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Old 02-25-2014, 03:36 PM   #256
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Let's bump this up!

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Old 02-25-2014, 10:19 PM   #257
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:01 PM   #258
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More you say??? Well, alright then

Two new trips from 2013. riding season. More or less same routes as already seen in this thread with some amazing additions. And one big difference: not riding alone this time. Rather than starting new thread I'll continue with this one.


PART ONE:
Last winter several people contacted me here on ADV Rider with plans of riding trough Balkans and doing some parts of the route together. Honestly, I never expected to see those people. Who'd come and ride here anyway...

So you can imagine my surprise when, few months later, my phone rang one night. LethPhaos (AKA PJ) from Belgium was in Croatia, on his six weeks trip trough Balkans. His plan was to ride trough Bosnia for couple of days and then move to Montenegro. Since I was itching for a ride it wasn't to difficult to persuade me to join him Few messages were sent back and forth and we agreed to meet in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in couple of days time.


Day 0, Riding down to Sarajevo.
Since I live in Novi Sad, Serbia, I first had to ride to Sarajevo. Normally it is a 300 km pavement ride, second half being on great twisty mountain roads trough Bosnia. I know that route well and was eager to change it at least a little bit. That means I "replaced" last 80 kilometers of pavement with 60-70 kilometers of completely unknown forest roads. Route planning was done in Google Earth so I had no actual info about road conditions.

Along the way I visited a friend in Han Pjesak and from there to Sarajevo I would ride off road. Now, to start making things interesting... It was around 6PM by the time I got back on the road. 60 km of unknown off road with only three hours of daylight. Oh, and I like to stop very often to take photos... What could possibly go wrong?

Scenery is nice, roads in good shape and I'm making good progress. There are several sections where road goes trough areas demolished during the war in the '90s. All homes are destroyed, meadows are overgrown with grass as there's nobody to look after. Oh yeah, fact that everything is heavily mined is surely not helping...










I'm on a narrow forest road, there is a broken truck, overloaded with logs sitting there. Driver, his wife and their baby... No mobile phone reception here so they can't call for help. Nearest village is some 6-7 kilometers away, they explain me where to find their relatives who would be able to help. "Just tell them to bring chainsaw..." Luckily there was enough room for me to pass the truck. I've done my good deed for today, loosing some half hour of daylight before I was able to find right house.




Soon after, my track log takes me into someones front yard. I can see the road going further but it's clear that it is in very bad shape and that I won't be able to pass. Owner advises me on another route and says that I should have no problems what so ever. Since I actually had alternative route I paid little attention to his words. Mistake No. 1...

This might be a good time to tell you about my navigation equipement. It's old, old handheld Garmin Geko 201 GPS. It supports no maps, no automatic routing or anything. All it can do is give me coordinates (useless for me since I don't have any proper maps) and show me a line on the screen, representing tracklog I made back home. So, basically I have no idea where I am and how far 'till I reach "other side".

It's sunset...

Soon I leave the main road (gravel). Right from the start it's obvious that this "new" road is not being used at all. It is however on my planned route so I decide to press on. Have I took a better look at my GPS at that point I could also see that there was another planned alternative, just a few hundred meters further down the main road. But, in that case this post would end quickly and it would be boring...

So, road is overgrown in tall grass, streams are running at the surface, using the road as riverbed. Going is slow but easy. At least there are no hidden obstacles in that grass... After few minutes I reach a landslide, most of the road is gone but there is a path going over. "Ah, that's why they don't use it. Surely it gets better from now on..." Yeah, right...




It's quite dark among the trees and headlights are already doing their job. As soon as I get past the landslide road gets worse. Grass gets taller and there is more standing water, also some mud. By now I can't see road surface at all.




Short hill, road is now damaged by ruts but at least grass isn't that tall. I reach a cross road, place where my original route (one that ended in that front yard) joins with this alternative. There is an abandoned hut there, one normal forest road leading in unknown direction with some vehicle tracks and a track that I have to take.

It's bad from the start... Surface is loose and rutted, it's uphill. There are no signs of any traffic. I can already guess how this is going to end but I'm stubborn and quitting is not an option at this point. And sure enough, after few minutes I come across huge pile of rubble, dumped right across the road. It would be possible to go around but it's dark and I can't see what lies behind and I don't have intention to find out. There is surely a good reason to put that road block there. A bit of logical thinking at that point might be a good idea but it escaped my mind back then (for the last 30 or so minutes I was riding on closed of road, that block was actually on the BEGINNING...).

So, to put it simply: at that time I was less than 100 meters away from proper, normal and well used forest road which would take me to civilization in 5 or so kilometers... I found that out once I got home, after the trip was over. If I knew that back than remainder of this post would be short and boring...




Now, I have two options. Backtrack all the way to that last village and ask for directions from there (maybe a 30 minutes of riding trough well known tall grass and water) or to go and explore that unknown road with tracks on it. Fu@$#% it, I don't like backtracking. Besides, the truck that made those tracks had to come from somewhere. I should have no trouble following tracks back to civilization, even if there are some crossroads... Silly me...

I have some idea where this road should go (actually I know where I want it to go ) and everything is still fun. Road is in good condition, riding is easy and relaxing.




Fork in the road. Main road continues straight on. Other, minor, road goes left. That's general direction where I need to go in order to rejoin with my original route and I still hope that will happen eventually. Gravel road climbs up gradually, it is narrowed by the vegetation on both sides. By this time it's pitch black. Shadows produced by headlights are already playing with my mind... Gravel stops after some 10 minutes of riding. Road enters small clearing in the forest and disappears. It's a place where logging trucks are (actually were, once) loaded. There is some track going further into forest but it's steep and rutted. I'm on a heavy bike (Kawasaki KLE 500) and have no intention to hurt my self here.




Going back toward the main road my windshield mount breaks. It was cracked for some time now so it was just matter of time before it breaks completely... Now, those few moments between hearing something breaking under front wheel and realizing what it is were unpleasant to say it mildly... Fu%#$%! It was a great windscreen... At that point this game stopped being fun...

I don't have sleeping bag with me so idea of spending the night there is not appealing. Good thing is that there is plenty of fuel in the tank so I can ride for hours if need be. One less thing to worry about. By that time I was so happy with my decision to upgrade stock headlights to two bi-xenon projectors. At least I can see where I'm riding.




There are couple intersections where it's easy to decide where to go. And then shit hits the fan... Few kilometers down the main/only road forks again. Trouble is I can't decide which one to take, both look equally used. I go left but after few minutes decide it's not a good choice. So, back to intersection and I go right. Road soon becomes muddy and after few minutes I'm greeted by logs lying across the road, completely blocking it... So, yeah. It looks like i'll have to start liking that "left" road.




No photos from now on, for no reason whatsoever I didn't feel like stopping and shooting anymore BTW camera I'm using is Canon 450d (xSI) with several lenses. It sits in its bag on back seat so every photo means stopping for at least a minute or so, taking of the gloves, taking the camera out, shooting and that packing everything back up...

Next few forks in the road I don't even stop to think about proper route. Just choose randomly and ride. At one point I realized that I made a full 180 turn from my "original" direction so that I was now riding back toward that last village. At the same time I was so pissed of with myself for not noticing that happening but then again, idea of reaching civilization sounded good by that time.

Then road exits the forest. I was ready to backtrack to the last fork as road itself looked pretty minor. But then there was light!!! A house right by the road! The lights were on and somebody even opened the door when I knocked When I said to owner how I got there he didn't think it was possible. He tells me that there is a pavement only a kilometer (and few intersections) away, going to that last village I was at. I'm as happy as ever. It's been some two hours since I left that village...

I take a look at my phone (stays turned off in pocket while I ride) and there are several messages from PJ. "I'll be in Sarajevo in few hours." "I'm in Sarajevo and waiting instructions how to find your place." "I'm in Sarajevo, in a campsite..." Ups... My bike takes the opportunity to tip over from side stand and hand guard breaks...

By the time I finished talking with home owner his guests were ready to leave. Now I had escort to the pavement I get detailed instructions on how to reach main road and it suddenly doesn't sound like fun. I hear words like "gravel", "intersections without road signs, in forest", "30-40 kilometers before you reach main road..." Shit...

In reality it wasn't bad at all. Road is well used and there is no dilemma which one to take when it forks so it's just matter of time before I'm "free".

By the time I reached main road I was completely beaten. Only then I allowed myself to take a break, eat powerbar and relax for few minutes. All that is left now is a 40 minute ride 'till I reach my destination...
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:13 AM   #259
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Day 0.5 (riding around Sarajevo)

Met up with PJ sometimes in the morning. This day I had to deal with some bureaucracy in downtown Sarajevo. By the time I finished it was already to late for proper ride. So, instead we rode to a nearby Jahorina ski resort. Gravel leading up from the ski resort up to the ridge is nice to ride and takes us to few peaks. After only few hundred meters of gravel it became obvious that riding pace will be much slower than I anticipated. PJ's Africa is heavily loaded with luggage racks which are stressed close to breaking point.




If you find yourself in this area be aware of DANGER, MINES signs. This area is heavily mined so your safest option is to stay ON ROAD. There is a destroyed military base on one of those peaks. Three words were enough to decide that thorough exploration of underground tunnels is necessary.














After we finished exploration of the base it was time to head back toward Sarajevo. On the way back we visited Trebevic mountain. There is an old, now destroyed, restaurant which served as turning point for cable car running from the city below. Restaurant has a terrace with a great view. For a while we debated if it was safe to ride our bikes onto the terrace as it looked pretty dodgy. In the end we decided that it would be worth it, as long as camera keeps on filming








Nearby there is another cool place, starting point of bob-sleigh track (which is demolished, just like most things here...). Well, this also deserves time for exploration... Walking down the track I could only think about riding it with a MTB. Some time later I found out that track actually runs all the way down (there are no destroyed spots in concrete) and that people have ridden down...




Afterwards it was time to slowly head back home. In the evening we had great barbecue with my niece and her friends. Tomorrow real trip begins.
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:52 PM   #260
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I like your determination .. heading off into the forest as the sun sets!

As always, excellent photos and an ineresting story. Riding season '14 is soon upon us, any riding plans you care to share with us?

cheers,
stu
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:38 AM   #261
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gliga View Post
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I notice Bacon's onboard. Is he or has he updated the Bacon's Journey thread?
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:53 AM   #262
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Yes he has :)
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:12 AM   #263
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Amazing thread ! Just keep on updating
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Old 03-11-2014, 01:56 PM   #264
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Thanks for the support, you're all simply great

Update coming soon, very soon.
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Old 03-11-2014, 02:10 PM   #265
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Day one (Sarajevo-Visocica mountain)

Another late start today, my fault again. This time we have added bonus of ever increasing rainfall. It didn't look like it plans to ease off anytime soon so there was no point in waiting.

Right from the beginning we're riding on gravel road up the Igman mountain. This particular road used to be Sarajevo's only life line during the war. All food and medications had to pass here... As soon as we started climbing we found ourselves in a cloud. Dense fog, heavy rain, misting visor, soaked gloves. You know the drill. When weather is nice you can get some cool views from this road. All we could see now was a whiteout...

At some point we got above that low layer of clouds. Rain eased off and it looked like it would clear up later during the day. We reached Bjelasnica ski resort where we planned to climb to the top following the track which goes up the ski slopes. When we got to start of the really steep part we decided not to do it. Fully loaded Africa with street oriented tires was far from optimal solutions for a steep, wet and loose climb.




We climb some more as weather is constantly changing. Road climbing to the top of Bjelasnica has some 17 switchback turns and has been renovated earlier this year. We're in a cloud once more, it's windy and it's chilly. When we stop I take opportunity to warm up the gloves using engine heat. We also visited another destroyed military base nearby.












Riding down from the top we're once again in extremely changing weather. In one hairpin we'd ride trough a cloud and then be in sunshine in next one. This repeated all the way down... My bike took the opportunity to tip over from side stand as I intelligently left gearbox in neutral on downhill.






Next we ride toward Lukomir medieval village.






Lukomir village is located at the edge of Rakitnica river canyon, one of deepest canyons in Europe. It's difficult to imagine more attractive position...












We had to do some backtracking in order to rejoin with main road in Umoljani village. There is one shortcut here, only technical section for today. Road is not being used anymore so it is in rough shape. It's fun riding thou.




Before we started riding I had some loose plan that we'll cover around 300 kilometers today. Late start, rain, slow riding pace and numerous photo stops meant that by this point we only covered some 70 km, with sunset approaching. Not a big deal as both of us had plenty of time and this area is ideal for camping. Just before we reached pavement PJ's rear tire picked up a nail. By the time we reached flatter ground his bead was broken so at least he didn't struggle with that. An hour later we were ready to roll. Not bad for first roadside tire change








We have some 10-15 kilometers of nice and narrow winding pavement and then just a little gravel to reach our camping spot for today. Nice meadow along the road, with mandatory small stream in between.
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Old 03-12-2014, 03:23 PM   #266
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Day two (Visocica-Zelengora)

Morning is cloudy but there's no rain and it looks like it's going to clear up later on. Yesterdays judgement error meant that we now don't have any proper food and it will be a long time before we reach town where it is possible to buy some.

As we were in middle of packing up (you know that phase where stuff is lying everywhere) we found ourselves in a path of cow herd. It was interesting trying to make them go around our stuff instead stamping over it. Talking with older lady, herding the cows, once again reminds me how welcoming people living away from urban centers are. Sadly, I'm also reminded of horrors which they lived trough during the war, as she lost one of her sons... She was worried if we were cold last night and told me that we could knock on anybodies door in a village and they would be more than happy to house and feed us...
-Life is tough here. We must look one after another and help each other...








Right at the start of today's ride we had to choose between two roads. Shorter and attractive one which I knew from previous visit or longer and unknown... Both of them would meet up later on. We decided that it was time for exploration and took longer route. To put it simply: not the best decision. First part winds trough a dense forest and there's nothing else to see. After Donja Ljuta village road turns into a little used double track and again, there is nothing worth mentioning. Oh well, I now know which one to take next time :)





One of rare opportunities to actually see something. Treskavica mountain.


In Argud village we reconnect with pavement road which soon takes us down into Neretva canyon. Thirty kilometers of twisties later we reach lake Boracko where it's time to leave pavement once again. At first road leads over a steep slope, right above the lake, and trough a forest. As we reach the pass surroundings change immediately. Steep slope is replaced with plateau, and forest turns into grass. Medieval graveyard is nearby.










There was one pavement section somewhere around here, luckily for us it didn't last for more than kilometer or three. Loose gravel road takes us trough a forest at the foothills of Velez mountain. Few times I lost front end, to the point that I have no idea how I stayed upright. I could see bike tracks on the road, somebody was blasting trough here, drifting in every corner






Velez mountain, northern slope.


We reach Nevesinje town on some minor paved road. Right at the entrance to town I got pulled over by police. The moment I saw them was same moment when I remembered that my lights are off (still not used to fact that I installed light switches so the lights don't turn on automatically). Luckily for me officer was friendly and kind enough to let me off with a warning.

In Nevesinje we refueled the bikes and finally bought some food. We don't hang around for to long because there is another interesting off-road section nearby. 30 kilometers of Mongolian like landscape of Morine plateau. We use newly built picnic area to eat and take a nap.

Less than a minute after our break was over and we continued riding it was time to stop once again as we reached another medieval cemetery. I just love this tempo of riding!


















We climb down to Neretva canyon once again, to Ulog village and then up the other side toward Kalinovik. They are building a dam here so in few years this area will be flooded. Right now this part is so remote and out there. I hope that touristic potential of future lake will bring prosperity to people living here.




Short pavement ride to reach Kalinovik town, last opportunity to restock supplies. From there to our destination at lake Orlovacko at Zelengora mountain it's 25 kilometers of mainly good gravel. At first road leads trough evergreen forest with a narrow meadow on one side. It just looks right...




We reach the lake just before sunset. There are no other campers, it's windy and somewhat chilly. It was dark by the time we set up the camp and gathered firewood. As night fell so did the temperature. Sitting by the fire, even with all layers on, it was still unpleasant. We fooled around with cameras, shooting stars and playing with light painting and it was time to crawl into sleeping bags. There was even some light snow falling before we went to sleep...

Short time lapse videos of camp setup and spectacular sunset:








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Old 03-12-2014, 04:21 PM   #267
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beautiful route as always

in june I'm back on the road in Bosnia and Montenegro
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:55 PM   #268
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damn man, I'm really loving the photography! Some really great shots on the cloudy/foggy day, then with the evening light. Excellent!

thank you for the entertainment :)!
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:01 PM   #269
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May we contribute back?

Ciao, Gliga.

I'd like to make a small donation toward upgrading your photobucket account - there are so many beautiful pictures at the beginning of this thread that have disappeared due to bandwidth constraints. This is a tragedy! (Feel free to PM me if you like.)

Thanks for more of your fantastic ride report - your candor is absolutely refreshing.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:51 PM   #270
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Such a beautiful part of the world. All of the wars and suffering the region has seen seem impossible to imagine in such a beautiful place.
Reading some of the older ride reports from Ukraine once it became independent bring the tragic thought of history continually repeating itself to mind.
One of the things I enjoy most about the ride reports here is that the majority of humans encountered on these rides are just doing the best they can, like most of us, and the dirty world of power and politics which occupies the news that we all hear is as far removed from the average citizen in their own country as it is from us.
Maybe if more politicians rode bikes the world would be a better place.
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