Tour05 Day 14

The hotel in Ulcinj It was in the old city
getting to it required carrying the bike up a lot of stane stairs, but the view was worth it

The coast of Montenegro is stunning. It also is very hilly with lots of sustained 8% grades. I've always felt that, for bicycle touring, hills and scenic beauty go together. Part of that is simply that great views come from being well above the scenery you are looking at, and part of it is my love of mountains. Montenegro has plenty of scenic beauty, and much of it requires a lot of climbing. I did about 100 km today. My computer is only working intermitently, so I don't have ans accurate measure. I climbed thousands of feet, mostly on 8 % grades. I didn't bring an altimeter, so I don't have a measure for climbing, but I do know about how fast I climb and about how many hours I spent climbing today, and if I combine that data , I come up with something around a mile of climbing. Then there is the way my legs feel, another good measure the amount of climbing :-(. Added in the morning: and the fact that I went to sleep at 8 PM and woke up at 7:30 AM!

Eight percent grade

I'm in Tivat, Montenegro tonight. I can tell because Tivat is under the takeoff path of jet planes from the biggest - maybe only - big airport in Montenegro. This country is far too mountainous for a long runway, except near here where there is a big flat(ish) valley that leads up to s spectacular lake. Tivat is on that lake and the planes have climb very steeply over the lake in order to avoid running into the mountains at the end of the lake. I'm here because there is a ferry that goes across the lake and, if I take it, I can save about 30 km of riding. If I don't , I expect a very nice ride around a beautiful lake :-).

The long, gentle climb leaving Ulcinj heading north

I started from Ulcinj (pronounced ulqin) at about 9+30 this morning and got here after 5:30 this evening. I stopped in Budva for a (too) big late lunch. I had a light supper here tonight, but my stomach still is complaining about lunch. I really shouldn't eat till my stomach hurts!

Fortunately, the hill after Budva is only a 7% grade and is less than half as high as some of the hill south of Budva and after that hill, I was in a long, relatively flat - the grade did get up to about 3%, but mostly it was 1 or 2% - after riding a long series of 8% hills, even 3% feels flat - so I was able to do some digesting as I rode to Tivat.

The coast between Ulcinj and Bar

From Ulcinj to Bar wasn't too bad. After climbing several hundred feet just to get out of Uclinj, there is a long - five km - climb at about 3% followed by a much steeper descent back to a bridge that crosses the next valley opening out to the Adriatic. It is sort of like the California coast where you descend into and climb out of a succession of places where rivers or creeks empty into the Ocean. The difference is that the mountains here are much bigger as are the climbs. The scenery is more spectacular too. It is even nicer, and hillier, than the northern Oregon coast! Until I got to the valley Tivat is in, there was almost no flat riding today. I don't expect much flat riding tomorrow as I ride to Dubrovnik. I think this valley is the biggest flat space on this part of the coast.

Lookinf down, with telephoto, at the Adriatic for near the top of a climb

Other than a lot of climbing and a lot of 'to die for' views, the most exciting thing was long, unlit, tunnels. The longest tunnel today was 370 meters - a quarter mile - and curved. I had some lighting, but several other tunnels were over 250 meters with no lighting.

I didn't bring a real light on this trip. I knew I was very unlikely to ride after dark because there is so much daylight here, and I didn't think about tunnels.I do have two rear LED light and an LED light on my helmet, but all of those are about being seen, not seeing. These tunnels have sidewalks - but not good enough to ride on - and the curbs of the sidewalk were very hard to see when there was oncoming traffic. In one tunnel, I had a truck behind me blowing its horn - telling me to get over and let it pass - but I couldn't tell where the curb was and, if I had run into it, I would have crashed and probably been run over by that truck. This was not a fun situation. Bring a good light. I'll look for one tomorrow in Dubrovnic.

A beautiful bay with beach

Another, with islands

The next bay, looking back

Budva is at the left side of this image

The beauty of the Adriatic and the Montenegran coast - and, I expect, the Croation coast - is really well beyond anything I've seen on the US coasts. There are a few bits of coast in California and, more so, in northern Oregon that are, maybe, as nice, but here it just keeps coming, bay after bay, and the towns and villages accent the beauty rather than interfere with it.

The weather was great - I did get sprinkled on a little at the end of the day, but mostly it was sunny and cool. The traffic wasn't bad,except in some cities - Bar in particular - and the riding was spectacular. Of course, I used a 20" gear (20x28) to climb those sustained 8% grades at 4.5 mph with a comfortable cadence. I didn't need my 17 " gear (20x32), but I would have if there had a been a headwind while climbing. Today the wind was mostly at my back, which is nice on the flat, but hot when the air moves with you up a steep hill. The road quality was very good.

About half way up the coast from Uclinj, the road along the coast met the road from Podgorica. The other way to come fromAlbania to Montenegro goes through Podgorica. From the road I saw, I think coming over the mountans from Podgorica to the coast would be even more climbing than going to Ulcinj and going up the coast.

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