the center of Tbilisi.

"My" Dnepr MT11

Sandro with his KMS K750

We refuel the bikes and make a short stop for buying some mineral water before leaving Tbilisi in direction west.

Buying some mineral water in the outskirts of Tbilisi

We follow the highway for approximately 20 km before turning north to the Old Georgian Military Road. It's the main road between Georgian capitol Tbilisi and Russian capitol Moscow.

Photo stop above Lake Ananuri

Lake Ananuri in the foothills of High Caucasus

Old Monastry Ananuri

On the road we meet a lot of cattle - sheeps, goats, cows, donkeys and horses. They block all traffic and it lasts some minutes to pass them.

Cattle on the road

In Pasanauri we stop at one of my favourite photo spots - a private junkyard with old vehicles.

Junkyard in Pasanauri

Old Soviet Moskwitsch

No idea what type of vehicles - but great

We follow the serpentine road to Gudauri, a famous Georgian ski ressort. Then and when Sandro has to fix some minor problems of the bikes (carburator adjustment etc.) But as a former race mechanic working in the US it's never a problem for him.

Repair with a hammer

Caucasus panorama

And again

In Gudauri we refuel the bikes and Sandro recognizes that his fuel tank is leaking. Whilst he is repairing it, I go with the others to visit an old Soviet monument just outside Gudauri.

Fuel in the tank folder of Sandro's K750

Inside the Soviet monument

View from inside the monument to High Caucasus

A part of the Soviet monument

From the monument we climb up the road to Cross Pass at an altitude of 2,395 m, the highest point of our tour.

Cross Pass - 2,395m

At 19.00h we arrive in Stepantsminda and close the evening with another Georgian meal in the kitchen of our hosts.

To be continued.
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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Old 05-11-2015, 05:33 PM   #3
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Old 05-11-2015, 05:39 PM   #4
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I'm in....
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #5
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This is a great looking hotel!

I'm in.

Originally Posted by Tigris_GER View Post

Hotel Meridiani in Tbilisi
Originally Posted by Ginger Beard View Post
Motorcycling has become something where a bunch of terrified cunts wont so much as ride to the corner store without wearing a Storm Trooper helmet and covering themselves in dayglow Nancy suits.
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:23 PM   #6
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Thanks so much for taking the time to post pictures and photos from the road.

I dream of traveling on a similar trip
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:41 PM   #7
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Day 3 - Stepantsminda to Ananuri

When we wake up in the morning it is raining cats and dogs. Some of us go for a horse to a monastry outside Stepantsminda. In the meantime our guide and mechanic Sandro maintains the old motorbikes.

The motorbikes in the rain

When entering the Cross Pass we find nasty fog and in the avalanche tunnels we have some uncomfortable meetings with Russian trucks.

Photo from my VIRB action cam

Although the rain stops after we left the Cross Pass, we decide to do a short trip only and find Lena's Hostel in Ananuri to stay overnight. Far away from any European standards but with an overwhelming hospitality - a good choice for the night.
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:24 AM   #8
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Day 4 - Ananuri to Lagodekhi

The next morning starts with heavy rain again - and a Georgian breakfast. Coffee, tea, Khachapuri, scrambled eggs, home made Sulguni, home made butter - a good start in the new day.

The breakfast table

Nothing missing

We decide to start the next part of the tour, ignoring the heavy rain. We go south on the Old Georgian Militry Road and turn east in Jhinvali, new direction is Akhmeta. The road is under construction, it has never seen any kind of pavement before. Luckily it is Sunday and there are no construction vehicles on the road.

After a while the rain stops and weather becomes better.

Photo and maintenance stop

The old Denprs work like tractors, it doesn't matter if there is mud or gravel, they just go throw. But they are oldtimers (and have been oldtimers already when they left the factory in Kiev) and from time to time they are shouting for maintennce. Adjusting carburators and ignition timing, replacing the generators, fixing wheels, broken spokes - that's what we faced on the trip - but Sandro always fixes the problems in shortest time.

Short trip uphill

On the other hand it is a great pleasure to ride the bikes with a maximum speed of 70 km/h and enjoy the environment. Especially the ladies in the sidecars like this kind of travel.

And downhill again

At lunchtime we have a break next to a small bridge over troubled water, eating the remains of the dinner last night and the breakfast.

Where are Simon & Garfunkel?


Old Soviet Wolga with cattle trailer

We follow the unpaved road and after a while it turns into a fresh paved one. In one of the bigger villages we have the next stop, using the local police station for a restroom break for our female travel mates.

Nice looking police station

During a maintenance stop we meet several typical Georgians and their vehicles:

Georgian family on a horse ride

Old Soviet GAZ 4x4

Sandro adjusting carburators of "my" bike

Next stop is in Akhmeta for coffee and tea. Hence we prefer to sit outside we take a table and seven chairs outside and enjoy the break. Of course, before leaving, we took everything back into the coffee shop.

The coffee shop just before we placed table and chairs outside

Between Akhmeta and Lagodkhi we come to road block. Police is blocking all traffic due to a World Run in the Kakheti Region. As there is no suitable alternative way for us we decide for another break and make a short visit at one of the famous vineyards in this region.

Kakheti Region is a famous production area for wine

As the road block lasts longer than expected, Sandro decides to change the generator of my bike, looks like it is not charging the battery properly.

Sandro changing the generator

In the meantime at the roadblock:

Typical Georgian vehicle

Cows moving home and shadows grow longer

Finally police opens the road block and we have to hurry now. We lost two hours and it is not a good idea to travel in Georgia in the darkness. Bad road conditions, no road lights and markings, stray dogs, wild life, free running cattle in the road, fast driving cars, traktors and coaches without light - Definitely something one should avoid.

Anyway, after two more break downs of my bike (carburator and generator problems) we arrive in Lagodekhi at around 23.00h, buy some food at a fuel station and have to go 4km more on unpaved and partly flooded roads to our accommodation - an old datcha only 5km away from the border Asserbeidschan.

We have a lot of fun riding this little road in absolute darkness and the highlight is a small creek we have to cross just in front of our datcha.

To be continued.
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:58 AM   #9
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Sounds like a fabulous trip which I'll be following. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:41 PM   #10
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Day 5 - Lagodekhi to Udabno

Day 5 starts with a general maintenance of my right carburator which caused problems during the last days. At the end Sandro replaces the carburator by a spare one. In the meantime I take some pictures of the datcha and the environment around.
Vasilii’s datcha
Vasilii’s datcha is the last one in a small village, all kind of animals are running around, looking for food. Cows, pigs, horses, hens – it really has an idyllic touch.
Pig on the road
Although the comfort in the datcha is limited, the general mood is very good. Before we start to visit Lagodekhi Nationalpark, we return to the creek crossing for some photos.
Thomas crossing the creek …
… and Sandro as well
On the way to the main entrance of Lagodekhi Nationalpark we meet a local Ural rider with his motorbike. He is as interested in our old Dnepr as we are interested in his Ural.
A local motorcyclist and his Ural
Lagodekhi Nationalpark is more than 100 years old; it is the home of a unique diversity of fauna and flora, located in an altitude from 300 up to 3,000 m. We skip the originally planned horse ride as it would last a minimum of half a day. The Nationalpark is worth to be visited for more than one day, but we don’t have the time.
Entrance to Lagodekhi Nationalpark
In the town of Lagodekhi we take an early lunch and meet several motorbikes with sidecars. Obviously they are used here as working and transport vehicles.
Slicks on the sidecar wheel
Old KMS K750 (2nd generation)
Before leaving Lagodekhi we have a look at the close border to Asserbeidschan.
Asserbeidschan – not far away
After lunch we turn southwest and cross Kakheti Region with its huge wine production area. The bikes are running smooth …. until we are close to Udabno, the village we will stay overnight. My Dnepr starts again to make problems from the right carburator. Hence Sandro knows it cannot be a carburator problem, he changes the ignition timing and suddenly the bike runs like hell …. for 500 m. Then it stops again. Engine is running smooth, gearbox is working, crankshaft is moving but the bike isn’t. Sandro identifies the problem in a second – the rear wheel is lose and doesn’t transmit the movement of the crankshaft to the wheel.
Watch the distance between wheel and crankshaft box
Whilst Sandro fixes the problem, we have time to watch the landscape around. Instead of high mountains we see green hills now.
From high mountains to green hills
Eileen decides to join Martin and Petra on their bike for the last kilometers.
Three persons on one Dnepr
Without anymore problems we arrive in Udabno, and once again we find the overwhelming hospitality of a Georgian family. Who cares, that we have to share one bathroom with the family. If I want to have a comfortable holiday according to European standards, I will go to Mallorca (what I never would do – never ever!)

And once again we end a day with a traditional Georgian dinner, beer and Cha Cha – and we find a new kind of Khachapuri on the dinner table.

To be continued
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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Old 05-14-2015, 06:30 AM   #11
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Day 6 - Udabno to Akhalkalaki

Once again the new day starts with a huge Georgian breakfast. It’s very windy but dry when we leave our hosts and ride to David Gareji, a more than impressing old cave monastry nest tot he border to Asserbeidschan.
Our guesthouse in Udabno
To David Gareji – turn left
David Gareji is located at a lonelyy place, surrounded by green hills and interesting brown rock formations.
Arriving at David Gareji
The cave monastry
Beautiful colours
From David Gareji we turn west, following the border to Asserbeidschan for several kilometers on an unpaved track. We have to cross a military training area and see some groups of soldiers exercising how to find and defuse landmines.
Which direction?
Blue sky – but very windy
After a while we return to paved roads, turn north and increase our speed, we have to ride a lot of kilometers today.

Again some oft he motorbikes cause unplanned stops. A spoke of the Martin’s rear wheel breaks and Sandro replaces the complete wheel. During the stop at a railroad crossing we can see that Georgians pass the crossing although the bars are down already.
Closed bars? Who cares?
Georgian railroad
Let’s change the rear wheel
We enter Tbilisi and turn southwest. After riding some kilometers in direction tot he Armenian border and a coffee stop, we turn west again and find a very scenic route, going up and down, left and right, just through a beautiful scenery.
Tea and coffee break
Suddenly Martin has a flat rear tyre. Again the rear wheel is changed.
Let’s change the rear wheel again
We enter a high plateau, more than 2,000m over a distance of approximately 70 kilometers. Although the sun is shining, the wind is horrible cold, when Sandro’s bike stops with piston squeezing. Fortunately he can continue his ride after some minutes of waiting.

We pass Lake Parwani and enter Ninotsminda, where we turn north to our final destination today, Akhalkalaki.
Clouds above Lake Parwani
We stay in a small hotel overnight and have dinner in a Russian restaurant. Akhakalaki is an Armenian exclave and we only hear Armenian and Russian language.

In total we made more than 260 km – not bad fort he old soviet motorbikes.

To be continued
Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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Old 05-15-2015, 02:18 AM   #12
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We start the last day of our Georgia tour only with tea and coffee, before we leave Akhalkalaki in direction north. We want to visit the famous cave town of Wardsia before returning to Tbilisi.

We follow a typical Georgian road with a lot of potholes parallel to the small Parwani River through a narrow canyon. An old railway is used as bridge over the river.
New meaning of the word “railway bridge”
After 25 kilometers we leave the road and turn southwest, in direction to the border to Turkey. The landscape is more than beautiful and the road is leading up and down, left and right. It’s a pleasure to cruise the road with the old Soviet bikes.
Sightseeing and maintenance break
Scenic view
Another 20 kilometers later we arrive in Wardsia. The caves in the rocks of the canyon are really awesome. Martin, Petra, Thomas and Elke climb up the wall to visit them.
Ancient cave town Wardsia
Detail view Wardsia
In the meantime Sandro maintains the motorbikes whilst Eileen and I take some photos.
Old Soviet motorbikes at even older Georgian caves
We leave Wardsia after two hours. Now we have to return to Tbilisi via Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda and Tsalka, but not before having lunch with fresh trouts just below an awesome ancient fortress.
Ancient fortress along the road to Akhalkalaki
On the high plateau, we already passed yesterday, the weather turns bad. Heavy rain and hail in an altitude of more than 2,000 meters. Martin and Petra provide Eileen and me with their rain jackets, otherwise it would have become much worse.
After one hour, when leaving the high plateau, the bad weather turns into sunshine again. Anyway, I caught a bad cold but fortunately it appears after our return to Germany.
Late afternoon we arrive in Tbilisi and stop for the last photos, including a group photo.
View on Tbilisi-Saburtalo
From left to right: Martin, Petra, Eileen, Franklin, Thomas, Elke, Sandro
We deliver the motorbikes at Tbilisi Motorcycle Works, Sandro’s workshop, and return to the hotel by taxi.

The last six days we rode 1,111 kilometers in the north, east and south of Georgia on old Soviet bikes. Although we had some technical problems, as we expected, there was no markable break in our tour. Sandro demonstrated his skils and professionalism as mechanic as well as tour guide.

For me one thing is clear: I will return to Georgia for another tour with Ride East ( Maybe we will go to western Georgia – there are so many places in Georgia worth to be visited – one tour definitely is not enough.

Franklin`s Sidecar and Photo Blog
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