Quarry to Yelping Pass 80km
To Yerevan 95km
For two nights now I've slept in my ExPed sleeping bag, zipped to the chin, the first serious use it's had since sharing it with Tessa in India. And I've been very cozy, although in the mornings the exterior of the sleeping bag has been damp, but not like my ExPed tent. Both mornings I've been weary of trying to fold it too soon, as it has been stiff with frost, the fly almost standing unsupported. That's what you get for camping near alpine passes. I'd much rather wake up to a downhill, than the prospect of a long uphill grind first thing in the morning, and that's how it has worked out the last couple of days.
Downhills. You have to love them. The first was surreal. I was layered up to the max. ... even with raincoat hood up, over balaclava, three pairs of gloves, and multiple layers of Icebreaker, silk and wool, and headed downhill. I couldn't hear anything but wind. I could barely operate the brake levers. My glasses were fogging up so visibility was not great, but I was warm, and for 45km coasted, without a pedal stroke, down some of the most awesome switchbacks, through some amazing gorges.....and too rugged up to operate the camera.....hehehe. Glorious. And then for it all to happen again, although without the need of so much clothing, a second day in a row, this time with amazing views of Mt Ararat, you've got to almost pinch yourself to realise it's actually happening. Mind you, both days there was alot of grinding uphill before setting up for the night. But the reward.......
Oh the reward the first day was even better. I found a Cafe with wifi at the bottom of the hill, and Ju and Fletch updated me on the French vs ABS match. Woohoo. The reward the second day was fresh warm bread with banana squeezed between crunchy crusts....Yummy. Armenia goes to the top of the "Fresh bread" list....No 1.
But not all is rosy. My bike computer has stopped working. In India the same happened after a huge rain storm. This time I think it must be the freezing conditions. I've replaced the battery and checked all the leads and connections but can't make it work. Bother. And, the trailer had another puncture, but that's understandable, as the tyre tread is very very thin. Time for a new one. And here I am in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Hopefully I can find a bike shop.
Cities are pretty much all alike, especially ex Soviet cities. Ugly apartment blocks, unsightly heating pipes, and bad side roads. But having just spent a month in Iran, I can't help but notice the difference in dress. Men in tight jeans and faux leather jackets, and the women in tight leather ......everything. Rather eye catching.
I found a hotel, after three attempts, that doesn't want to charge me $60 a night. For $30 I've got one of the grottiest rooms I've slept in for some time, but I've had my laundry done, my sleeping bag is dry, and my tent has been thawed and dried, and I found a pretty damn good pizza. And if I sit outside the office, I get wifi. I think I'll find a bike shop today and move on. Semi finals rugby, sitting in front of a TV with some Georgian enthusiasts is beckoning.