The word ‘epic’ is often over used, but when it comes from our friend Marc Maurer, who last year rode from Cologne to the Black Sea and decided rather than to fly home, he’d just turn around and ride back…we had to pay attention.
Marc’s journey is fully justified as ‘epic’ he left mid of May 2015 headed for Istanbul, Turkey and the Caucasus mountains. His journey was total 4000km, passing through culturally rich regions of Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and finally Iran. Along the way he visited many stunning locations across the Caucasus, keep your eyes on this channel for future photos and videoclips.
Marc was traveling alone for the most part, but occasionally met up with friends for certain stretches of the journey. His daily companion was our prototype ‘Beyond’, a bike built and designed to be capable for virtually any adventure you have in mind. On road or off it, the Beyond uses a geometry that ensures a stable and solid feeling no matter how loaded the bike is. Marc was carrying everything he needed with him thanks to a set of bike bags and rear pannier bags. In addition to the luggage, Marc has made a few other adjustments to the bike for his trip, with a TT bar, dyno hub and his trusty Flite saddle.
THE NEXT STAGE – CAPPADOCIA TO GEORGIA
After leaving Cappadocia and passing the Black Sea coast Marc and his “Beyond” bike now entered Georgia. He just cycled to Ushguli, the highest permanently inhabited place in europe (2100m), crossed the Zagar pass (2623m, 7°) and could only manage about 30-40km a day (even including downhill) due to real bad tracks, heavy rain, snow, landslides and lots of river crossings… due to the current thunderstorm that invaded Tiflis he is currently awaiting to travel into Georgia’s capital. Watch the pics he took on his way and stay tuned!
GOING FURTHER – GEORGIA TO AZERBAIJAN
Marc – “[…] With a maximum of 44°C, the semi-desert region on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan stretched me to the limit. It wasn’t only because of the exhausting weather, I also took a wrong road and ended up in a military zone. A passing by patrol asked me to leave the area, since I had no permission to pass through. Unfortunately, I was already far too deep in this area to turn back, so I decided to hide for a while and then proceeded on this route. I ended up with 2,5 l of water for 1,5 days, continued riding and managed to cover 60km of dusty road without ANY water. At one point a bomb exploded behind a hill, right next to me; I can’t describe the intensity of the sound and how frozen in shock i was. At least, I was filming at that moment and got some good footage of the blast, which will certainly make it into the video documentary.
Currently, I am in Kazbegi after conquering one of the toughest passes (2385m) on my journey. Pictures will be part of my next post. I saw snowy mountain ranges reaching to 5000m high and rode the biggest serpentines I have ever seen; and thankfully the temperature is back down to a perfect 25°C.”
FINAL STAGE – ARMENIA TO IRAN
Armenia is a blast with its beautiful nature and nasty mountains! The Armenian are unbelievable friendly, curious and interested people… waving, shouting, hooting all day long – it is just brilliant! So one day I made a quick stop to refill my water bottles. At the stop, there were these mean looking soldiers refilling their watertanks of their trucks. After some chit-chat, they warmed up and we drank beer together (they even challenged me to drink a beer in one go) and we had a great time together, with lots of joking around – all at eleven o’clock in the morning, right before a mountain climb towards the iranean border.
Iran, what a country! The weeks cycling in this incredible country showed how such a false impression the media can give. In Iran EVERBODY was waving along the way and wanted to shake your hand and take a picture with you. They just generally want to welcome you to the country. Random people invite you to stay at their house and to be their guests – almost every day, and on most days, several times!
One day I was setting up camp under some trees on a patch of land, when two young guys came to say hello. I asked if it was ok for me to camp there and they said yes. We shook hands and they went off. After about 20min, they came back with a thermos flask with tea, a cup and sugar, plus a water melon. They gave me the stuff and went off again. I had some tea, ate the water melon and went off to bed. About an hour later, I was woken up by a lot of voices and as I look out of my tent, there were about 12 people with flash lights – the two guys had brought, more or less, half the village and they all wanted to say a “Hello” and welcome me… Iran is a country where even the police stops you and invites you for a cup of tea. But not only if you want to feel like a famous person you should come to Iran!
Read the whole story at Bombtrack Bicycle Co.