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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Jan 12, 2019.
Great report, thanks.
I notice that I didn’t take a lot of ‘riding’ pictures, must be because the bike isn’t such a thrill to ride I was mainly focused on the sites and the trip itself.
It was time to head north again and leave the Peloponnesus behind. But I told myself to come back one day to spend more time in this area, I only skimmed the surface on this trip. Just like I only skimmed the surface of Albania, because I only briefly crossed it while on my way to Lake Ohrid in Macadonia. It was an interesting long day though. From Greece, through Albania and then into Macadonia. It was like going back in time 50 years. People working the fields with animals, goats roaming free, horse and carriage on the road. I only took this out of focus picture of this massively overloaded truck. It reminded me of Africa again.
My goal for the day was Lake Ohrid, I wanted to go for a little swim there. Coming from the south I followed the road along the lake into Macadonia and found a place to sleep on a campsite called Rino. Which turned out to be a super nice place. The price for one night was 5 euro, and came with a free coffee in the morning. I grabbed two beers to go with my book after I took a dive. Pitched next to me was an Italian guy called Alberto, he was on a Honda CB600 and was doing a tour of the Balkans. We had dinner together at the restaurant next door, which was also from the same owners as the campsite. Although I didn’t speak much Italian and he didn’t speak much Dutch or English we still had a good conversation. He runs a café in Treviso near Venice and can only close the shop for 9 days every year, so in those 9 days he tries to go as far in every direction as he can before he has to go home again. He also gave me some tips for my route north which he had already travelled. The food was also very good, as was the view from the table. There was also another couple on a bike at the campsite, but the only thing I heard from them was the girl being sick in the middle of the night.
Little sidenote, except for a broken lightbulb I didn’t have any problems with the bike on this trip yet. That was until I rode into Macadonia and noticed the right exhaust was sounding funny. When I had unpacked my stuff I had I look at bike to see what the problem was. Turns out the whole exhaust had sheared off from the downpipe. The crack ran all the way around, nothing to do about it but to get some copper wire to tie it to the footpeg bracket so it stops vibrating. Weird place for an exhaust to crack though, still don’t know why it happened.
When I poked my head out of the tent the next morning I was greeted by this view. The best thing was that when I settled the bill it was 14 euro. That was for the campsite, two coffees, four beers and the food at the restaurant.
From Lake Ohrid I followed the R1201 north to Debar, through Mavrovo National Park and the R1203 to the border with Kosovo. This route was recommended to me by Alberto and was truly perfect. Hardly any traffic, and lots of corners. I had to get insurance at the Kosovo border for 10 euro to be allowed entry. Kosovo was an interesting country, I’m not sure what to think of it. There were a lot of Albanian flags but the most noticeable was the immense amount of German, Austrian and Swiss plated cars. Not kidding every third car was from Germany. They surely can’t all be on holiday there.
Loving the RR!
In Kosovo I took the R106 to the border with Montenegro. The crossing was easy, only the customs officer on the Montenegro side was a bit of a jerk. He probably was just having a bad day. Didn’t bother me much though, as my mind was already thinking about the coast I was heading to. Last year I also rode in Montenegro and was amazed by the roads and the landscape. And this time it didn’t disappoint either.
From the border I followed the main road (the E65) to Podgorica. As a main road it sounds boring, but it is definitely not. If I’m right there are at the moment no highways in Montenegro. They are however (well the Chinese are) constructing one from Podgorica further inland but it will take a couple more years before it’s done.
I wanted to reach the coast on that same day, but soon realized that it would be stupid to even try as it was getting late in the afternoon and I was still somewhere in the middle of the country. And to top it off I was running low on fuel and there weren’t any fuel stops near. I was already on reserve and the next one was about 60 kilometers away. I slowed way down, gently going uphill and when I reached the top I pulled the clutch and coasted down. I used to eco-mod and hypermile my car back when I had one and always did the same. I don’t know if it helped or not but I reached the station with not much left in the tank. The place was right next to Hostel Izvor, where I was able to pitch my tent and get some food. The train runs through the same gorge as the road, only separated by the river in between. So every time a train went past the hostel it got extremely loud. And also I changed my headlight which I had managed to buy in Macedonia as I had only the high beam left since Poland.
Last year I gave the Bay of Kotor a miss because I was following the coastal road. This year I realized my mistake and decided that it deserved another try. So in the morning I set of to Kotor. Before I got underway I supplied at the supermarket, together with all the Chinese roadbuilders that were also resupplying for another week at the compounds they live in.
When I got to Cetinje I found one of the best roads of this trip. The road leading into National Park Lovćen was truly epic. It was still early so no traffic to speak of, the guardrail painted red and white if it were kerbstones, the road itself narrow, the turns tight and many hills that made me think I was on a heaving ship. Looking at in on Streetview it doesn’t seem that special but I had so much fun there, I was laughing in my helmet. Brake, shift down before the corner, hearing the engine rev high, little more braking, turn in, look at the exit, feel it fall in, scrape the footpeg, accelerate and shift up. Over and over again. And all at a low controlled speed, 20hp is enough for me to have fun.
When I reached the fork in the road to Kotor, the roadworks started. There were many placed where a car would not have been able to continue due to the work going on but I could sneak through between the machines and holes with ease. There was one moment I had to wait for half an hour for them to make a little path for me to continue. In Holland traffic would be diverted and never allowed onto a construction site, here they didn’t care much.
After I navigated through the roadworks I was spit out on the other side of the national park and finally laid eyes on the Bay of Kotor. What a view!
Awesome views! Why are the chinese building roads there?
I had 2 cb250 nighthawks and must say they are fantastic little bikes. Also a cbf 250, which is a thumper and has better suspension and brakes and a stronger engine.
Part of ‘Belt and Road’ I’d guess.
@Joris van O This is a great ride report.
Thanks guys! :)
I had the same question, why would they build such a road there and indeed it has an interesting story. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&sou...aw1zC6dsGofCOSrSZ-PA1Vuk&ust=1549242085510898
Like TheBritAbroad said its part of the Belt and Road initiative.
After I made my way down the mountain using the famous Kotor Serpentines above which the sky was turning darker I stopped for lunch in town. The big cruise ships in the bay had also dropped of their elderly passengers so It didn’t take me long to get back on the bike and onwards to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The route along the bay was brilliant and much better -and longer- than the alternative short ferry ride across.
At the border I met this Swiss guy who had ridden his Goldwing to Isfahan in Iran. He told me that he took part in a tour called Raid Orion Revival. Riding from Paris to Iran in 19 days. This sounded pretty awesome but later when I searched for it on the internet and found out the price (just shy of €7k) I made a mental note to just go without a tour one day. But still, on a Goldwing to Iran, thumbs up!
Initially Mostar and the famous Stari Most was the goal of the day and I was making good progress towards Mostar. About one hundred kilometer before Mostar the sky turned very dark, especially in the direction I was going. I pulled over to look at the weather forecast and if there maybe was a better route but eventually I chickened out choosing not to get drenched by rain but to head to the Croatian coast and take a dip in the sea instead. Not a bad alternative I must admit, and gives me a reason to come back one day. The route along the coast I knew is beautiful as I rode it twice last year, it is crowded though. This time the wind was quite strong which made it interesting. Later when I pitched my tent at Autocamp Sirena I used rocks to weigh it down as I was afraid the little pegs wouldn’t hold and see my tent be blown of the lowest terrace I was placed on and out into sea. Went for a swim later and sat with a Italian and a German family at dinner in the restaurant.
Last year I went to the Plitvice lakes in Croatia and only one week later when I got home did I read about the Željava Air Base which is right next to Plitvice. Since I learned about it one year ago I knew I wanted to go there. It is most famous for the abandoned plane at the entrance, but riding further onto the airfield it gets even better.
There are some very big and very dark tunnels dug into the mountain. Some of them are open to explore but as my flashlight was almost out of battery I didn’t dare to venture very far.
Not sure if there are still mines left but I definitely didn’t want to find out the hard way.
And then there is the runway, or multiple actually but they’re right on the border with B&H and I wasn’t sure if they would be polite enough the let me roam freely across it. Of course I had to line the bike up for a run. Clutch in, first gear, revs are up, in my mind I counted down, three, two, one, lights out and there I went. Screaming at the rev limiter, clicking through the gears. After a couple hundred meters I reached top speed of 125km/h, hahaha. Still had three quarters of the runway left. What a fun little bike.
The runway leads straight into the mountain.
Joris. Keep them coming.
i am debating to ride solo into Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia. The more I know about those countries makes it easier to decide.
Thanks! You should definately do the ride. I kinda rushed through but you can spend a week in each of them easy. A two week ride would be perfect to see the highlights though!
One of the people I met in Krakow and later in Budapest would told me that she was going to Lake Bled in Slovenia. I also had the idea of going there on my way back so we decided that if the dates would work out we would meet up. Being on a motorbike I am pretty flexible, I can take a slow day and only cover a couple of kilometers or push on a bit and ride a couple of hundred kilometers and be in a whole different environment at the end of the day. So from the abandoned airbase I rode on to the border with Slovenia, got myself a vignette and followed some nice roads to Bled. I was definitely leaving the southern dry climate behind and entered the Alpine region.
Bled is a very touristic town most famous for the little island in the middle of the lake.
I tried a couple of campsites but they were all full. Bugger. Alberto, the Italian guy I dined with in Macedonia had recommended a campsite at a different lake called Lake Bohinj. This lake, he told me, would be even better than Bled. It was 30 kilometers away and there were a couple more campsites on the route that I could try. They were all full. Thoughts of wild camping were already running through my head. And of course when I reached the campsite at Lake Bohinj it was also full. This campsite looked beautiful. Right in the forest, tents scattered around, more like a festival then a campsite and not full at all. There was only a low wooden fence separating the campsite terrain and the road. Hmmm.. could I, should I.. Yaaash, who cares just go for it. So I parked next to the road, where a lot of cars already stood. Unpacked my bike, stepped over the fence and found a nice spot to pitch my tent. Said hello to the neighbours and went for a walk to see what the campsite had to offer. Nice hot showers and a small restaurant, brilliant. To compensate for spending the night for free I ordered a beer and a salad at the restaurant after carefully examining the way you had to order. No place numbers, names or wristbands were asked, which was perfect! I was feeling like a little kid, being somewhere were you aren’t supposed to be waiting for someone to find you. Of course really no one cared one bit. I was looking forward to the salad, but I wouldn’t recommend it, or at least wash it down with a beer.
It got pretty cold at night, which was a nice change from the warm nights in the south. When I poked my head out of the tent it looked like it would be a warm day again. After getting some croissants from the restaurant I walked over to the lake side and chilled on the pebble beach for an hour or two. Going for a swim, dry out in the sun, swim again, dry out again. This lake was indeed even nicer than Lake Bled.
Around noon I went for a little ride to a nearby waterfall.
I also managed to get a parking ticket, maybe this was karma for me spending the night illegally. But a quick search on the good old internet told me that the ticket was practically only there to scare you into paying the fine at the local police station and that it would never be send to you. So no worries then.
Some funny weird things happened in the afternoon and I ended up riding from Lake Bled in the evening to my illegal campsite to quickly gather my stuff and ride back to Bled again to pitch my tent on another campsite which I also could just walk into. Two nights in a row, yay! The next morning I said goodbye to the new friends I had made and entered Triglav National Park.
Nice report I rode 16 eastern countries in 12 weeks this past spring. It is cold here in Canada right now minus 25 so reading your report is bringing me warm memories. Thanks
Big Kudos to you, young friend!!
What an awesome trip...and it shows (again) that it's NOT the bike that makes the difference, but the rider and a set of eyes coupled to an open mind and heart
to actually see the world around us.
I dearly hope that the "little 250" has got a lot more trips coming... long trips on small bikes have been some of the best times we ever had and right up there
in a pretty varied motorcycling life thus far.
Thanks for those pics, too....rattling loose some sweet memories.
Go the little bromfiets!
2-up on a little G310GS scrambling up Sveti Illya, Montenegrin/Croatian border ridge, just a few months ago.
Part of 4500km of Balkans Magic.
Thanks! I searched for a ride report of your trip but couldn't find one. Would like to see where you've been and how you experienced it.
-25F? That is bloody cold.. I was feeling bad riding in -5C (+25F) last week.
Do you perhaps know how the weather in May is in Canada? I'm flying into Halifax on the 8th. So hopefully it will be nice and sunny by then.
Hahah thank you, love the picture! How's did you like the 310? It did alright two-up on the dirt roads?
Would really like one of those one day, just enough power to go everywhere, light and economical and as it is a BMW I'm sure it is reliable. Have to wait for the second hand ones to get a bit cheaper though.
But for now I have the little Honda carrying me through the winter months. I actually feel a bit sorry for it riding on these salty roads as it makes it look like shit. But I'm also giving it some love with new parts to prepare it for the next adventure which will start in May. El Rojo as I have recently named it (I changed the color to red) will board a ship in April and hopefully will arrive a couple weeks later on Canada's eastern shore. More on that later, might do a trip planning thingy.
I'm to lazy to do a ride report but maybe in the future. May can be a nice month temps will be in the high teens. I head for the Dempster Highway on my 250 Super Sherpa the first week in June
Fantastic news...little CeeBee goes to Canada!
As for some thoughts on the 310GS...https://advrider.com/f/threads/bmw-g-310-gs.1257480/page-15#post-36098029
It certainly did very well, 2-up or solo, gravel and rough, broken Balkans-asphalt.
I'd wait for the 2.gen to have the teething-issues sorted though.
Awesome right report. All caught up!
There were many things to see in Triglav National Park so I looked at the map and picked a route which would lead me past some of these locations. From Bled I rode to the town of Tolmin to go for a hike in the Tolmin Gorge. A well maintained path follows the river upstream until it gets too narrow to go on. The cold and clear blue water combined with the green vegetation in the gorge makes it look very pretty.
While I was walking back dark clouds rolled in through the valley and it soon was bucketing down. I wasn’t looking forward to riding through the park in the rain so decided to wait it out. Luckily there was a small restaurant at the entrance of the gorge so I could combine the waiting with lunch. There was no one when it was dry but now it was filled with people so I shared a table with a grandma and grandpa from Austria who were on a daytrip with their grandsons.
After the rain had stopped it created this fog above the trees, it dissipated quickly though.
Following the 203 and then the 206 which leads right through the park and over the Vršič-pass. This road apparently was constructed by Russian prisoners of war during the first world war. There were lots of hikers at the top of the pass, understandably as it is such a nice area to walk through.
And sheep, there were also many sheep.
I just love riding through the mountains!
After exiting the park, the 206 ends near the border with Austria and Italy. Last year I rode through the Dolomites and was amazed so it was an easy choice which way to go. Into Italy and into the Dolomites!
Besides that the Dolomites are amazing, the real reason was that I wanted to walk around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, or better known as Drei Zinnen, or just those three big impressive rocks sticking out of the earth. I was staying on a campsite in Auronzo Di Cadore last year and spoke with a family who were walking the area for a few weeks. That got me interested and drew me back in this year.
The ride was perfect as I expected, these roads never disappoint. I was really looking forward to setting up my tent, and relaxing for a couple of hours after this long day. But upon arriving at the campsite I had in mind they told me it was full. No room for a small tent? No! Full. To make things better it started raining. No other campsite near, I crossed a mental (and financial) hurdle and decided to get a room in one of the many hotels. After the sixth which was also full, I walked out back into the rain and was beginning to get annoyed. There was one campsite half an hour away, but what would be the chance, riding there in the rain only to be told it is full. But as it was my last option before wild camping I might as well try it. And sure enough, they had space and I could pitch anywere I liked. It was very minimal, but it was all I needed. The night was cold though, I never camped at 2000 meters altitude.
It felt sooo good to finally see the sun come over the mountain in the morning, took the cold out of the air in minutes.
The road up to the Drei Zinnen is a toll road, a quite hefty toll of twenty euro per vehicle. There are also busses going up, or you can ask people if you can ride with them in their car. I pondered my options and decided to just accept the price as they use it to maintain the park and it would allow me to ride my own bike up there.
The road runs through the pine forest until they disappear when you get above the tree line.
The sky was so clear in the morning, it made for spectacular views.
The trail itself is not hard at all, thousands of people walk it every year. Especially this first part, which they use to supply the shelter further on, is just a gravel road.
The views were really beautiful, every direction I looked, blue sky, rugged rocky mountain tops, green pastures and colorful flowers.
Even the cows were pretty.
A little further on the trail I spotted these guys dangling on the rockface. I sometimes climb indoor and even that I find hard and I have no real desire to go any higher. So I have the utmost respect for people that dare and push themselves so far to be able to scale this wall.
The route I followed makes a circle around the three peaks and after a while I was half way, there I chose to deviate from the main path and follow one that looked more challenging. There were some hikers fully dressed up with fancy shoes, clothing and even helmets and that made me consider turning around. But a few minutes later I crossed paths with two Asian tourists on flipflops, I’ll be fine then.
Did I say it was beautiful?
Obligatory selfie halfway.
At one of the auberges on the route they had Lamas. I stopped to replenish myself with a bag of peanuts and watched these hilarious woolly beasts tramp around.
Around midday I arrived back at my bike and didn’t know where to go next. At this point I had been away for three weeks and still had one week left. I really wanted to ride through Switzerland, but when I checked the weather forecast it put me off. I find no joy in riding in the rain on a cold mountain pass. Better go south once more, and what better place to go than Lake Garda. The ride there wasn’t super special as I didn’t take any fancy byroads, it was already late in the day and I wanted to get there with some daylight left.
I woke up early (which is unusual for me) and went for a walk through the little town of Riva del Garda as that was where I had ended up last night (camping Bavaria). The town lies right at the northern tip of the lake and walking around in all quietness with only some vendors setting up stalls I again was amazed by the beauty that surrounded me. Italy truly has some amazing places. Making use of the 12 o’clock checkout time I headed into the industrial area to find some engine oil as it was again due for a change (gotta love the 3k interval). Changed it on the campsite and then watched the French neighbors as they were packing their car. Why on earth would anyone ever own such a monstrosity and if one happens to be as unfortunate to in fact own one why would you then take it on a holiday. I was convinced they were thinking the same about me and the little Honda though. Horses for courses.