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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MotoPet, Jul 2, 2021.
Wow - thank you for taking us on this beautiful and challenging ride. Great pictures and tales.
Thanks, glad you like it.
Now we are a team of three and the first business of the day is crossing the border into Macedonia.
It is no problem and soon we can look back to the lake and Pogradec. We left the lake towards east and then turned onto a gravel track up to a mountain top. It is rocky and quite steep but once reached the top the view is the best reward.
We have to go the same way down and then continue further east for a few kilometers before turning north.
Now the trail leads through a mountain range. The quality varies a lot but is mostly rocky.
Soon we can see the town of Ohrid from the top.
Ohrid is supposed to be only a fuel stop, but things are turning out to be different.
After refueling and paying I get to my bike just in time as the side stand gives way. I have no main stand so that’s a problem. We ask others on the gas station if they know a place where we can get this welded and we’re quickly pointed towards a shop. As we show up at the said location we see that the place is closed, probably since a long time.
Now what to do? On the GPS I see some auto parts store in town and I’m confident that they will know a welder. The stores are mostly along one street and for which reason ever I stop at the third of them. It turns out that the store owner is the president of the local motorbike club. He drives me with my side stand in hand to one of his inmates (Sasha) who is a professional welder. The stand is fixed quickly and soon I’m back at the bike. Meanwhile my friends got a coffee from the auto parts store and chit chat a bit.
Sasha insists to come as well and we install together the repaired part.
thanks for your reply! looking forward to the rest of the RR. breakdowns are both a pain in the $$ and a great way to meet some locals.
While we do that I realize that my oil leak from the reservoir is becoming bigger and having a professional welder on site I ask him if this can be fixed.
He thinks yes but says that we need to find a mechanic to disassemble the bike for that. I’m not a motorbike mechanic but can do that for sure myself. We agree to meet at his place after we find a camping spot.
Our question how much we owe for the coffee is only answered with the question ‘Are we a coffee house?’ and we are sent on our way. We find a campground on the outskirt of town and Sasha is not willing to let us go there alone. He leads the way, helps with the price negotiation and after we set up our tents, and the obligated drink, him and myself are riding to his place to get started on the repair.
I have to remove the fairings, tank, horn and the water cooler to give access for the welding. While working the son of Sasha comes home from work and is now helping with organizing whatever his father need.
And the final repair. Looks like new to me. I feel very much relieved.
So now the only thing what is left is to reassemble the bike. That’s done quickly and after getting the payment out of the way (which was not much), Sasha insist to invite us into town.
He wants to show us around a bit and have dinner together. We are not allowed to pay for dinner but at least we can pay the coffee afterwards.
He also invites us to go together for a ride on the next day. We accept the offer with thanks, having in our mind that this will not only be a great experience but also gives us a chance to pay back a little tomorrow. It just didn’t feel right that he invited us after he helped me so much.
Happy and exited we crawled into our tents.
The morning starts with a coffee and a pastry before we meet Sasha. He leads the way out of town and into the sticks. It is nice for a change to be on an unloaded bike and not need to navigate. We just follow him. After some nice fast gravel roads we reach our first lockout.
Then the trail goes up even higher until we reached the top which was just below 2000m above sea level.
Great offroad riding continued for the whole day.
We made a loop back to the lake, before we visited the Monastery of Saint Naum which was founded in 895A.D. Very interesting place and we had a prime parking spot thanks to Sasha who seemed to know everyone, he probably does. Normally you have to walk quite a bit from a parking lot situated outside of the area.
The day finished with a visit in a restaurant where we got typical local food and a fantastic sunset.
What a beautiful day!
dang...DANG MotoPet. you're getting a lot of local help and hospitality....thanks for sharing with us and showing it to the rest of the world there are good people out there.
you guys are making us envious.
We left in the morning Ohrid northbound on the E52. Naturally that was not exiting, but roughly 30km north the route turns into the mountains. The plan was to cross those towards the Lake of Debar. It was not difficult to ride the gravel road until there was more and more snow visible.
What!? These mountains are not higher than the one we have been on yesterday. As higher we get we become more concerned.
Waushi went in front to scout out if it will work. Soon we comes back with the bad news. No way we can go across here.
We check the GPS for an alternate and make a plan. Unfortunately that turns out to be not so easy. The roads where not much traveled and there are some hiccups along the way, but in the end we made it to the border with Albania just north of the lake.
As we have missed the Albanian TET section via the mine earlier in the trip, we want to do it now and hope the in those two weeks the snow has melted. So we hook up with the track in Shupenze. It is clear that we are not going to make it through this section so we stock up on food and drinks before we go into the mountains again.
The ride was good and long so we are looking out for a spot to camp as we approach the mine. The mine is not in operation when we visit it. Although we joke around, we are pretty beat and expect that there are more challenges will come before the summit. It is also getting cooler already. So we make the decision to camp a bit below the mine where we will have some protection from the cold wind.
Two of us are pitching their tent and Waushi is as usual setting up his minimalistic sleeping arrangement. That gives him time to start the fire and collect some wood to burn.
The spot is great and we enjoy an simple barbecue and a few drinks before we get a well-deserved rest.
Thanks for a brilliant tour report, one question, how did you do for fuel, was there much searching about for it, did you carry much as a reserve?. so thats more than one question :)
There is no shortage of gasstations. So we have not used any spare fuel devices. Our range is roughly 200km, in hard staff less.
But the ability to pay with a card is extremly limited. Even when the gasstation is advertising that they take Visa, most of the time the excuse 'machine is broken' is used.
Bring cash. Lokal exchange gives you the best rates. Cashmashines are everywhere, but the fees are very high.
Feel free to ask how many questions you want. Glad if I can help.
The night was cold but we get up refreshed and ready to tackle the remainder of the mountain. After a initial first climb passing the mine, it was a nice gravel road, at least for a short while.
Then we had to go up a valley where a river couldn’t make up its mind and used the road on an off as a riverbed.
There was a short easy looking stretch but it turned out to be just a mud pit. I promptly fall for it.
Together we are able to free my bike and continue on. We again and again thought that the next ridge will the summit, but it went on and on. There are some lakes which are looking really nice. Just the snow got our attention and we became concerned that maybe the snow hasn’t melted as hoped.
more good stuff....
i could do this awesome road all day but i bet around the corner it is entirely different and very challenging.
Yeah and one section I even didn't take a picture, aa very challenging downhill with baby heads in the woods.
Soon we hit the first patch of snow on the road. The first few of them where no problem, but it got worse, until there was no going further. I hiked quite a bit ahead to see if it would be worth to struggle on, but there was no way. I turned around defeated when I reached a section where the snow was for sure about 2m high on the road.
This was a bummer. Now what to do? Do we really need to go all the way back what we did the last 1,5days? After looking closely on the map we found a potential trail down the mountain. With not much confident that it will work out, we started to roll down. This road was obviously not used much but we managed to get to something what looked like a water pipeline construction site. The road was rough with big rocks and for the icing on the cake was the river flowing on it as well. I went first and bottomed out at about 2/3rd of the overflowed section and came to an abrupt hold. Nevertheless I made it across. This was enough to convince my travel partners to give the steep pipeline track a second look. That was basically a track running straight down the mountain, of course very steep.
So we split for the rest of the way to the village at the bottom. Thankfully we reunited after some time there. Meanwhile the clouds became dark and soon after it started to rain. Great.
In the rain we tried to find a shorter way to the town of Reshen but ended up taking the TET because all other roads have been dead end or became unpassable. Very often the road classification on our GPS didn’t match with the realty, this was a problem we noticed a lot and was also a big contributor here. As we left the mountains the weather cleared up and we made it safe to our chosen nightstop.
Great report, thank you very much!
I am just dreaming up a trip on the TET through the Balkans myself. How does communication with the locals work? I guess some English, some German, hands and feet?
thanks for that
English is widely spoken. Also German, because a lot of the locals are or have been working in Switzerland.
Only in remote areas, like where shepherds might be the only people you see, you need to use your hands talking skills.
greetings from New Zealand