Yaba Daba Doo! Caucasus planning starts here!

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by v1nn1e, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    Just had an email back from my manager agreeing to a 4 week vacation next year, probably around May!

    I'm planning to ride from the UK, down through south-east Europe into Turkey, across the Black Sea coast into Georgia, then up over the Caucasus Mountains and into Russia, then eventually back through Belarus and eastern Europe.

    First ever long distance trip so I'm starting from scratch. I've got The Adventure Motorcycle Handbook and a 4 page Word document of headings; some even have something written under them! :)

    It's going to be hard to contain the excitement over the next 6 months! :D
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  2. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    What will you be riding? And are you taking a tent?
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  3. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    I have a BMW F800ST. I'm expecting most of the road to be tarmac and will accept I won't be able to explore as far and wide in the Caucasus as possible - I will investigate that for another time. Now, the BM is in pretty good condition (4 years old) so I'm also considering something a little tattier but with low-ish miles, so if it gets hammered I won't lose too much. Cheapest that looks possible (UK) is a 955 Triumph Sprint ST, the old 955 Tigers generally seem to be more expensive, and although they look more 'adventure' whether it is any more capable off road is moot. I was interested in a DL650 V-Strom but again, they don't seem to be as good VfM as the Sprint's - basically anything over £2500 and I might as well take the BMW.

    Ah, the tent question. I kind a like the idea, although I'm no great camper, but the amount of extra kit I'm going to have to drag around with me for a few nights here and there is putting me off at the moment. Finding a room to stay in sounds like a great way to meet people - as long as my language skills don't cause offence! :)
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  4. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I'm not sure what my advice would be - probably to get a 660 Tenere and put a tent on the back. But I see they're a little pricey.
    I reckon if you're going to be a 2-bike person, the second one should be a bit dirtified.
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  5. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    Ha, ha, yes, agreed. I do also already have a Yamaha TTR250 that I use for trail riding locally.

    I know people do long trips on these, but with a fair bit of tarmac to cover and I also want to enjoy some of the Austrian Alps (Gross Glockner) en-route to Ljubljana, I would certainly need something more tarmac-friendly. I have looked around at the XTZ660, also the XL650/700 Honda's, and obviously another option is to swap the ST for a GS - I do like the belt on the ST though :)

    Now I'm getting serious about the trip, I think the first thing is to better understand what I might miss out on if I was restricted primarily to tarmac only.
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  6. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    Frankly, no matter what kind of bike you have, you're looking to cover quite a a bit of territory in four weeks, so I don't think you'll have much time for getting too far off the beaten tarmac path. Sure, you might miss out on a day or two of riding a dirt road in the Caucasus, but not the end of the world. If you already had a more dirt friendly bike I would certainly take it, but at this point I would stick with what you have.
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  7. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    yeah, agreed. Just been looking at Turkey and not even started in detail on Russia and there's already soooooo much I'm going to have to leave out! ☹

    Restricting myself to tarmac only will make some of those difficult decisions for me

    thanks for confirming my thoughts

    just need to choose between regular touring tyres or whether faux ' adventure' Tyres bring anything to the party?
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  8. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    Good point - 9000km, that's 320km per day average - https://goo.gl/maps/pDWgmHWTK6A2 - which means you'll have to do the occasional 640km days if you want any rest days.
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  9. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    I have a rough outline schedule at present. The idea is to blat through western europe (France, Germany, Poland, Netherlands...) as quickly as possible at the beginning and end to leave maximum time for everything else. Only exception is a bit of the Austrian alps but if things look tight even that may have to go...

    First week:
    Across France and Austria via Gross Glockner to Ljubljana. Through Zagreb to Belgrade, then Sibiu and Bucharest via the Transfagarasan. On to Istanbul.

    Second Week:
    Stop for ~3 days in Istanbul. Across Turkey's north coast in 4 days to Batumi, using modified East Karadeniz tour from the OMM Riders.

    Third week:
    From Batumi, 3 days to complete 4 day Caucasian Challenge route to Tbilisi. Over the Georgian Military road to Vladikavkaz and on to Volvograd via detour to Caspian Sea coast (my childhood dream!) and hopefully time for a swim :)

    Fourth Week:
    North of Volvograd TBD but aiming to be in Belarus for 2-3 days before heading home across Poland and Germany at the end!

    Gasp!
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  10. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    Would it be easier/faster to fly to say Istanbul and rent a bike and ride a big loop around the Black Sea?
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  11. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    I would definitely get Heidenaus or something similar--they are definitely better than street tires in some situations, like on the Georgian military highway. If you're only going 9000 km you probably don't need to change tires enroute, but if you do, don't assume that you'll be able to find good tires in Georgia, etc.

    I don't know what the Caucausian Challenge is, but anything that takes 4 days to get from Batumi to Tbilisi will probably involve some dirt roads in the mountains, so that is the one stretch that could be, well, a challenge. Otherwise, looks like you'll be moving so fast you won't have much time to dawdle around on anything but the major highways.
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  12. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    Having asked the question above, I've realised that anything other than sports/tourers may not be an option as my sizes are standard road 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear, so a bit limited.

    The Batumi-Tbilisi route goes via Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Mazeri and Ambrolauri, also taking in Svaneti. Sounds like some of these bits are not reachable on a road bike, so I may skip some of this and liberate some more days for elsewhere.

    From Vladikavkaz I'm now considering going across to Astrakhan to the Volga delta, and then I could follow the Volga (R22/AH8) from Astrakhan to Volgograd. Beyond that are the archeological remains at Kostenki just outside Voronezh, then Tolstoy's home at Tula...

    everready - bike hire from Istanbul...! OK, nobody likes a smart-Alec! :D:D

    Not considered that at all. I think, probably, there's nothing quite like the feel of setting off from home and returning back all on your own two wheels. On the other hand, it would bring all sorts of other things in to play, like The Ukraine, time in Bulgaria (just transiting at present) - maybe even time for a day or two's dirt biking from Tbilisi. Hmmmm, need to investigate what's available and prices for that sort of mileage.

    Cheers all :-)
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  13. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    Re: renting in Istanbul - you can't take a rental vehicle out of Turkey.
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    everready likes this.
  14. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    Transfargarian may not be open until mid June


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  15. istadniy

    istadniy Ivan the Quite OK

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    Taking a rented bike across borders in the region would be hard, if not simply impossible. And v1nn1e is pretty much doing as tight a loop around the Black Sea, as is possible on one passport. Turkey to Georgia is OK, but you cannot go along the coast through Abkhazia, so it has to be the military road north into Russia from there. Once in Russia, he could go to Crimea, but not on to Ukraine from there. And maybe not to Ukraine ever at all. He cannot go around the sea of Azov, because of war. North around the warzone would take him as high up as Kharkiv and if he went that far north he may as well take the better Belarusian roads back to EU.
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  16. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    Thanks for info everyone. I'm gutted that the TransFagarasan isn't open until late June - this was a must-do on my list! :(

    Not sure whether I will be able to re-schedule with my work for later in the year, but also I was hoping to get through Turkey before temperatures got too high...

    Hmmm, need to have a re-think. Can anyone confirm whether parts of it are open in May and is it an option to go part way, then double back and take an alternative? How much longer might that take?

    Cheers
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  17. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    Off the main highways, many of the roads in Georgia are not suitable for an 800ST. We rode Tbilisi to Batumi in a day using the road via Akhaltsikhe this Summer. Personally, I wouldn't have wanted to be on anything that wasn't significantly off-road capable. Parts of Ukraine too. You can do it, just not on those roads, on that bike.

    You could maybe do the Transfargarasan on the way back.
    #17
  18. v1nn1e

    v1nn1e Adventurer

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    Ah, yes, that's what I'm starting to discover. Now, interesting you say 'Off the main highways'. What I'm now thinking is to very much stick to the main highways and tarmac on the ST (they play Rugby and are part of the EU - there must be some!?) but rent a Trail bike, either from Batumi or Tbilisi and take 2-3 days to explore on that. Depends on price/availability etc.

    I've come across a couple of companies in Georgia that rent out but if anyone has first hand experience, would be interested to hear,

    Cheers
    #18
  19. ats30

    ats30 Adventurer

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    Hi
    Done all your planned route from Estonia to Estonia, around Black sea. We did extra Russian and Grusian side route, incl Volgograd, this sommer.
    I also hold my bike 3 years in Grusia and ride there in sommer holidays. So any guestions, enok.vassel(at)gmail.com or pm.
    Rugby, yes. Part of EU- no :)
    #19
  20. Wildman

    Wildman In my castle

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    I can recommend Kuba as a good guy, although haven't done any of his tours.
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