I woke up to a beautiful morning. It was to cold for a swim but perfect non the less.
As fresh as it gets. Breakfast time.
I don't want to leave this place. On the other hand I want to leave as soon as possible, eager to experience rest of the trip. I took my time with breakfast, making some tea and breaking the camp down. By the time I was packed and ready to go it was 11.
Road soon enters the forest. Nice and relaxing morning ride with many breaks. Scenery is just to good to pass quickly.
Time for some snacks.
After 25 km of gravel I get to one short section of pavement which will connect to another gravel road.
Next on agenda is climb to Lebrsnik
mountain from the northern side. I wasn't sure if this climb was possible. Only info I had came from few Panoramio photos, involving bicycles, which showed the road to be pretty damaged. First part is steep but easy to ride with good crushed stone surface. After I climbed above the tree line road conditions deteriorated.
Soon I rejoin with normal gravel road on southern slope. From there it's few kilometers of good gravel to the top. It's time for a lunch break and location is simply breath-taking. Patty and yesterdays bread never tasted so good. This was another of those very special moments, when everything seems just right, when life makes sense...
Zelengora, where I spent previous night, in the distance.
Unwillingly I move on. South slope of Lebrsnik is gentle. There are no attractive high mountains and that makes me feel like adventure has past its prime (I was wrong, of course). Road down was in worse shape than I expected with several tricky sections. Steep downhill and large loose rocks...
Once off the mountain I find myself at lake Gatacko jezero
. Artificial lake which is just stunningly beautiful. It's not hot enough to convince me to take a swim break. Instead I just ride around.
It's a short ride from there to border crossing. There is no traffic and I enjoyed wide pavement road. It turns out that this border crossing is only for locals, I would have to go to another one. It instantly ads 80 km to my route. What's worse for me is that I'll have to skip few off road sections. Needless to say, ride back was even more enjoyable because I knew there were no police radars around
Road to the border is fast and twisty, with little traffic. I'm the only one at the crossing. Bosnian officer approaches me with huge smile. He shakes my hand and stares at the bike. He didn't even look at my documents:
-Bikers don't need papers. I used to ride when I was younger...
Usual questions, where from, where to, how fast. Spark in his eye was hard to miss.
At Montenegro side I got another cold shower: road from border is under construction and will be closed for almost two hours. Positive thing about that is that now I have almost two hours to take a nap.
As the road opening time approached I started to prepare myself for a ride. By the time I was ready several cars got to the border line in front of me. Since police check takes five minutes per vehicle that meant I'll be loosing even more time.
Few kilometers after border I got to the construction zone. They are upgrading single lane, twisty tarmac road to a new, fast and wide one. I had a blast riding on hard packed gravel for some time. Rest of the ride to Niksic
was on nice main road, fast flowing corners and everything.
Lake Slansko jezero
Around 6:30 PM I arrived to Niksic. Time for a fuel stop and to restock on food. By that time I was nervous. It will be dark in less than two hours and I don't know how much more I have to ride 'till destination. Worse still, I don't know if my planned route is passable.
Soon after Niksic I'm on gravel again. In the beginning road is in very good condition. After every little village it gets worse and worse and soon it was covered with large-ish round rocks. I missed one turn and found myself in somebodies front yard. They were surprised to see me, offered me with coffee, cookies, juice. Hospitality of people in remote regions is well known around here. Since I had no time I just asked for directions and got on my way. Road lead trough something that looked like somebodies front yard. It's no wonder I missed it... Batteries in my GPS decided to call it a day which meant it was time for another break. Stopping down I almost tipped over.
Climbing up the hill views got better and better. Warm sunlight and long shadows, picture perfect world.
I was very happy when I got to pavement. Locals confirmed: 10 km of pavement and 5 km of gravel and I'm there. Paved road is just a single lane, twisty. It climbs up the mountain trough the forest. Then my jaw dropped... I got out of the forest just as road climbed to a pass. In front of me were high mountain tops bathing in setting sun. Just what I needed to get my spirits up
After pavement ended it was a short gravel ride to lake Kapetanovo jezero
. I had another near tip over. Steep uphill section, very loose surface and sharp turn, with people watching just to make it interesting :) I wave to them, from second gear shift to neutral and loose momentum. Somehow I managed to keep the rubber down.
Once at the lake I found nice camping spot, close to three Austrian campers. When I turned off the bike any signs of nervousness were gone instantly. While I was pitching the tent my new neighbors invited me for dinner. By the time I finished unpacking it was almost completely dark. And the dinner was ready
They weren't happy how the food turned out and I had just one thing to say: "It's infinitely better than cold canned tuna that I have":) And they had some very cold and very tasty beer, just to make it all even better.
After dinner we said our "goodnights". I spent some time just lying on a rock next to water, staring to the skies above. Life can't get much better than this