Night before departure looked like this
For start of the real trip I had to transfer myself from Novi Sad, Serbia where I live, to Travnik, Bosnia. 400km of paved roads, last 200 are even enjoyable as the road twist trough hilly region. Easy ride, just to get me into mood.
of actual riding was 80km long circle over Vlasic
mountain. This was first opportunity to test if my navigation method will work in reality. Short day with no luggage.
That zig-zag line you see on the hill is road I'll be taking
Climb to Vlasic is attractive. There is little traffic, hillside is very steep and the views are getting better and better with every turn.
Time to leave pavement... First brake is at Devecanske stene
, close to the mountain hut. Cliffs are situated at the top of very steep hillside, valley floor is some 1200m below. That's the place where I had my first (and only) climbing experience.
Next stop is at Paljenik
, peak of Vlasic
. Until the '90s this was military communication center with underground bunkers and everything. One of those "better don't get close" places.
Next stretch of the road is first unknown part to me. Line on satellite images and now line on small GPS screen... Start is beautiful, gentle hills covered with grass, nice dirt road. This is how I imagine Mongolian landscape :)
Road quickly deteriorates and soon it looks more like river bed than actual road. One thing I don't like about my bike is its low clearance. To low... I try riding on grass parallel to the road but it's not much better. Hidden rocks and ditches everywhere :) This doesn't look promising. First day and planned route is in much, much worse than anything I hoped for. Funny thing is that this looked like really good and used road on GE, in following days there are many that looked much worse than this. Oh, yeah, one more thing: I don't know if I'll be able to finish this circle or I'll have to ride the same way back.
Luckily for me this bad stretch proves to be rather short. Soon enough I'm back on normal road. Seeing passenger car brings smile to my face because that means the road is easily passable.
One more brake before heading back to the base.
I get on the bike, press starter button and nothing happens. Remember that low clearance I talked about? Well, side stand switch is lowest part of the bike, below skid plate. Few well placed rock hits did the trick. I immediately knew what was the problem so out came bikes tool set. Wires disconnected, others connected and we're back in action.
Ride back to the valley is nice, better than I expected.
Back in civilization I decide to take a shortcut. After few hundred meters pavement ends and I come across narrow wooden bridge. Go across or turn around? Straight forward, off course. I stop in middle of the bridge, nice photo opportunity. Strangely whole world moves from side to side. Moment later logic kicks in, it's not the world that is moving, bridge is so unstable... First gear and gaaaaaas
I get back home and five minutes later rain starts. Perfect timing
Few things were obvious from this test run:
-if road looks good on satellite image that doesn't mean it will be good road in reality.
-It takes much, much more time to cover ground than I thought. Planning stage: "pffff, that's short. It's just few centimeters on computer screen. I'll be there in no time at all." In reality: "damn... It's soooo looooong..." I'm talking about distances of few kilometers, not longer.