Monday, May 11, 2015

2015-05-10 Lyubimets - Plovdiv (BG) (Last day of the Balkan trip)

As I had made the most on the previous day, on this one gave me some comfort to my arrival to Plovdiv as my last train to Sofia would be at 7PM.
However using the road 8 (E80) is quite risky for cyclists as is quite narrow, lots of trucks coming from/to Turkey (actually there was like a 10km queue of trucks to enter Turkey from Bulgaria), with the main advantage is to have mostly trees beside the road which is good to give some shadow and wind protection.
The day started very sunny, lovely, then on my last 20km the wind got stronger, temperature decreased quite drastically and surprisingly did not rain that much! I consider that as a celebration of my last stage!


Danger!

 Storm coming (well, were mainly clouds and wind only, not much rain)
 And arrived to my final destination!
And for the last day: Lyubimets - Plovdiv (BG): 137.35km in 6h42m56s, average 20.45km/h, max speed 51.42km/h, trip total: 2066.19km, bike total 10282km.

2066km very well spent! Was countless the amount of people I salute, irrelevant of their job, beliefs, orientations, mood, living conditions and the best is that in most of them is that a salute back either on their local language or a simple Ciao!
And that my friends, is one of the reasons I like to do most of my vacations on pedal! There is no better feeling than be in the ground and admire the beauties around and on the case of this trip, to break many myths about people's behaviour! This applies to animals too! Slow down, if the dog keeps barking talk to them, if insist, then speak louder (even angry), that everything is sorted out and no animal will hurt you!
So, be kind to the world so the world will be kind to you!

And to finalize this topic, this time I compiled the graphic reports of this journey, and as I have invested on a heart monitor, it will be easy to see how the heart behaves when you start out of shape and when you are back to good old times! (If this image is not readable for you, go to http://i.imgur.com/3iu7aBz.jpg)

Cheers!

2015-05-09 Alexandroupoli (GR) - Lyubmets (BG)

This day was full of Sun, some wind blowing North-east which was quite a good help in the final stage as I had planned to cycle until Dikaia, Greece, but on the following day had to catch the train in Plovdiv, so I made the most as possible on this day.
The road itself is mostly a very wide road, intersections with exits on the right side only, had the chance to have Turkey nearby, but unfortunately had no time to get there and would be useless to buy the visa just for be there for some hours. So, it was a very nice, soft, smooth birthday trip!

Greece, river Evros/Meriç/Maritsa and Turkey on the right side


 Entering Bulgaria

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015-05-08 Kavala - Alexandroupoli (GR)

On this journey on which both cities are connected via the Greek national road 2, this one is not actually the shortest route to make, making some detours is actually the best option, starting for having much lesser traffic and on the other hand, there are some water pass which allowed to refresh the tires, as with too much heat and dry, it will decrease its life.
On the last 30km, reaching Alexandropouli had the challenge to pass a mountain, and once back to sea level, the wind was again opposite, still was able to run in my soft cruise cycling!

Leaving Kavala
 This is actually found right beside the motorway! Also saves a nice amount of kilometers
 40km left

And the stats: Kavala - Alexandroupoli (GR): 172.66km in 9h05m42s, average 18.98km/h, max speed 52.36km/h trip total: 1742.39km, bike total: 9958km

Thursday, May 7, 2015

2015-05-07 Thessaloniki - Kavala (GR)


 This day just had some little issue when leaving Thessaloniki which made me make some extra km and uphill, but other than that, once left the big city, was starting to be descending and mainly flat. The wind helped in most times, on some direction change, it was an obstacle, but still a route to be made at very big ease.




Too much heat and a storm approaching, lucky the rain came after I be in my accommodation!


And the logs: Thessaloniki - Kavala (GR): 184.20km in 8h20m14s, average 22.09km/h, max speed 47.04km/h trip total: 1569.73km, bike total: 9785km

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015-05-05 Skopje (MK) - Thessaloniki (GR)

As this trip would be the longest one and also with later arrival than the usual due to the clock change in Greece, I have started the journey quite earlier.
Leaving Skopje was quite fast and a good average, then had a mountain before reach Veles, then was mostly soft descending on the way and also very hot. The road was mainly an alternative to the motorway, on which of course, cyclists cannot use it. 
Also a fact that parts of the motorway was under construction, due to this fact the use of heavy vehicles has damaged the road converting into a non asphalt road! Happened on high spots near Veles and also Demir Kapija and Udovo, this helped me to slow down my good average, however on this road I have seen several people walking and most possible illegal immigrants (as from one group they asked me if I have seen anyone from the authorities), this also happened after crossing the border in Greece.
Once on Greek territory on which there was 70km left, 50 of them were a fight against the opposite wind, only when I have changed direction to the East I was able to ride at much faster speed!
And actually this late arrival allowed me to see an outstanding moonrise behind the mountains very close to Thessaloniki!

After Demir Kapija, 20km of dirt road



This little fellow (well, bigger than my hands combined) wanted to cross the street (unfortunately there were others who did not had the same luck), so, I gave some help.

It would be perfect if it wasn't.... the opposite wind.

And still 35km of riding in the darkness!

So, it was like this: Skopje (MK) - Thessaloniki (GR): 255.84km in 12h05m, average 21.14km/h, max speed 53.84km/h trip total: 1385.53km bike total 9601km

2015-05-04 Kukes (AL) - (Kosovo) - Skopje (MK)

As I was curious in visit Kosovo and actually planing a stay in Pristina, I have decided to pass by there and see how things were over there. I have seen some military forces mainly from Austria and Switzerland, several work in progress in populated areas, the roads were mainly normal, even when I made some shop for the trip a kid was surprised to see a cyclist around there! But all were friendly on which I was saluting everyone on the way with almost of them replied back!
As I had time limitation I have decided in going straight to Macedonia and actually unlike a fast and almost silent border crossing from Albania to Kosovo, crossing the border from Kosovo to Macedonia had a very interesting and friendly chat with the KFOR officer (with some German) when leaving the country!
About the trip itself, leaving Albania was quite fast and cycle in the motorway (the only road to leave the country), then going continuously up till around 50km, and from there just let the gravity help in most of the way and without any wind! An easy trip with also wonderful scenarios on the way down to Skopje, on which actually has a beautiful down town!


Right after the border Albania-Kosovo

Prizren, Kosovo



Usually in most part of Europe, this is a sign informing a big way up (read from left to right), apparently this is different in Kosovo
 And Skopje

And the starts, route and heart beat: Kukes (AL)- Kosovo- Skopje (MK): 160.94km in 8h02m01s, average 20.03km/h, max speed 57.72km/h trip total: 1129.69km bike total 9345km

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015-05-03 Puke - Kukes (AL)

Unlike the previous day, this one was with a very wonderful day! Also had a very interesting welcome and how i found accommodation in Puke! Moments before arrive to Puke, one man handed me over a flyer about his guest house and once I arrived to Puke I saw a couple asking for directions as my mapping had no street naming, then a lady owner of the restaurant heard the story and she said that I could stay there for 5 euro! Quite a bargain! As this is a family owned restaurant I gave some more on which had a very tasty dinner and breakfast all local made!
Basically the breakfast was almost the only food I had on this journey!

After made the first descending/ascending I saw those white mountains there were like 60km left to Kukes
 And few km later, this is the road I made, to notice here that only 5 motorbikes from Czech Republic passed by me in like 2 hours of travel!
 Few meters after, entering Kukes district started to be greener and the road in better shape, see the same white mountain, and now around 40km left!
 20km left..

Once this road meets the motorway there was a patrol police on which I asked if it was ok to cycle there! I mean, there is no other road to Kukes at all! We had a nice chat and actually he assisted me into entering the motorway, on which was descending all the time which made things easier!

But once a few km on the motorway, this is quite a danger, specially for faster vehicles than bicycles! I don't believe that is normal to happen, even in Albania! So in the end of this motorway and informed the patrol that these cows could cause something big while they were there.

And yes, that white mountain right near Kukes! Basically from direct line A to B, is like 20km, but by road, it can be more than 3 times the distance!


2015-05-02 Bar (ME) - Puke (AL)

As on the previous day I was not able to reach Shkoder at once, on this day leaving from Bar and be in Shkoder at lunch time, would be too short, so decided to move on on which the biggest population on my way would be Puke in Albania. Left Bar with rain almost non stop until the border, then just very dark cloudy until I started to climb the mountains! From there I had rain basically almost all the time, and still allowed to see how spectacular those Albanian mountains are! It was also a kind of poetic at same time I must say!

Still in Montenegro
 The real adventure of the day starts on those mountains!
 This is inspiring!
 And here was a group who made a pause on this bridge on which I also practised my Italian. The weather was cold, but still...


Friday, May 1, 2015

2015-05-01 Dubrovnik (HR) - Bar (ME)

Actually on this day I was planning to go straight to Albania, but the huge amount of steep ascending and short descending sessions, made this trip to last longer than expected and also the view were simply outstanding! The weather was simply perfect!





And many more on Facebook album.


And this was on todays playlist: Dead Cab For Cutie - Black Sun (actually I got some sunburn already! And people were bathing too!)

2015-04-30 Mostar (BA) - Dubrovnik (HR)