Day 11, Tour 08, Trebinje, BIH to near Danilovgrad, MNE

Looking down into Montenegro from near the border

I intended to ride from Trebinja, BIH to Niksic, MNE, but after getting to Niksic, I decided to ride on towards Podgorica. I coudl have ridden on into Podgorica, but, instead choose to stop about 10 km away. I'm at a 3 star hotel on the road into the city. Tomorrow I'll go into the city and look into getting a bus ride to Pristina, Kosovo.

Leaving Trebinja

My standard room wasn't fancy, and a few things didn't work too well, but the bed was big and comfortable and I slept very well last night. This morning I went over to the restaurant for the, included in the room price, breakfast and had a good three star breakfast. That was the best breakfast of this tour. Tonight my room really is three star, and, since it is right on a busy highway, the airconditioning is useful. I hope breakfast is as good, but I don't really expect it will be. The restauarnt here is rather limited, but I had a decent supper.

This morning, after I left the hotel, I rode over to a bakery and, using Bosnia change I got from my Euro hotel bill, bought food enough for the day. That turned out to be wise since there was no food available on the road till I reached Niksic. In Niksic, I ate the last of the food I bought in Trebinja while sitting in a park, contemplating going on.

I knew I would have a hard climb today, and I wasn't dissapointed. I didn't know how pretty the ride to the border would be. The first ten, of the roughly fifteen miles to the border, were along the river that runs through Trebenje. It was nice riding in a very pretty valley.

Riding along the river

Looking back at Trebinje

Then the road went through a short tunnel and follwed a creek. That wasn't much steeper than riding along the river, but then the road left the creek and the serious climbing started. I climbed, at what I'd estimate was a 6 to 8% grade, for the next hour and a half. I covered five miles in that time which would make the climb a bit over 2000 feet. That also fits will my current raate of climb on a loaded bike which is about 1400 feet per hour.

Looking back from part way up the climb, I can see the tunnel exit and the road along the creek on the left hand side of this image

Looking back after 45 minute of climbing

I stopped to rest and snack after 45 minutes of climbing and and hour and 45 minutes of riding. Then I climbed for another half an hour to reach the Bosnian border station and another fifteen minutes after that to get to the Montenegro station. It was after 11:30 - I started a bit after 8 - when I was officially in Montenegro, and finally near the end f that long climb. I sat down past the end of the station and ate lunch, a burek. I saved part of it for a feral dog who hung out at the station. He had a good nose - he smelled that burek from about 100 feet away - and he was very cautious about his begging.

And interesting free standing rock

The final section of climb before the Bosnian station

My bike near where I took my break

Once over the top, I expected a long, fast descent, so I put on my wind vest. I took it off again less than ten minutes later. The road went down moderately steeply for a few hundred feet, then gently, sometimes mixed with a little climbing, for the next 20 km. It was easy riding in a mostly uninhabited area. About 10 m from Niksic, the descent got serious and the scenery got pretty.

Heading down into a gentle valley

A beautiful lake near Niksic, as seen from the fast part of the downhill
Niksic is visible on the other side of the lake

I was dissapointed when I rode into Niksic. It was in such a pretty location and and had a nice park in front of a beautiful Orthodox church, but it wasn't at all peaceful, so I didn't want to stay there. It was only 55 km to Podgorica, and, despite my tired legs, I figured I could make it there since I knew there was a lot of downhill in those km. After anaging to get back on the road to Podgorica, via one of the most chaotic round abouts I've ever ridden, I stopped at a service staion to get water for the rest of the ride. I got a 1.5 liter bottle of water for .5 E. It was marked .6 E, but when I could only find .5 E of euro change, the fellow at the station said that was enough. That was a nice start to my ride from Niksic ;-}.

I really wanted to have a beer in Niksic, but I worried that the ride out of town might be dangerous and would need my wits about me. The ride out of town was fine. It was the ride through the long tunnel just south of town that made me glad I hadn't had a beer. Coming up to th tunnel, I coudl see it was a long one - I think it was the longest tunnel I've ever ridden - but it was lighted. I rode in and discovered that the lighting was spotty in many places. There was always enough light ahead to tell where the tunnel went - it curved a lot - but, too often, there was no light to see what lay directly ahead or to tell where the curb at the edge of the road was. I had to take the lane and hope it was clear, because I couldn't chance my front bags hitting that high curb. Unfortunately, I had major traffic burst pass me while I was in the section of the tunnel with patches of bad lighting. The tunnel sloped down, so I was doing about 15 to 20 mph. The folks passing me were doing 50 to 60 mph. It wasn't fun, although it was exciting. I held the lane and nobody ran over me.

Near the tunnels south end, the slope increased and, after exiting the tunnel at about 20 mph, I was about to hold that speed for at least 30 km. It is an amazing downhill that last for more than half the way to Podgorica. I stopped, after 13 km, to look at Ostrog, a monaster in an incredible location high up on the other wall of valley I was riding down. There was no way I was going to ride up to the monastery - that would have taken more, and steeper, cllimbing than I had done already today - but I stopped to admire it and to photograph it. It was quite challenge to get usable image of the monastery, even with my TZ-3


Looking back at a tunnel and up the valley

Looking across the valley

After Ostrog, I didn't stop again till Danilograd. I rode into that town, which is adjacent to the highway, to see if there was a place to stay. I stopped to ask a policeman about hotels and restaurants there. There was only one restaurant and no hotel, but the town was interesting in an 'off the beaten path' way and I'm glad I got to see it. After I got back on the highway, I saw the hotel where I am staying tonight. Other than having to kill five flies, and still having a sixth fly on the loose, and some incredibly noisy neigbors who like to slam doors in this, not very well soundproofed building,

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