We crossed the border to Georgia without incident and once again rode to Husky in Tbilisi for another service. The plan was to lube the mousses and change engine oil, oil filter and wash and oil our air filters. However, upon popping off the tyres, it turned out that my rear mousse had started to split open from the inside edge. As the mousse was in perfect condition before heading to Armenia, I imagine the damage had been done by the mismatch in tire and mousse sizes. I had started off with a 120/90 Michelin AC-10 rear and a Michelin 120/90 Bib Mousse. During the previous service the rear tyre had been replaced with a 140/80 Metzeler Six Days Extreme M/S. I believe that the larger width of the tyre had not given enough sidewall support to the mousse and with the lower tyre profile it had essentially been forced into a bit of a pancake and started to split. I replaced it with a 140/80 Metzeler enduro mousse. The front Michelin Bib mousse was still doing good and went back in with fresh lube. From Husky we headed north, into the mountains and stayed at a fantastic small guest house.
We had heard of a mountain road which ran from Pshaveli to Omalo and was apparently thought of as a bit of an off-road gem in the Caucasus and decided to take a look. The scenery was beautiful as the trail climbed around 2500 meters into a high pass. Then again, it was not really a trail, but a maintained gravel road, which offered zero technical challenge. So to us, despite the absolutely stunning scenery, it was just a gravel road. So from the mountain pass we decided to ride back, instead of continuing to Omalo and riding back from there.
We had been lucky to take an early start and during the ascent had the road to ourselves. However, during the descent we had 4×4’s, minibuses and cars going up and down the road, which made the riding a little more apprehensive. We made it down in one piece though and reaching the central valley, turned west. The trail consisted mainly of agricultural gravel roads with a section of heavily rutted clay here and there on smaller sections. Once trails finally deteriorated into barely visible single track, we were stopped by a grim looking sign. It turned out that we had unwittingly ridden to the border of South Ossetia. Crossing it without a visa would have resulted in trouble, so we once again turned our bikes and rode back to the valley.
It seemed that most of our route would consist of gravel roads and anything smaller would be a cut-de-sac. I believe the not so distant memories magic of Armenia played into the decision of what to do next. Neither of us was overly excited about riding up and down the same trails let alone boring gravel roads, so we decided to head back west to Bucharest. We still had time for a bit of a detour, which had been bouncing in my head for a while.