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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gliga, Jan 27, 2013.
I enjoy this adventure......Cool....
I was getting ready to post next update when it became clear that I exceeded Photobucket bandwidth... I'm not ready to pay for premium account so there is no other option than waiting... Sorry guys.
hey, no problem... I'm already glad you've gone through the trouble of writing it down so far...
I'll just wait for the next episode...
thank you for the RR again and the very helpful gpx files, my next trip in to the balkan region will start mid of may
Picasa is another option for Pic storage
Photobucket is back in action so it's time to move on with RR
Another early wake up. First meal after 24 hours feels really good.
I'm packing as slowly as possible, waiting for the morning sun to warm the air. Did I say that camp is located by the lake? Well, it is. After four nights of camping I was looking forward to finally taking a swim. It's about time to get rid of all the dust. On the other hand I want to get moving as soon as possible because this day is supposed to be very long and I don't know where I could camp that night. Compromise: go for the swim as soon as it stopped being cold outside :) Man, that swim was heavenly good...
In the morning camp looked more like some sort of open commune, with people spending better parts of summer here, away from urban life. It just felt natural to be there.
This sculpture was made by one of the guys "living" here. He was extremely proud of his work and insisted that I should go and check it out. That water you can see flowing is from the nearby spring and there is also a cup somewhere at the sculpture... It looks so wrong, pervert and great at the same time, I couldn't stop laughing...
When I wanted to pay for last nights beer and camping there was a simple response: The air here is free, you came as a guest... Again, kindness and openness of total strangers catches me by surprise.
I skip beers, vine and sljivovica (home made plum brandy, basicly national drink in Serbia and Bosnia) which are already being consumed. Everybody is talking about forecasted rain for that afternoon and following days. That gets me thinking... I still have at least five days to ride, all of it in areas completely unknown to me. Tires on my bike are road oriented and they don't go well together with off-road riding in wet conditions. Riding and camping in rain for few days really doesn't appeal to me, it would be a real shame to force anything. Decision time: ride as planned for half a day and then check the forecast. If it looks bad I'll slowly turn toward home, if it looks promising I'll finish the ride as planned.
First thing to visit on this day is scenic overlook at Uvac river canyon (the river is dammed so that's the reason for the lake-side camping). Road there is in good condition and I enjoy riding.
After several attempts I manage to find the overlook. Basically, if you don't know exact location there is very little chance to find it, you have to go trough fences and somebodies property... Uvac canyon is Nature Park, only habitat of griffon vulture in Serbia. When the park was established species was at the extinction point. Few decades, and much effort, later population is thriving. Nice, sunny day, meandering river below, flock of at least 30 huge birds in the air and no other humans around... It hardly gets better than this.
Short video from the overlook:
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Back to the bike, as I started rolling I came across large group of mountain climbers (when I say large we're talking about bus-full, 40-50 people) going toward overlook. I was just so glad that they didn't arrive 30 minutes earlier and that I had the place for myself.
Next stop is at peak of Golija mountain, Jankov Kamen some 50-60 km away. Plan is to get there using forest roads. Once again I have absolutely no idea if roads are passable or not. Beginning is promising, wide hard-packed dirt roads. First village, second village, road gets progressively worse. At one intersection still decent road goes straight forward, GPS says that I should turn left to road in not so good condition. Ruts from tractors, large holes. I'm lucky because it is bone dry. If it was wet mud would probably swallow me :)
This is dust cloud after few minutes of being stopped...
This whole area reminded me of foothills of a mountain (well, 530 m mountain can hardly be called mountain...) near my home town. Most of the ground is being cultivated and there are no notable peaks anywhere. GPS says we're more than 1300 m high...
Little later I come across a guy laying under the tree, looking after his cows. He confirms that this is the right road with my favorite words:
"Just go straight... Can't miss it."
Directions like this are usually good and true, at least until you reach first fork in the road. Road becomes bad, overgrown bushes, deep tire tracks embeded in now dry mud. GPS says that I should turn left but I can't even see the road there. Nothing to do but to press on. Voice inside my head:
-"At least it's dry."
64,21 m later and we're in muddy section. Water puddles are streaching across the road, no way around them. Luckily mud isn't sticky or to slippery so it's not a problem to ride trough. It's becoming obvious that I'm moving away from planned route but stubbornness doesn't allow me to turn around. Few minutes later I get to god dirt road and soon it takes me back to my planed route. No photos from that bad section, but to be honest it wasn't as bad as it may sound from my description.
This road is nice for riding. It winds trough shade of the forest, good for relaxing. Many intersections later I find myself on this great forest road, following the stream. I'm looking some nice place to take a swim but there is no "perfect" spot. And, as usual, when trying to find perfect spot you end up with nothing. Road turns back into the hills, away from the stream.
For some reason I'm not enjoying the ride anymore. It can be that I'm tired from days spent on the road (first longer trip). Another thing is that I find it difficult to be amazed by nature after riding trough Bosnia and Montenegro in first couple of days. Riding in terrain similar to that from back home (dirt road trough forest without great open viewvs) is not apealing right now...
Without GPS navigation here would be almost impossible. Directions that you can get from locals are usually along these lines:
"Just go straight" or
"Just follow the main road."
There are simply to many crossroads, same road sometimes looks like major forest road and then soon turns into something little better than a track.
Just look at all the roads in the photo above. It is not a single road winding its way up the hill...
And then, just as I had enough, dirt road turns into cobblestone and forest somehow looked better. I was really surprised to see another vehicle here but there it was, regular family car. Soon there was another car and then one more. Next scene catches me by surprise: just as I approach one parked car doors open and 2-3 girls, all dressed up with high heels and everything get out... Road is in bad shape if your'e in low sedan so the driver made them walk... High heels and walking in forest, got me thinking, trying to find any connection. No photos, sorry :)
I come across small waterfall by the road. This time I'm not missing opportunity to cool my head, it's blistering hot outside. To me there is something special anytime I'm able to drink water straight from the stream... It just feels good to be connected with nature like that... Of course, none of the cars stops and they look at me like I'm some sort of circus attraction.
Soon after the waterfall we're back on the main road, going across Golija. Pavement lasts almost two kilometers before road turns into excellent gravel. Traffic is heavy, there were at least six cars :) Road is not that good for them so they are moving slowly. Being on dual sport bike means that gravel is almost same as pavement which translates to me not moving slowly :) It's a quick ride toward Jankov Kamen peak. Time for lunch break, picking blueberries and generally enjoying myself. Half a day is gone, with less than one third of distance covered. And much of the remaining distance is off-road, again on the roads that I'm not even sure exist...
This is point where I have to make decision, going home or finishing the trip as planned. Few phone calls to the control room back home confirm that weather forecast doesn't look promising. Afternoon showers today and tomorrow and rain for the next few days. If I stick to the original plan that would mean that I'll be furthest away from home, in area that I wanted to visit for at least five years (Stara Planina mountain, in south-eastern Serbia, bordering with Bulgaria), just in time when regular rains are forecasted. Seems like waste of time to me, no way I could enjoy riding and camping in rain, no matter how much I wanted to go...
Also, by now, I was sick and tired from being nervous every afternoon when I realize that there is much ground to be covered and little time to do it (completely my fault, off course. Planned distances for every day proved to be to long for my style of riding, slowly and stopping oh-so-often to take photos. On the other hand, I had all the time in the world to do this ride, no pressure what so ever. I could ride half as much each day and take my time. But stubbornness is a bitch... Another thing is that planned camping locations for every day were just perfect and it would be shame to spend a night in the middle of the forest when you can spend it by very scenic lake.).
Other option is to turn toward home from there. Spend this night at some nice place on a mountain and then ride home tomorrow. Even if it rains tomorrow it wouldn't matter because I'll be sticking to pavement and sleep in my bad that night.
So that was it... Relieved on one side, and feeling bad about quiting, on the other, I choose second option. GPS becomes useless. It's time to get the paper map out and plan fun ride back home. New destination for today is lake Zaovinsko in Tara National Park. Idea is to get there combining tarmac roads with few off-road sections I ridden earlier that year with organized group. Off course, plans are there to be broken
Strong follow up.
And we remain captivated.
Surprised to see a charcoal oven still in business. Have you seen more of them?
Charcoal tenders used to have a very particular reputation in the old old old days. But it is a product with a multitude of uses.
Do I sound like a charcoal afficionado?
love the new update, can't wait for spring to finally start...
This oven didn't look like it was being used in a long time. I came across several more which also looked abandoned but I can tell you for sure that they are still being used in some areas in Serbia.
Next update is coming in few hours :)
Great photos Gliga, it really is beautiful out there and the people are real friendly too. Just don,t tell everyone, or the tracks will be full of adv riders :)))
So, from now it will be mostly pavement all the way to the home. First order of business is ride toward Ivanjica town.
Nice, wide and twisty road trough dense forest. Road is severely lacking in straights department, with turns just flowing one into another. This is first proper pavement section in last couple of days and I'm enjoying it. Time to blow some steam out of the system and get adrenalin pumping. Right hairpin, I'm going slowly, no input on brakes or the throttle. Front end decides it's time for me to get up-close and personal with surface so it skids sideways underneath me. By pure magic bike stays upright, with me in the saddle. Two things I'm sure about: my foot never came of the footrest and I had some mild pain in shin area for next couple of minutes. I turn around, wanting to know what caused wheel to slide. There are no oil marks, no gravel, nothing. Going back downhill I tried rear brake. Wheel is blocked instantly and bike almost kept same speed. Slippery as ice... Warning came at cheap price, I take it seriously :)
Little further on there is a large fair, right beside the road. OK, now that would explain all those cars and girls in high heels in middle of the forest... These are not kind of places I like to visit so I just cruise along, Note to self: drunk drivers alert, set to high.
Still cruising, regular left turn, no oil, no gravel. Front end goes sideways, rear follows. This time foot came to the rescue and once again bike stays upright. WTF...
Once off the mountain road goes trough some villages but it's still enjoyable for riding. Turn after turn after turn after... For some time it goes trough a canyon, following a river.
In Arilje town I turn off the main road, it's time to go to Zlatibor mountain. Locals confirm direction, one glance at a map confirms that destination is only few centimeters away For some reason I never bother looking at actual distances. Road is as close to perfect as possible. No traffic, no straights, good scenery all-around. Pure joy After some time little worm of suspicion slipped into my mind. Those few centimeters on the map sure translate into a lot of riding. By that time I wasn't eve sure I was following right road. This time I take a proper look at a map and it turns out that this road is much longer than planned.
Pavement ends in Visoka village. It's some 15 km of excellent gravel until it rejoins pavement on the other side. Locals drinking beers in front of a store ask me to join them for a drink. Unfortunately there is no time for that now. It's already clear that I'll be pitching my tent after the sunset. Another stupid tip-over doesn't help my nerves :)
Even thou wheels are facing uphill I easily manage to pick the bike up. Almost... Like it would be sinfull if I could just do it on first attempt Of course, that didn't help me feel any better.
I'm happy to be back on pavement. First intersection and I take a wrong turn. At next intersection that becomes clear but I decide to press on. I mean, who likes to backtrack 5 km on perfect new twisty road anyway? Road signs on next intersection make mo sense at all. Obviously there are more roads in reality than on my map.
I give in, it's time to ask locals about directions. They point me onto a nice narrow, one lane, paved road.
"Turn right at first intersection and then just follow the road."
Hm, sounds familiar... First intersection comes and I do turn right. Less than a kilometer and road ends after passing through a village. OK, back to main road. Next intersection proves to be right one and, believe it or not, I really just had to follow the main road after that.
It was close to sunset time by now and finally some common sense prevailed. I decided not to take off-road route, mostly because I wasn't sure where it starts and it's to late to wonder around.
Road from Zlatibor mountain toward Tara mountain is major one. Heavy traffic with loads of trucks make for unpleasant ride. That shock of traffic after few days of mostly seeing nobody on the road... Luckily for me, that section is rather short and fast and I was soon on nice, almost deserted road.
Road to lake Zaovinsko is awesome. Once again, lack of any sort of straights is very evident. Smell of pine forest... Perfect way to end a day. Oh, and next time I'll go slowly, to enjoy the scenery
As I'm approaching the lake all I want is to see anybody else camping there. Lake is located in National Park and there are no organized campsites so I had some concerns. Major relief after seeing few tents, right at the top of the dam. I don't think that would be possible in "developed" countries :)
Just as I finished pitching my tent there is a sound of approaching bike and sure enough they choose spot close to me. After introduction we realize that we know each other from local biking forum. Always cool to meet somebody in person... Gathering of driftwood from lake shore, camp fire and tea from freshly picked plants in great company. How can anybody ask for more???
Random thought about tea: when ever I'm drinking it back home it tastes mostly like shit without liberal amount of sugar. But when I take time and effort to pick up the plants (mint and Wild Thyme mostly), find wood for a fire and use available water it tastes heavenly, every time. And it's sugar-free
Great RR Gliga
The bad thing is that now I have a new place to go
It is a small world Maybe we'll meet
Was thinking the same, let me know when you go..... ;-) It ain't Siberia, but it's close (closer from where I live) and it's stunningly beautiful...
Gilga, thanks a lot for this report, it's awesome. I was recently in Serbia and Montenegro on business trips and while looking out of the plane said to myself: "This is 690 (or KLR, or XChallenge, or...) country, I have to go there on my bike sooner or later".
Would it be possible to get some GPS tracks from you ? I can trade some from Morocco, Italy and France... ;-)
Morocco Rally Raid 2012: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=794731
My current toys:
- KTM 990 SMT for tarmac ripping
- KTM 690 for dual sporting
- KTM 350 for offroad riding
- GasGas TXT 250 Trial for serious offroad riding
- Pair of hiking boots for everything else ;-)
when you start your ride to the balkan send a note you will come trough austria for a few free good beer
i will start my fifth time ride to the balkan countrys in may, maybe i meet some of you.
Two years ago I was riding from Split via Rijeka and northbound. Just outside Rijeka I had the same experience with slippery roads. I was coming out of a nice right turn when my bike just disappeared below me. No warning :huh I was doing about 70 at the time. I slid across the road and ended up in a ditch on the far side. The bike was OK, but I was hurting. No broken bones, but badly bruised. When I got back on my feet I checked the road. Usually there is sand, the road is wet or you see some discoloring. I saw nothing, but the road was slippery as ice in that turn. I even felt it with my boots :eek1
Later I read that the stones they use in the asphalt in that area contains lots of chalk. When the road gets warm the small stones lets of a thin layer of chalk which makes the road slippery as ice. Lessons learned.
Note to self: Drive slow and live longer
at the end of the daily report you can find the link for the gpx files like this
i have to sort my tracks from the Balkan countrys when you need pm me
I've never experienced it myself but it's not the first time I hear from slipperly asphalt in warm countries, I'll have to remember that next summer, or I'll undoubtedly have a get-off...
If you see a glare from the surface, be careful!
True words. I do it same way again and again
Nope, no way I'm telling anybody about this area. Not even trough a ride report
Thanks for the compliments.
Falling in right turn on busy road doesn't sound to appealing. You were lucky that there was no oncoming traffic.
That road winding along Adriatic coast is well known as extremely slippery. Salt from the air is not helping either...
If you're coming this way let me know, it would be great to meet you and hear some Sibirian stories first hand