Yesterday morning seemed like a repetition of the morning two days earlier, as we were in the same town and in need of fuel, water and food. With those sorted, we made a quick exit and reconnected with the trail about 10 km Northeast, where it would again climb into the mountains.
The trail I had planned would again rise to a high plateau at over 3,000 m, and I had high hopes that we would cross 3,500 m mark. The trail ascended gently over pastures and green grass. The landscape was dotted with shepherds’ camps and as always we were chased by their ferocious sheep dogs. Still I’ve yet to ever see one of the huge beasts bite so they are nothing to worry about.
We stopped briefly to have our breakfast on the slope before continuing up rally style. The trail was superb as it snaked up the gentle mountainside. As before the ascent gave access to a high grass plateau dotted with rocks and boulder fields here and there.
Unfortunately this high plateau was at a lower elevation then the one we had ridden a few days earlier southeast of the lake. Still it was a real playground for the enduro enthusiast, and we made the most out of it, riding around aimlessly from mound to mound, over water crossings and rock fields. However at over 3,000 m the power output of the 500 EXC is significantly reduced, and you need to be heavy on the throttle to get the front wheel off the ground to clear obstacles. I can only imagine how hard it would be on a 250.
All good things come to an end, which was also the fate of our time in the magical high grass plateaus of Armenia. As we began our 1700 m descent, the trail became very loose and rocky, but offered no significant technical challenges.
We soon found ourselves riding tarmac to Yerevan, and a day off. The rest day would be very welcome as the riding in Armenia had been fairly taxing. Furthermore I have a small injury in my left shoulder, which was the result of the handlebars whacking violently to the left as I hit a rock at high speed a couple of days earlier. I don’t think it’s anything serious, just more of an irritation, but it’s been getting a little more sore gradually, so a rest day will probably do good. On Monday we will ride back to the Georgian border and revisit Husky in Tbilisi for another oil change and mousse relube among other small service items.
To be honest I had not given much time to Armenia when planning the route, and now having seen it first-hand I must say that it truly surprised me. The terrain and riding absolutely stunning and it will be interesting see what Georgia has to offer. At least for me the bar has been set very high indeed.