Off-road Touring, Beautiful Balkans

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Gliga, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. blacktiger

    blacktiger Tigers R great.

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    I notice Bacon's onboard. Is he or has he updated the Bacon's Journey thread?
  2. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos brb

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    Yes he has :)
  3. ar1814

    ar1814 Been here awhile

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    Swiss Alps
    Amazing thread ! Just keep on updating
  4. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Serbia
    Thanks for the support, you're all simply great :clap

    Update coming soon, very soon.
  5. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Day one (Sarajevo-Visocica mountain)

    Another late start today, my fault again. This time we have added bonus of ever increasing rainfall. It didn't look like it plans to ease off anytime soon so there was no point in waiting.

    Right from the beginning we're riding on gravel road up the Igman mountain. This particular road used to be Sarajevo's only life line during the war. All food and medications had to pass here... As soon as we started climbing we found ourselves in a cloud. Dense fog, heavy rain, misting visor, soaked gloves. You know the drill. When weather is nice you can get some cool views from this road. All we could see now was a whiteout...

    At some point we got above that low layer of clouds. Rain eased off and it looked like it would clear up later during the day. We reached Bjelasnica ski resort where we planned to climb to the top following the track which goes up the ski slopes. When we got to start of the really steep part we decided not to do it. Fully loaded Africa with street oriented tires was far from optimal solutions for a steep, wet and loose climb.

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    We climb some more as weather is constantly changing. Road climbing to the top of Bjelasnica has some 17 switchback turns and has been renovated earlier this year. We're in a cloud once more, it's windy and it's chilly. When we stop I take opportunity to warm up the gloves using engine heat. We also visited another destroyed military base nearby.

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    Riding down from the top we're once again in extremely changing weather. In one hairpin we'd ride trough a cloud and then be in sunshine in next one. This repeated all the way down... My bike took the opportunity to tip over from side stand as I intelligently left gearbox in neutral on downhill.

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    Next we ride toward Lukomir medieval village.

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    Lukomir village is located at the edge of Rakitnica river canyon, one of deepest canyons in Europe. It's difficult to imagine more attractive position...

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    We had to do some backtracking in order to rejoin with main road in Umoljani village. There is one shortcut here, only technical section for today. Road is not being used anymore so it is in rough shape. It's fun riding thou.

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    Before we started riding I had some loose plan that we'll cover around 300 kilometers today. Late start, rain, slow riding pace and numerous photo stops meant that by this point we only covered some 70 km, with sunset approaching. Not a big deal as both of us had plenty of time and this area is ideal for camping. Just before we reached pavement PJ's rear tire picked up a nail. By the time we reached flatter ground his bead was broken so at least he didn't struggle with that. An hour later we were ready to roll. Not bad for first roadside tire change :thumb

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    We have some 10-15 kilometers of nice and narrow winding pavement and then just a little gravel to reach our camping spot for today. Nice meadow along the road, with mandatory small stream in between.
  6. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Day two (Visocica-Zelengora)

    Morning is cloudy but there's no rain and it looks like it's going to clear up later on. Yesterdays judgement error meant that we now don't have any proper food and it will be a long time before we reach town where it is possible to buy some.

    As we were in middle of packing up (you know that phase where stuff is lying everywhere) we found ourselves in a path of cow herd. It was interesting trying to make them go around our stuff instead stamping over it. Talking with older lady, herding the cows, once again reminds me how welcoming people living away from urban centers are. Sadly, I'm also reminded of horrors which they lived trough during the war, as she lost one of her sons... She was worried if we were cold last night and told me that we could knock on anybodies door in a village and they would be more than happy to house and feed us...
    -Life is tough here. We must look one after another and help each other...

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    Right at the start of today's ride we had to choose between two roads. Shorter and attractive one which I knew from previous visit or longer and unknown... Both of them would meet up later on. We decided that it was time for exploration and took longer route. To put it simply: not the best decision. First part winds trough a dense forest and there's nothing else to see. After Donja Ljuta village road turns into a little used double track and again, there is nothing worth mentioning. Oh well, I now know which one to take next time :)

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    One of rare opportunities to actually see something. Treskavica mountain.


    In Argud village we reconnect with pavement road which soon takes us down into Neretva canyon. Thirty kilometers of twisties later we reach lake Boracko where it's time to leave pavement once again. At first road leads over a steep slope, right above the lake, and trough a forest. As we reach the pass surroundings change immediately. Steep slope is replaced with plateau, and forest turns into grass. Medieval graveyard is nearby.

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    There was one pavement section somewhere around here, luckily for us it didn't last for more than kilometer or three. Loose gravel road takes us trough a forest at the foothills of Velez mountain. Few times I lost front end, to the point that I have no idea how I stayed upright. I could see bike tracks on the road, somebody was blasting trough here, drifting in every corner :thumb

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    Velez mountain, northern slope.


    We reach Nevesinje town on some minor paved road. Right at the entrance to town I got pulled over by police. The moment I saw them was same moment when I remembered that my lights are off (still not used to fact that I installed light switches so the lights don't turn on automatically). Luckily for me officer was friendly and kind enough to let me off with a warning.

    In Nevesinje we refueled the bikes and finally bought some food. We don't hang around for to long because there is another interesting off-road section nearby. 30 kilometers of Mongolian like landscape of Morine plateau. We use newly built picnic area to eat and take a nap.

    Less than a minute after our break was over and we continued riding it was time to stop once again as we reached another medieval cemetery. I just love this tempo of riding!

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    We climb down to Neretva canyon once again, to Ulog village and then up the other side toward Kalinovik. They are building a dam here so in few years this area will be flooded. Right now this part is so remote and out there. I hope that touristic potential of future lake will bring prosperity to people living here.

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    Short pavement ride to reach Kalinovik town, last opportunity to restock supplies. From there to our destination at lake Orlovacko at Zelengora mountain it's 25 kilometers of mainly good gravel. At first road leads trough evergreen forest with a narrow meadow on one side. It just looks right...

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    We reach the lake just before sunset. There are no other campers, it's windy and somewhat chilly. It was dark by the time we set up the camp and gathered firewood. As night fell so did the temperature. Sitting by the fire, even with all layers on, it was still unpleasant. We fooled around with cameras, shooting stars and playing with light painting and it was time to crawl into sleeping bags. There was even some light snow falling before we went to sleep...

    Short time lapse videos of camp setup and spectacular sunset:
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  7. Twinmike

    Twinmike Grandpa

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Austria
    :clap
    beautiful route as always

    in june I'm back on the road in Bosnia and Montenegro
  8. moto rrad

    moto rrad ADV n00b

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    damn man, I'm really loving the photography! Some really great shots on the cloudy/foggy day, then with the evening light. Excellent!

    thank you for the entertainment :)!
  9. motobella

    motobella Avventuressa

    Joined:
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    Ciao, Gliga.

    I'd like to make a small donation toward upgrading your photobucket account - there are so many beautiful pictures at the beginning of this thread that have disappeared due to bandwidth constraints. This is a tragedy! (Feel free to PM me if you like.)

    Thanks for more of your fantastic ride report - your candor is absolutely refreshing.
  10. ssevy

    ssevy Been here awhile

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    977
    Location:
    Southern Adirondacks
    Such a beautiful part of the world. All of the wars and suffering the region has seen seem impossible to imagine in such a beautiful place.
    Reading some of the older ride reports from Ukraine once it became independent bring the tragic thought of history continually repeating itself to mind.
    One of the things I enjoy most about the ride reports here is that the majority of humans encountered on these rides are just doing the best they can, like most of us, and the dirty world of power and politics which occupies the news that we all hear is as far removed from the average citizen in their own country as it is from us.
    Maybe if more politicians rode bikes the world would be a better place.
  11. luloadventure

    luloadventure - LULO -

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    .
    Great Route! :thumb

    Waiting...:lurk
  12. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Serbia

    I really appreciate the offer but there is no need for donations :thumb I started moving photos to another hosting site which has no bandwidth limits so we should have no more problems with disappearing photos...


    @Twinmike
    I'dd say that you're hooked to riding in Balkans :evil


    @Everyone
    Once again, a huge THANK YOU for your support. This thread surpassed even my wildest expectations, I could never imagine it would receive so much welcoming attention :raabia Another update is due later today...


    Somebody asked about my plans for this season. One trip is a must: southern Montenegro, Albania (really thorough exploration) and Macedonia (FYROM). That trip was planed for last season but for whatever reason it didn't happen. Delay, as usual, gave me time to find even more roads to ride and places to visit. Most of the routing is already done. I have no idea about starting date or how long the trip will last. Learning from previous trips I plan to be more relaxed with riding schedule and will probably include a rest day and at least few nights in hotels/motels/apartments...
  13. motobella

    motobella Avventuressa

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    That's great news, Gliga. Thanks for taking the time and energy to keep us all connected visually to your awesome thread! Looking forward to your trip through Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania in particular.
  14. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    As promised, here is another update :)

    Day three (Zelengora-Durmitor National Park)

    Before start of this ride my plan was to split from PJ sometime during today's ride. However, when he told me that his idea was to end this day at Durmitor I simply couldn't resist. It's less than hundred kilometers detour in one direction which is well worth it...

    Morning brought clear blue skies for the first time on this trip. It was still a bit on the cold side but it will warm up later on. Breakfast, short walk to nearby hill to take photos, packing up... It's routine by now...

    Another time lapse video, packing of the campsite.

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    Somebody already noticed, this lake should be called AFRICA. :D


    First few kilometers of today's ride are just beautiful. Road climbs to a small pass, above tree line and views are great. After that it descends into forest.

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    After around 25 km of gravel we reach Cemerno pass. We have less than one kilometer of pavement to reach start of our next off road section; climb to Lebrsnik mountain (the one you see in background in first picture below). Road climbing up to Lebrsnik has one short but very fun part. That particular road is not being used anymore so now it's in bad shape. It's steep, rutted and demands attention. After that it reconnects with the main road, coming from the south, and it takes just few minutes to reach the top.

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    This little guy hitched a ride for at least 10-15 minutes. He wasn't bothered by wind or bumps...

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    This shot is from that "technical" section I mentioned above. It's from my last year's visit.

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    North side of Lebrsnik mountain is in fact almost vertical rock face (the one you can see at pictures above). Views from the top are amazing. There is also communications tower at the top, right at the edge of a ridge. We got there while maintenance crew was doing their job. Guys were nervous as they had to wait for different crew to bring fuel for generators, they could do nothing without that and nobody bothered to check before dispatching them. Friendly guys, we started chatting up. I mentioned how spectacular views must be from up there. Next thing I hear is:

    -"Well, you can climb up if you want/dare. Just don't go higher than first level, there is a lot of equipement on higher platforms. And also be careful on ladders, nobody went up there after last winter's snow so we don't know if there is something broken."

    It was extremely difficult task to persuade PJ to climb. It took almost two seconds... After checking batteries in all cameras we were ready to go up. Now, that first platform didn't look high back from the ground. But once you got up there perspective changes. Fact that tower itself is located at the edge of few hundred meters high cliff helps. So does the fact that deck is made from grated steel. It takes some time to get used to all this but after that pleasure is guaranteed. Definite highlight of this day :clap

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    Feet over the edge series is still here :)

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    Views from the ground ain't bad either :)

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    That is herd of cows down there...


    Riding down toward lake Klinje is somewhat anticlimactic experience. Road is not interesting and scenery is not special (yes, at this point you are spoiled by views from the top). We stop at the dam to take photos. Instantly I can hear the guard shouting at us, telling us to leave. Water color is so surreal that it deserves to be immortalized in a photo or three. And, that simply must be done from the dam... By the time we took few photos guard (60 or so years old, possibly drunk) got close to us. He was confused by PJ's licence plate and wasn't sure which language to use (he only knew Bosnian anyway). Being good guys as we are it was time to leave the place.

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    To be continued...
  15. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos brb

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    Belgistan
    I miss the Balkans :) I'll be back some day!
  16. Gliga

    Gliga Been here awhile

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    Apr 21, 2010
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    Serbia
    Just try to finish your RR before doing that... :eyes
  17. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos brb

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    I spend all day every day behind a computer - when I get home, writing doesn't seem to appeal to me that much. I prefer getting my hands greasy in the garage or a pint of beer in the evenings. Others (like you) are much better writers and photographers anyway :evil
  18. laouen

    laouen Adventurer

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    Dec 29, 2009
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    Belgium
    It's an addictive region! We'll be back in June as well :clap
  19. travelR6

    travelR6 Been here awhile

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    May 2, 2013
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    Austria
    well thank you... you kinda ruined my plans traveling down to croatia with my r6. now i am looking for a cheap dualsport bike to do this trip because your pictures and the paths you ride along look so freaking amazing :thumb.

    ride safe and enjoy it :)
  20. Direktor

    Direktor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
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    590
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    Karlovac, Croatia
    Sused svaka &#269;ast, jebene fotke! :clap
    My neighbour, great pics!