After having travelled for a while, we have sometimes started to wonder about what true adventures actually are. It seems that the word is being used far too often, and whenever I hear it now, it has an echo of a well-worn cliché and also I am to blame for it.
I suppose we have been quite safe and lucky in our journey and been sort of sheltered in a way, whether it’s because we have been playing safe or whether it’s because travelling is not actually as dangerous and adventurous in the times of GPS and modern technology as some may think, I do not know for certain (but I think it’s a bit of both). However, even after a good few months, if people ask me “what is our biggest adventure?” or “what has been the most adventurous time/event in our adventure?” I say “Kazakhstan!” and so does Dainis and Ivars and it has probably also been The One Adventure.
After all our big hopes of travelling through different countries of Central Asia were crushed, in the end we would have to do with one BIG country – Kazakhstan, which, after considering all the pros and cons would have been perfectly fine with us if it was not for one slight problem.
Iranian visas in our pockets and our bikes screaming to get back on the road, we left Yerevan late in the afternoon (some time after 4 p.m.) on 15th March. Obviously our time management could have been a little bita lot better, but by the time we had organized all the little bits and bobs and said goodbyes it was somehow already late. Since we had set this as our absolute last leaving date (we wanted to make it in time for the Nowruz celebrations in Iran) we stuck to the plan and were hoping to cycle the flat distance till just before the first big uphill.
As usual, unexpected events occur along the way and we found ourselves some 20 or so km outside of Yerevan city border joining an Armenian picnic which mainly consisted of crispy lavash, freshly grilled fish and a lot of vodka. After a few toasts on Janapar (journey in Armenian), good health and happiness we managed to excuse ourselves, saying we still have some distance we planned to cover.
We had decided to go to Armenia without any expectations (not to repeat the same mistakes we’d made when entering Georgia) – no premature opinions, not expecting anything really, we would wait for Armenia to show its colours itself. This turned out to be the best decision we could have made.
As Ivars and Laura perfectly pointed out our resting place in Yalta was in no way ordinary. In the same vein the following day was not ordinary. We were already late (the usual morning ritual took us more than expected and it was already 12.30 when we were ready to leave) and thus there was no more time to waste, I had to jump on the saddle and pedal away.
Before leaving Sevastopol, I had spent some time looking over maps of Southern Crimea to understand what exactly I should expect there (I was particularly interested in elevation profile of the peninsula). For this purpose there is an excellent tool – cycleroute.org. In this simple and intuitive web site you can see the elevation profile for you chosen cycling route – all uphill and downhill sections are highlighted, you can see how steep and long is the climb. In our situation the practical significance was not so evident as we had already decided upon the chosen route. All I could do was to check if my worst fears corresponded to the reality. This time it was what happened – I found out that I will have to battle with several hills higher than the highest “mountain” in Latvia – Gaiziņkalns (312 meters above sea level).
The elevation graph showing the route from Yalta to Solnechnogorsk