Cool, I just managed to close my browser with half of the post done. What a way to motivate yourself
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, DAY SIX
Being at the bottom of the canyon I knew that I shouldn't rely on Sun to wake me up. First time I wake up I got out of the tent. Another perfect morning, warm and without a single cloud. And it was early, hour earlier than my usual "on road" wake up time, which was good considering that I knew nothing about planned route.
Road out of the canyon leads trough forest so it's difficult to get a nice view.
Just before road turns into pavement again there is another phenomenal viewpoint. Gentle, grass covered, slope with few pine trees right at the edge of canyon. Even though I just started riding there is no way I could miss the opportunity to chill out in place like this. Few minutes later two 4x4 arrived, packed with tourists. They were excited to be there. For me the perfect moment was gone... Relaxing in nature and large, loud, groups of people don't go together if you ask me.
Road toward Zabljak is, by now well known, fun single lane tarmac. I'm taking it easy, just trying to soak it all in. There were some forest fires in the area so the air is not clear as it should be.
It was quick and very fun ride down to Tara canyon. Perfect twisty road, almost no traffic, time to get the heart rate up
There is a bridge at the bottom of the canyon, and what a bridge! Djurdjevica Tara
, most attractive and highest bridge in area. There is something about the bridges that draws me to them, I just want to sit in the middle with my feet over the edge... It was no wonder why I was excited about this one. First time crossing, I stood on the pegs and rode as slow as possible. Then it was time to cross it by foot. River below is Tara, famous rafting place. Tara canyon is among deepest in the world. Few years ago there were plans to build a dam which would flood large parts of the canyon. As far as I know common sense prevailed and there will be no dam. Anyway, enough talking.
Feet over the edge. I could stay there for hours. Amazing place.
On the other side I tried to find off road route back to the top of the canyon. First attempt ended at somebody's gate. Second on somebody's meadow. Third attempt was ended by overgrown vegetation blocking the road. Oh well, there is nothing wrong with perfect twisty tarmac either.
Soon after I got out of the canyon it was time to leave pavement. Gravel road is perfect, smooth as silk. I got to some village, road is fenced on both sides. Suddenly there is a flock of sparrows flying in front of me. Instead of flying higher they decide to follow the road. We were "racing" each other for few corners before they broke away. That really made my day. It's little but special things like this that count...
Further into the forest I come across a shepherd. Just to start a conversation I ask about directions. He goes on giving very detailed instructions with village names and every intersection. I didn't remember any of it. "I have my magical green box to show me a way"
Actualy, there was one thing I remembered: "at the first intersection don't let the road take you to the left". Or to the right??? Or was that for the first or second crossroad??? You get the point and you now how it's going to end
He also tells me that these roads are used for organized 4x4 rides. And that this whole area is rich in coal or some minerals, mining companies are starting to survey the area. If that's the case I'm afraid it won't be long before this pristine nature gets destroyed "for greater good"
I move on and get to first intersection. "Don't let the road take you right..." Why bother listening to directions when I have a GPS. Well, little magical green box doesn't work very well at the bottom of the steep valley, in dense forest. I go left... From the start it is obvious that the road is in much worse condition. After few hundred meters there is a log across the road. I don't even try to cross it so it's back to previous road. Next intersection. "Don't let the road take you right..." Words ring in my head...
Road to the left looks normal. One on the right is overgrown with grass and there is a stream which I should cross. GPS points to the right, sort of. I decide to try the "main" road but it soon becomes obvious that I'm getting further away from my planned route. It turns out that this is actually one of my planned alternative "get me back to pavement" routes. Since I don't want to go on tarmac it's time for another U-turn. That leaves me with grass covered road and easy water crossing. It is used so much that somebody made improvised table and chairs from logs in the middle of the road. Ha, I remembered that part from shepherd's story. There is also a water spring there so it's time for a short break. It's baking hot by this time, even in forest, so refreshment is appreciated.
After another water crossing road becomes better again. Another intersection: "Don't let the road take you right". GPS is totally useless, it has no signal at all. Without any doubt I go to the right. Road is slippery and climbs steeply up the hill. After a short while I get to a clearing in forest ans GPS manages to receive signal and shouts to me: "The old men told you not to go right, why you had to go right???"
Well, ok, it's time for another backtrack. By that time this was becoming very amusing and I was almost laughing inside my helmet. Of-course, road to the left was the right one. Soon I was out of the forest, there were even few houses along the way. I joined with another, even better, gravel road and stopped to take some photos.
I move on but the bike feels strange. " No, I'm tripping again, it's the gravel". Two seconds later it is clear that I'm not tripping, rear end is dancing like crazy. Tire is punctured... This is the "Oh, shit..." moment. In the winter I changed my tires for the first time. I wanted to practice taking them on and off. Back then I managed to replace front tire without much difficulties. I even managed to replace rear tire, although I pinched the tube while putting it back on. There was no way I could break the bead on new tire. Back then it ended with short walk to tire repair shop.
If this had happened just five minutes earlier I would be surrounded by forest without any clue how far the civilization is. But from this point I could see houses in the distance, and the houses means cars, cars mean transport options. Untypically for me I didn't get angry or nervous. Even though I knew that there is no way to break the bead I just had to try. Off course, tire irons were at the bottom of the roll bag so I had to take everything out :) "Maybe it will be easier because tire is not new anymore..." No, still can't do it. " Maybe if I jump on it?" No go. "Lets try the side stand trick" Now, that was interesting... Balancing the bike on center stand while trying to position tire under side stand. But no luck. "Hmmmm, maybe if I scream and swear a lot?" No.Still nothing.
After few minutes this old granny approached me. She couldn't help with the tire but gave me some information. It turns out that there is a paved road only few kilometers from here, from there it would be possible to hitchhike to nearest town. Now, that sounded like a plan. Let's call it Plan C. Plan A was hopping that I'll somehow manage to take the tire off by myself. Plan B was waiting for a car to pass by and then using the car to break the bead. Why not? I watched Youtube clips, people did that. What could possibly go wrong???