A Tough OneOctober 22, 2016 in Albania
German Version: www.cyclingfornepal.com
First of all: Albania was a tough one.
A few kilometers behind the border between Montenegro and Albania lies the city of Shokdra. Already on the way there I felt like in another world. On the street, horses gallop and there are tons of garbage in the streets where street dogs looking for food. To my delight, however, I was no longer the only cyclist. In Albania the bicycle is a much used means of transport and transportation.
As a first stop I had a campsite in Shokdra.
I am often approached by other campers where the trip goes and get invited for a coffee or lunch. Also at this campsite, where I was invited by a German couple. I am very happy about the interest and the company.
Already in the days before I felt not fit at all. That's why I took a two-day break to get me out and plan my next route.
When I started my trip, I thought I just start without major route planning. But now, route planning has become an important component for me. Especially when the weather is bad or the legs do not have the power, the stage destination is often my last motivation to continue riding. In addition, I feel most comfortable in the mountains, which requires more planning regarding food storage and weather.
After two days of recovery I felt much better and started again. My route led to the village of Koman, which is surrounded by mountains at a lake, from where I took a ferry the next morning. On the way to Koman, a cyclist from England overtook me. Peter was on the road with a 16-person cycling group, which also had the ferry as their destination. We talked and rode the last piece together to Koman. For his middle 60 he was in a very good shape and hung me up in the climbs every time. To my defense, I must say the travel group was supported by a luggage transport :).
With a few beers we let the evening end and I was glad about the good company.
The next day we went early to the ferry, because this only leaves once a day. After a three-hour drive through a sensational landscape, our paths separated and I took the road to Kukes, the next major city in the east of Albania.
When I was on my own again, my mood was Not good at all. It just makes more fun to ride together. A short time later, I was also hunted by two shepherd dogs. From then on, the pepperspray was always handy on the handlebars, only for safety. Throughout Albania, several more "dog attacks" followed. They never bite after me, but always came dangerously close to me. It seemed to me that the four-legged animals had been looking for people on two wheels.
From Kukes I took a gravel road up a mountain to the Kosovan border. I had problems with navigation because there were ways that were not on the map. So I needed longer than expected and arrived at the border in the late afternoon. Then the shock followed. The border officer could not let me pass because he does not have a stamp for the passport and the border crossing is only for border residents. The frontier officer was really nice and called his manager. But nothing could be done, I had to turn back. It was already late and started to rain, so I pitched the tent a short time later.
The next morning it was raining heavily and it lasted for the next two days. I cycled to the south of Albania and thence to Ohrid Lake in Macedonia, with the hope of better weather. The rain and the cold were exhausting, but I was lucky and the sun was shining in Macedonia for two days. I really needed that.
In retrospect, I must say: Even if Albania was a hard one, the hardships were definitely worth it. Albania has a breathtaking landscape and people are extremely helpful and open minded.
Ps. The boy on the last picture I met in a small mountain village. The air must have been out of his tires for a long time. We pumped it up and he followed me a few meters. Unfortunately, the air was soon out again. He's probably driving better on rims than on pumped tires :).Read more