This September I’ll be doing something unprecedented: taking a small group of keen riders on one of Tom’s Bike Trips 🙂

The ride in question? A self-supported group bikepacking expedition across the Republic of Armenia, through which we will raise funds for the Transcaucasian Trail.

Armenia is a country I’ve got to know intimately over the years – you already know why – and it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be running this trip if I didn’t. By participating, you’ll get the opportunity to see this stunning country through my eyes: I’ll take you to all the places I’ve discovered and grown to love during my years of exploring Armenia.

Dates: September 7th–22nd 2019
Cost: £500 + personal fundraising goal


About the ride:

  • I’ll run this trip if at least 6 people sign up and pay their deposits by the deadline (see below for details).
  • There are a total of 10 spots available, first come first served – I want to keep the group size small and the experience personal.
  • We’ll be covering a total of 550–650km over a two-week period, with around 15,000m of elevation gain and loss. The theme of the trip is going to be tough but rewarding.
  • Average daily distance will be 40–65km, with up to 8 hours a day in the saddle (but usually less). There’ll be a few shorter, easier days towards the start, but you’ll need to hit the ground spinning!
  • Average daily elevation gain/loss will be anywhere between 1000–2000m. This is quite substantial. There are no flat days (except your rest days!).
  • A minimum of 80% of the ride will be on dirt roads, jeep tracks and singletrack, and the (unavoidable) remainder on quiet paved roads. You’ll need to be set up for dirt road riding on a rig you know will work.
  • As well as riding, we’ll be stopping to visit every cultural and historical site I can cram in along the route – it won’t all be biking! – as well as inevitably stopping to say ‘hello’ to curious locals along the way!
  • We will have a shared cash budget for camp meals and decide on the ‘menu’ as a group. You may decide to partner up with other riders and share cooking gear at the start of the trip, but everyone should bring their own personal cookset for maximum flexibility. Riding snacks will be your own responsibility and expense.
  • If you have any special dietary requirements, it’ll be best if you take out your portion of the budget and organise your own meals and cooking gear (I can help with what’s available locally).
  • Overnights will be around 50:50 guesthouses and wild camping (with up to 3 days’ camping in a row). In guesthouses we will usually be sharing twin rooms, but please expect there to be some variation as accommodation in rural Armenia is pretty rustic!
  • Two or three rest days will be scheduled at appropriate stopping points – exactly how many and where will depend on the needs of the group.
  • This will be a self-supported ride, so you’ll need to bring your own full, self-supported bikepacking rig and previous self-supported bikepacking experience. More details on the packing list will be sent over closer to the time. If you’ve never bikepacked before, this trip is not for you.
  • We’ll have a support vehicle on standby in Yerevan in case of injury or other emergency, but please be aware that we will be spending most of our time a long way from civilisation and medical facilities. You should anticipate this and take out travel insurance as necessary.
  • I’ll be drafting a few route options, but this is an exploratory trip through remote parts of the Armenian mountains, so things on the ground will be very flexible (and that’s a good thing!)
  • Group members don’t always ride at the same pace, so I’ll be sharing the route with you in advance. You’ll be expected to have your own means of navigating it (ie: a GPS unit or smartphone with appropriate apps).
  • I’m going to be there as your cultural guide and translator to help you get the most out of your time Armenia. In other words, I’m looking for riders who can look after themselves in terms of the day-to-day routine of bikepacking (having said that, don’t underestimate yourself!)
  • We won’t be following this route, but if you want to get an idea of what you’re in for, check out BIKEPACKING.com‘s Armenia route here., and also have a browse of CyclingArmenia.com (which I set up last year).
  • Finally, please bear in mind that this is the first time I’ve offered to run a guided bike trip! I’ll do my best to make this a fun and rewarding ride for everyone involved, but it’s still going to be an adventure, which means there are things we won’t know about until they happen. I’ll ask you to exercise patience and understanding in case of unavoidable changes of plan, and – as with all adventures – to embrace the unexpected 🙂

Costs

  • The £500 base cost includes transport to/from Yerevan, accommodation, a shared budget for camp food, all ‘indoor’ meals, and guiding.
  • It doesn’t include items of a personal nature (e.g. phone credit), riding snacks, visas or applicable fees, international flights, accommodation in Yerevan, personal travel insurance, tips to guesthouses, meals or activities on rest days, or any personal biking/camping equipment.

Payment & Terms

  • I’ll ask you to complete a short questionnaire before your spot is confirmed – this is so I can ensure as far as possible that this trip is right for you. I want you to have fun! 🙂
  • If all is well, I’ll ask you to pay a 50% deposit (£250) by March 1st 2019 to secure your spot on the trip.
  • I’ll ask you to pay the remaining 50% balance no later than one month before departure, ie: before August 7th 2019.
  • Payments can be made by UK bank transfer (preferred) or Paypal.
  • If fewer than 6 people have paid their deposits by the deadline, the trip will be off and I’ll refund you in full immediately.
  • If you cancel your trip after the deposit deadline but before a month before departure, I will already have incurred unrecoverable costs, but can refund 50% of your deposit in good will.
  • If you have paid in full but cancel your trip within a month of departure, I won’t be able to refund you as the funds will already be committed. (Your travel insurance policy may cover cancellation, however.)

Fundraising

  • Beyond the basic fee to cover costs, once you’re signed up, I’ll set up a crowdfunding platform for you to individually fundraise for the Transcaucasian Trail‘s work in Armenia as part of your ride. Without my involvement in this project, I can guarantee you that the ride would not be possible. Charity rides are often thinly veiled excuses to go on holiday, but this is the opposite: you will be directly contributing to the building of new trails in Armenia for future riders (and hikers)!
  • I’ll set up the platform and suggest a reasonable fundraising target for you to work towards, but spreading the word and getting donations will be up to you. I won’t be pressuring anyone to do more of this than they’re comfortable with, but (obviously) the more you raise, the better for future travellers in Armenia!
  • On a similar note, I will actively encourage photography, blogging, social media and all the rest of it to make this ride as visible as possible and entice more adventurous riders here in the future.

FAQ

  • Nobody’s asked any questions yet, and I don’t like fake FAQs, so I’ll post these as they come in 🙂
  • Got a question you want to ask before signing up? Use the contact form here.

Still up for it?

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