Harrogate to India cycle: Latest from Armenia

Tom, Rhys and new SaddleSore man Mario (s)
Tom, Rhys and new SaddleSore man Mario (s)

Harrogate friends Tom Cartledge and Rhys James set out from Hookstone Drive in March, aiming to cycle from Harrogate to India.

They are raising money for charities The Railway Children and St Michael’s Hospice.

The Harrogate Advertiser series is keeping up-to-date with their progress. The pair have reached Georgia, and sent this report.

After a healthy rest period in Georgia both of us were unbelievably eager to get back to the saddles and discover new perspectives. Georgia had been a fantastic host in so many different ways and left us with some very fine memories and lasting friendships but it was time to get those pedals moving and cycle on to Armenia.

When we finally picked up our Iranian visas on a warm Friday afternoon, we hurried with elation back to Hostel Romantik which had been our family for the past few months.

Waiting for us here was a mighty send off of friends who had all congregated to wave us on our way and wish us luck.

This was possibly one of the most emotionally charged sections of the trip nevertheless the road was waiting and there was a race on to get out of the city before sundown.

Plans had been made to meet our good friend Mario from Norway (whom we met through couchsurfing a year ago), in Yerevan on September 9 and there was 300km lying between us and the Armenian capital.

Crossing the border with my new passport wasn’t a problem but the guards did look over Rhys’ water damaged documents a number of times before coming to protocol and letting us pass.

After a shaky few moments we were set free into the Armenian Republic. The harsh heat bellowed down over us and began to drain us of our energy without a town in sight.

Kilometers after the border the first mountain spring came into sight which filled our hopes immensely and saved us from the on setting dehydration.

While filling up our water bottles and spirits here a kind man pulled over in his overflowing fruit truck to speak Russian with us and hand us a huge bag of fresh delicious figs.

This was the energy we needed and the real warm welcome we had been looking for.

These moments always make me wonder if I would be as kind with strangers who I can’t even communicate with when I’m in my own country or dwelling?

At first the road in Armenia followed the Debed river region through a stunningly beautiful canyon which left the pair of us scraping our jaws along the floor in admiration.

Speechless is a word too often used to lightly to describe a feeling, but as the sun began to set over our mountainside camp the both of us were literally too tired to speak.

We couldn’t peel our eyes away from the canyon’s glowing cliffs until nightfall was too swiftly upon us and then all that was left to say was goodnight!

The northern towns of Alaverdi and Vanadzor hadn’t exactly been spectacles of beauty upon the eyes but their natural surroundings will leave us with lifelong memories and scars!

While cycling down one of the longest hills in the north of the country an erratic driver took over a car climbing the hill and very nearly struck Rhys.

Needless to say we were both rather shaken up by the incident and Rhys still holds the physical wounds.

Upon eventually crunching the kilometers and reaching Yerevan we met our Norwegian friend Mario (the new member to the Saddle Sore Team), where we checked into a cheap but hospitable homestay.

The road now leads us on towards the shores of the Armenian highlight: Lake Sevan, before climbing many more mountain ranges until we reach our next county and exotic spectacle: Iran!

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