After enjoying our little piece of the luxury life in Dubrovnik we climbed back into the mountains of Bosnia, eager to get away from all the tourists and traffic. This is a panoramic looking back into Croatia before entering Bosnia with an old single lane road made out of bricks on the left.
It was crossing into the Bosnian border that we met our first adventure riders in Bosnia. All through the north west we didn't see any tourists whatsoever - no campers, euro number plates and surprisingly no adventure riders and I loved that about it. Everyone was still surprised to see us and it felt great being a lone tourist in such a beautiful part of the world. On the road between Mostar and Dubrovnik there were loads of campers (mostly German) so it was surprising to see a couple of Triumph explorers pull up behind us at the border. They mentioned they had seen lots of Triumphs on the road but until this point I'd seen none, mostly only 1200GS's along the Adriatic Road.
The locals mostly get about in these little beasts. I expected to see a lot of horse and cart but I didn't see any in the areas we visited.
But plenty of animals wandering the road
We crossed into Montenegro near Bileca which seemed to be mostly locals and trucks and as we entered the border guard gave us a leaflet that showed border crossings and major cities. I had a quick glance at it and noticed it didn't have the border crossing between Montenegro and Albania west of Plav were hoping to cross so I asked the guy and he said there was none.
ok well that changes things because it meant I couldn't ride the offroad route I'd planned without doing some back tracking to cross further south of our intended crossing.
We ploughed on and as I scanned side tracks looking for a taste of offroad we were reminded of the Yugloslav war, which one of the locals in Bosnia said didn't affect Montenegro but we still found many abandoned buildings but not on the same scale as Bosnia.
We stopped for a quick photo of this lake after being showered with hail and over to the right I could just make out some towers and what looked like a gravel road. With a little whine from Patty "do we have tooo" it was time to explore
Found it! A partially overgrown but still recognisable road that snaked around the lake. The vines hanging out from the edge were thorns and almost ripped Patty's leg off at one point and it looked as though people were using for mountain biking so we took it pretty steady. Some kids standing in their front lawn looked shocked to see a motorbike and not a mountain bike come bursting through the bushes
Found the tower
The track opened up onto a bright green valley
With our appetite for offroad satisfied for now we gassed it to Albania through some pretty rocky terrain. In the distance Albania is calling.
We entered Albania at Bajze on Skadar Lake late in the afternoon and I felt like a kid at christmas with all these mountains so I kept stopping every 5 minutes for a photo. I couldn't get enough of the mountains!
We quickly found a camp site on Lake Shkodra with a resort view.
Our modest abode amongst the unimog - the yellow one has everything, including a washing machine
such a poser
Life is good
The next day we had the option of doing a gravel road that ran parallel to the Albania - Montenegro border that we missed out on because the border closing west of Plav supposedly didn't exist, or skip it and do another road we planned which went from Koplik to Shkodra via Theth in the north east - we chose the latter.
As we rode out ready to do battle the bike felt wobbly and I knew immediately that was a puncture, and a bad one because it was an immediate flat. Luckily it happened just outside camp so I nursed it back home and made a brew while I changed it.
That will do it
The Motionpro beadpro made light work of the bead - these things are the bollocks and copped the abuse I threw at it. The Heidenau K60 scout has a really stiff wall and these things didn't break when I thought they would. I later picked up a third, longer tyre lever to make the job easier.
On the road again. I always wanted to get one of these shots
There's a track in there somewhere
The unimogs had tried this track the day before but because they're a behemoth they couldn't get through but said the bike might get through because it's slimmer. We'll give it a shot why not. We passed some road works at the foot of the hill. It was a little narrow and muddy but nothing to worry about and thought what are the unimogs complaining about, pussies.
As we climbed we came across more and more road works but these ones hadn't been levelled so there were great big loose rocks all over the place. It was impossible to pick a line as the rocks bounced us from one side of the track to the other. We were careful not to get to close to the edge because it was just too unpredictable and could accidentally send us over. Luckily we left the luggage at camp because we would have really been struggling on this one.
We found the first smooth bit we could and stopped so Patty could climb back on
It was first gear stuff for about 2k's of these rocks and loose soil and the triumph took it all in her stride. When we stopped though a gurgling noise was coming from the radiator as though it was overheating (mental note get that checked out).
We zig zagged our way up the mountain and admired the scenery
Ok things are starting to get interesting. Blocks of ice and snow in our path
Now it gets really interesting. Only snow lies ahead
We knew the unimogs had gone a little further than this - they had our respect. We consulted the maps and figured we were about 250 metres from the top on a slight uphill on the highest peak of the road with one more peak to go. We figured if we could do this we could check the down hill slope on the other side and decide then if we could get back up or not. That was our main worry - getting down a slope and not being able to get back up but figured we would assess it before going down it...derrrr. We decided to give it a try...one metre further we were up to the axle in snow.
dammit, that means we have to go down that really rocky section. That's worse than coming up it! We nursed it back down the mountain and joined the road works crew for lunch. One of the guys could speak fluent english and mentioned there was 1.50 metres of snow still at the top. We had a motorbike not a snowmobile I don't know what the people driving the unimog thought the bike was capable of
This season I would say they'll seal the road, shame cos it makes a good adventure.
We rode back to camp to hang out with some german uni students who had been hitchhiking for the past 9 months on a 200 euro per month budget and knew all the tricks for living on a budget in style.
A clip of the climb
to be continued...