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Caucasus and around the Black Sea on a 640 adv

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gatsch.hupfa, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    Hello, everybody!

    This is my first attempt to make a ride report (in English language, which makes it a little bit tricky).

    The one month journey started in Vienna and goes counterclockwise around the Black Sea through Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia,
    Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and back to Austria.

    If the current conflict in Ukraine makes it impossible to cross the Russian – Ukrainian border I will go back from the Caucasus as I came.
    I am already on the road and was rushing to Istanbul, because the focus is enjoying the northern Turkish and the Caucasian mountains.


    EDIT: I put some tracks in this zip file, feel free to use them.


    2014-08 Schwarzmeer.gpx includes all tracks for loading it to basecamp (all 190000 Points)
    2014-08 Schwarzmeer.kml or .kmz for viewing in Google Earth
    The Folder "gpx days max 9999 p" contains the daily tracks, sometimes two a day to avoid more than 9999 trackpoints, for uploading on your gps device

    "9999 Points.gpx" : the whole trip compressed
    tracks max 2000p.gpx: for basecamp, tracks with Maximum of 2000 Points


    EDIT: I put the very compressed gpx file 9999 points for download here too:



    EDIT (after the trip)

    here we have a map how the journey was projected:

    [​IMG]map gesamtplan by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    And this was the outcome:

    [​IMG]map gesamttour by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    _____________________________________________________________________ End edit

    So from the beginning:

    ---------- Day 1 -------- ouch, my ass hurts

    Vienna to Sibiu (ROM): 11 hours / 800 Km (total 800 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-05 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Intoducing my bike:

    P1080765 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    P1080767 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    It’s a KTM LC4 640 Adventure from 2003 (the best year), 15500 Km on the Clock, bought 3 Years ago for little money.
    Trying to travel as light as possible it’s a very good choice, and with 49 Kg of luggage (including the bags, rack, camping equipment, lots of
    repair kits, tools, water and the 7,5 Kg! spare tire) it will not be so hard to go difficult dirttracks too.

    The Journey was starting with a very boring highwaysession through Hungary.

    In Romania, going on main roads, I had a great experience with the traffic police:
    Rushing into a radarcontrol with 70 K’s (allowed 50) they stopped me, took away all my papers, and went to their airconditioned policecar,
    leaving me in the sunshine on this very hot day. They filled a huge form for about 15 minutes! I had to pay 90 Lei (some 20€) but had only 85
    in my pocket! He told me with a grin, that does not matter, in this case I don’t have to pay anything, turned around and went away.

    Sibiu (Hermannstadt in Siebenbürgen, founded by german settlers some 800 years ago) is the cleanest town in Romania, the even have a german
    mayor. Nice place to stay overnight. And here starts the Transfagarasan!
  2. Bike Guy

    Bike Guy Long timer

    May 20, 2005
    sierra foothills, hwy 49
    Will be following your r r. Also how well your 640 does on the road with the gear. Good luck from a 640 owner
  3. Potapych

    Potapych n00b

    Apr 14, 2014
    Moscow, Russia
    Very nice.

    I came back from Caucasus in the beginning of July. For second time visited Armenia and Georgia, this year with KTM 1190 R: moscow - rostov - vladikavkaz - tbilisi - yerevan - karabakh - tbilisi - kaheti - svaneti - tusheti - vladikavkaz.

    First of all, i suggest to replace Russian and Ukrainian parts of your trip with Armenia. Definitely the conflict in Ukraine will last for weeks or months, it is not safe anyway this year. Distances between interesting points in russian part of Caucasus (north caucasus) are much bigger, than in southern part of Caucasus. So armenia is much better investment of time, from my point of view.

    There are a lot of good places in Russia but you should understand clearly where you want to go and what you will do. Btw, it could be fun and exotic to go to Chechnya :huh — it is not far from Georgia and Grozny is interesting place to see. May be this sounds strange, but you can travel in safety there, much safer than other caucasian republics. The only problem is driving style of locals, it is like in georgia. :puke1
    But this is an option, only if you want to visit northern caucasus.

    So, i suggest you to route this way: from Istanbul via Central Turkey (Cappadocia! And may be Van lake and Ararat) to Batumi, Georgia. Then via "transajaria" way (not easy, but not too hard) through beautiful mountains to Vardzia (medieval town in cliffs).

    If you have chance to go to Armenia you should drive then to south to Yerevan. There are some minor sightseeng's on this way, nothing special. But after Yerevan you can go to Garni and Geghard — beautiful churches, Khor Virap and Noravank monasteries, Syunik region (Tatev monastery), if you have time you can go from tatev to most southern part of armenia to iranian border via unpaved roads and came back via "normal" roads. Then you have option to go to Karabakh, but i am not sure what are rules of visiting for you — but it worth to see it.
    You can go back to Georgia through Sevan lake and Goshavank monastery.
    There are a lot of other places to see an Armenia and some hidden (from western tourists) gems, but it depends how much time do you have.

    Anyway in Georgia you can continue to Tbilisi. From Tbilisi — to vashlovani national park. From Vashlovani — to Kakheti and then, if you want some extremal roads, to Omalo, Tusheti. Be careful — the only road is the most difficult and dangerous in this part of the world. :D And for sure you need to go with full tank there. And you need two days for this route. From Kakheti you can go back to Tbilisi via another road, and go to Shatili, Khevsurety — the road is unpaved, but it is much better than road to Omalo, you can visit Shatili medieval fortress in one day.

    Here, if you want to visit Russia, you should take you way to Stepantsminda to cross the border with Russia.
    If not you can continue to Western part of Georgia. Or after Russia. It is worth to visit Racha region (Ambrolauri and Oni) and then, if you want hard ways, try to reach Ushguli, Svanetia from Racha. Road is hard, be warned. But can be passed even with heavy enduro. Another way to reach svaneti is through Zugdidi to Mestia. Then you can go back to Batumi and Nothern part of turkey to Istanbul.

    From my experience this the optimal route. Do not hesitate to ask for contacts or points here. Good luck.

    P.s. Routes to Omalo and Ushguli are passable only till mid of September usually.
  4. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    Potapych, thanks a lot for your comments, I appreciate the thoughts of an insider about the situation going the northern way home. It comes more and more to my mind returning home via cappadokia. Armenia was on my plan B too, it depends on time, it's only one month in total.

    (I have learnt some basic russian language, so I wanted to know how it works going through russia, but I think I can use it in Georgia and Armenia also)

    spasiba, for sure I've got some more questions ...
  5. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 2 -------- being a hero

    Sibiu to Motosapiens motocamp (BUL): 7,5 hours / 540 Km (total 1340 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-06 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    The day started with a big challenge:

    [​IMG]P1080769 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    I had to pump this anti-rabies shot into my arm. And I am not a hero!
    At the end was easier than I thought.

    The Transfagarasan highway is crossing the Carpatian mountains, and it’s one of the nicest mountain passes I know.

    [​IMG]P1080775 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080776 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    2011 I already did this pass on a trip in november, with some snow on the street and ice in the tunnel:

    [​IMG]P1080778b by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Further south, next to the Bulgarian border, a very nice guy from a little snack bar offered some beer to me

    [​IMG]P1080783 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    From there it was not very far to inmate rtwdoug’s bike hotel (http://motosapiens.org/motocamp/Info), meeting nice people and nice bikes

    [​IMG]P1080787 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080788 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080789 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr
  6. Redkrouge

    Redkrouge Independent

    Oct 24, 2013
    Carouge, CH
    I'm in :1drink
  7. KTM 950S

    KTM 950S Been here awhile

    Aug 12, 2012
    Sounds like the start of a very nice trip...
    I am in!!!!
  8. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 3 -------- 152% humidity

    Motosapiens motocamp to Ahtopol (BUL): 9 hours / 410 Km (total 1750 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-07 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    In the morning I did some minor repair (reinforced an alloy sheet metal that avoids the rear tire eating the spare tire).
    On the road south of the camp on a pass I could see in far distance a megalomaniac monument which looked familiar to me.
    I hit the narrow road to north and here it was:

    [​IMG]P1080794 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080795 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080799 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    The Buzludzha monument situated on a historic battleplace was set up by the Communist Party only a bit more than 30 years ago to remember the founding of the Social Democratic Party. Nice.

    In 2009 I participated a Rally Raid (Rallye Bulgaria) and exactly here was one of the checkpoints.
    And I could not believe my eyes, right now there was another Rallye going on!
    And even better, I met 2 Austrians up there I knew from former enduroraces.

    I did not want to go the direct way to Turkey on these heavily crowded mainroads, so I decided to have a first look to the Black Sea and went east.

    The closer I came the more I sweat, it was hot and the humidity grew higher and higher.
    I never ever was wet as this under my suit without any rain. When I came to Athopol, a nice little resort with lots of Bulgarian tourists I checked
    in the first hotel with aircondition I saw.

    At the bookstore:

    [​IMG]P1080805 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Waitress in a hurry because weather will change very soon ….

    [​IMG]P1080807 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr
  9. IvanRUS

    IvanRUS Been here awhile

    Jan 30, 2013
    Novorossiysk, Russia
    Super Monster !!!:clap

  10. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

    Apr 11, 2012
    I will be watching as i plan to do that route next year
    Best of luck

  11. Potapych

    Potapych n00b

    Apr 14, 2014
    Moscow, Russia
    Yes, you need 5-6 days for Armenia (+2-3 for Karabakh) and about 12 for Georgia to see all major regions.

    Do you need routes for Vashlovani park?
  12. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna

    Ushguli, Shatili and Omalo were on my plan. But Vashlovani park sounds new to me, I would appreciate to hear more about this destination. For me it's difficult to get information here and now. Tracks / routes are welcome to gatsch.hupfa@gmx.at .
  13. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 4 -------- a real adventure

    Ahtopol to Kerpa (TR): 9.5 hours / 500 Km (total 2250 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-08 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    The morning started as the day before ended

    [​IMG]P1080808 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    At my hotel they served fine breakfast, and you could have red and white wine out of an automatic dispenser – I did not try.
    They like these machines:

    [​IMG]P1080809 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    I hit a small and winding road to the Turkish border when it started to rain, and lazy as I am, I only put on my rainjacket but not the trousers.
    What a mistake … wet again. The border was easy to cross, had fun with the men from customs while waiting for better weather.
    Right from the Turkish side of the border started a 4 lane wide highway – what a difference to the pothole equipped Bulgarian side.

    I rushed to Istanbul for not being late, because I heard about huge traffic jams in and around this metropolis.
    But there was already a 30 Km long row of standstill awaiting me on the outer ring highway. What a mess!

    And then I learned how to drive in Istanbul: On the breakdown lane a policecar with siren and flashing light passed, and some 100 meters behind there was a motorcycle following the same speed.

    I went behind the motorcycle and could make the first 5 kilometers with ease. Then the policecar went off and the motorcycle started to accelerate,
    much too fast for me, there were people and open doors everywhere.

    In the distance I could see a policeofficer with his bike sstanding on "my" lane and I left into the jam. But there were other motorcycles and scooters using the emergencylane as if it was built only for bikers. I followed them and passed several policemen, I greeted them as motoriders do and they greeted back.
    So the whole traffic jam was done in less than one hour!

    After this I felt very very uncomfortable riding in a crowd of overheated, frustrated and anarchic drivers, many of them going too slow or much too fast. I remembered a survival trick I learnt many years ago in Cairo on my Vespa: Don’t move hectially, do everything smooth, choose a big overland bus that travels your speed and stay behind.

    Normally I try to dominate the traffic just for safety – but here no way.

    I left this unwanted adventure and went north to the Black Sea again, much too early.

    But I was in Asia!
  14. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    I am not able to edit my posts. I only see an empty field and the cryptic letters: <TABLE class=tborder cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=4 width="100%" align=center border=0 abp="195"> <TBODY abp="196"> <TR abp="197"> <TD class=tcat abp="198">The following errors occurred with your submission: </TD></TR> <TR abp="199"> <TD class=alt1 abp="200"><!--POSTERROR do not remove this comment-->
    1. The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 1 characters.
    any ideas?

    I wanted to add this pic which was shot next to the BUL / TR border:

    [​IMG]P1080812 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    what's that?
  15. IvanRUS

    IvanRUS Been here awhile

    Jan 30, 2013
    Novorossiysk, Russia
    Do not be afraid! :)
    It's just portraits of famous Bulgarian people: Ivan Vazov (&#1048;&#1074;&#1072;&#1085; &#1042;&#1072;&#1079;&#1086;&#1074;) - the poet; others - Marxist revolutionaries and anarchists.
  16. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    IvanRUS, maybe I can add somthing new to your very nice thread obout the best places to advrider in Turkey.

    I am already in Trabzon now, heading south into the mountains.

    (This RR is always some days behind)
  17. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 5 -------- an impressive symphony

    Kerpa to Amasra: 5.5 hours / 300 Km (total 2550 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-09 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    I woke up very early because a huge thunderstorm rolled over the village. There were 2 flashes going down in the neighborhood and the thunder came with absolutely no delay. Heavy rain showers followed.
    The people at the campground on the other side of the street were very busy.

    It did not stop raining, so I decided to start this thread, preparing fotos and doing some research how to get them into this forum. It was and is
    more time-consuming than I thought.

    Suddenly I was interrupted by a loud krrrzkrclak followed by overwhelming dialog between a muezzin and all dogs of the village followed by another
    kkkkrzclak when he unplugged his microphone again.

    On the road again I discovered that wet turkish road markings have absolutely no grip. Good to know.
    But there were other strange things:

    [​IMG]P1080819 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    And here you can buy cheap yachts:

    [​IMG]P1080820 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Or they can build them for you:

    [​IMG]P1080822 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Much coal minig ….

    [​IMG]P1080826 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    …. for clean energy

    [​IMG]P1080827 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Had to wait 20 minutes till they built the road:

    [​IMG]P1080828 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    And finally: Amasra, the destination of the day. Lovely.

    [​IMG]P1080834 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    And it’s absolutely no problem to find an ATM.

    [​IMG]P1080848 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr
  18. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 6 -------- Diogenes was here

    Amasra to Sinop: 6.5 hours / 325 Km (total 2875 Km)

    [​IMG]map 2014-08-10 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    This road along the coast is a dream to ride. Most times it winds in narrow curves 100 meters up the hills along the coast.

    [​IMG]P1080850 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Even if the road is straight, and this part was for 3 Kilometers, it has some interesting note.

    [​IMG]P1080851 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Some people say, it’s in a very bad condition. Maybe it was improved or you don’t feel it on a bike with long travel and a good suspension ?.
    Well, the worst part was this: washboard (?) on tarmac (I know this phenomenon only on sandy roads, but you always have to learn) for little grip in
    combination with well filled pampers for even less grip.

    [​IMG]P1080852 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Nice place to live!

    [​IMG]P1080859 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Turkish people like their flag

    [​IMG]P1080864 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    It was a torture for the tires

    [​IMG]P1080857 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    for those who are interested:
    Mitas E07 after some 7500 Kms. As most of us I also try to find the perfect tire for me and my mix of demands. I am very close already:

    front Heidenau K60 scout for sure. After 7000 k’s on a Transalp 650 it was less than half done, on wet tarmac I don’t know a better tire, and
    offload it’s better than it looks.

    On the rear this Mitas E07 is a good choice: it has done some 1000 k’s on the razorbladsharp roads of Corsica, and some 3500 k’s as a mix on- and
    offroad in Liguria and at home. The only downside I’ve experienced so far is the grip on wet tarmac.
    And I will be able to compare it to the Heidenau K60 scout rear very soon.

    This trip also is a test ride for projects in the future, namely through the Stans to Mongolia: How the bike does, finding the equipment you never
    used, which tires last long enough, and am I not a little bit too old for this?

    Sinop is very colorful at night

    [​IMG]P1080874 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    [​IMG]P1080876 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr
  19. Clem Kevin

    Clem Kevin Long timer

    Aug 17, 2007
    Really enjoying your the photos and perspective in your thread. More please!
  20. gatsch.hupfa

    gatsch.hupfa mud.jumper

    May 3, 2010
    next to Vienna
    ---------- Day 7 -------- lazy monday

    Staying in Sinop: 0 hours / 0 Km (total 2875 Km)

    I decided to stay. Calm down. Good food, nice hotel, fast and stable web access. I did some laundry and paperwork.

    How to get to the toilet?

    [​IMG]P1080884 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    A little walk:

    [​IMG]P1080886 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    starting the renovation

    [​IMG]P1080889 by gatsch.hupfa, on Flickr

    Time to introduce myself:

    Due to lack of time I copy and pasted it from tigerhome.de Forum



    mann o mann, 53
    mit 18 erste Erfahrungen mit einer unfahrbaren KTM 350 Zweitakt Enduro
    nach 2 Wochen Schlüsselbein ab, Bike verscherbelt
    dann viele Jahre nix
    so 10 Jahre später mit Vespa 200 und Sozia durch Ägypten, ja das geht, solange der Sand nicht tief wird
    daraufhin, wegen großer Freud am Geländefahren, eine der ersten KTM LC4 gekauft
    ich bin die folgenden Jahre heil geblieben, KTM selten
    Bike in Korsika geklaut, Yamaha 500A Silbertank als Ersatz, damit viele Reisen (Chaberton ...)
    dann parallel dazu noch mal eine LC4, damit erste Rennerfolge auf niedrigstem Niveau
    Honda XL 500 löst XT ab, noch mehr Reisen (Ksar Ghilane... Freundin mit dabei auf DR350)
    dank des genialen österreichischen Wechselkennzeichensystems häufen sich Bikes:
    KMT duke1 (und damit die Anfänge von Supermoto in Ö erlebt), Honda Transalp 600 vollbekoffert
    Enduro ÖM halbwegs erfolgreich, Erzberg in seinen Anfängen, zuletzt mit Husaberg 400 statt der wirklich greisen LC4
    2000 dann alle Bikes verkauft, wegen Nachwuchs, Karenz
    Abstinenz hat allerdings nicht lange gehalten, wie gewohnt mit KTM LC4 SCX 625 wiedereingestiegen, wahlweise schnell zur Supermoto umrüstbar oder zum Wüstenschiff
    dann LC8 zum Reisen, EXC 400 zum Hardcoreendurieren nach dem Motto die heimische Motorradindustrie unterstützen...
    viel Spaß bei diversen Rallys...
    als Ausreißer muss man die Aprilia Moto 6.5 sehen, ein selten seltsames Bike, allerdings super für den ersten beschaulichen Frühlingsausflug
    naja und jetzt eben die Tiger 1050 2007, weil die LC8 auf der langen Etappe doch eher holprig ist.
    und dann die 640 adv fürs fernreisen aufbauen

    Vielleicht hab ich dazwischen noch was vergessen, bin ich doch bei meinem (erst) zweiten Knochenbruch zusätzlich mit dem Kopf aufgeschlagen. Dafür ist das ursprünglich ziemlich schief zusammengewachsene Schlüsselbein jetzt wieder kerzengerade.

    and here what google translator made out of the text: :rofl



    man o man, 53
    with 18 first experience with a drivable KTM 350 two-stroke Enduro
    sold off after 2 weeks from clavicle, Bike
    then many years nothing
    so 10 years later Vespa 200 and sociality through Egypt, so this works as long as the sand is not deep
    then purchased because of large Freud on-road driving, one of the first KTM LC4
    I'm still healing the following years, KTM rarely
    Bike stolen in Corsica, Yamaha 500A silver tank as a replacement for many trips (Chaberton ...)
    then parallel again a LC4, so first racing success at the lowest level
    Honda XL 500 XT triggers off more Travel (Ksar Ghilane ... girlfriend while on DR350)
    thanks to the brilliant Austrian exchange indicator system accumulate Bikes:
    KMT duke1 (and thus experienced the beginnings of Supermoto in east), Honda Transalp 600 vollbekoffert
    Enduro OEM reasonably successful, Erzberg in its infancy, most recently with Husaberg 400 instead of truly venerable LC4
    2000 then sold all bikes for offspring, parental
    Abstinence, however, has not long held, as usual joined with KTM LC4 625 SCX, optionally be quickly converted to Supermoto or ship of the desert
    then LC8 along the lines of support for travel, EXC 400 for Hardcoreendurieren the domestic motorcycle industry ...
    fun at various rallies ...
    as outliers have to see the Aprilia Moto 6.5, a rare strange bike, but great for the first tranquil spring outing
    Well, and now just the Tiger 1050 2007, because the LC8 on the long stage is rather bumpy.
    and then build the 640 adv for telescope

    Maybe I've forgotten something in between, I'm in my (only) second fracture also pitched with his head. for this
    is originally quite wrong-knit collar bone now straight again.


    shall I translate it to you?