Wildflowers high up in Montenegro
I'm sitting in my room in Rozaje, waiting for the hot water to warm up so that I can take a shower. After half an hour, it is up to luke warm. I think I'll wait for warm. Hotel rooms in Europe usually have a small hot water heater mounted to the bathroom wall. Usually it is already on when I get to my room, but these folks forgot or are economizing. Its is nice room, with it own bathroom and with breakfast, for 15 E - probably the best deal of this tour so far - so I'm not going to complain, It is not a big deal for me since I need to work on this web page anyway.
I had a long day today, riding around Crna Glava and then on to Rozaje which is the routing point for getting to Kosovo from Montenegro. I have two choices tomorrow; riding through Pec or riding through Kosovska Mirovica. I'll probably go for Pec even though there is a pass that way. I need to find someone local who has some English to give me advice on that route. My route today was based on advice from my hotel this morning: "don't go that way, the road is bad."
There were no passes on my route today, but the climb between Berane and Rozaje took an hour and a half and ended with a tunnel that was almost a mile long. Maybe it isn't a pass because it has a tunnel? Anyway, it was another 2000 ft or so, climb. Fortunately for my legs, there was only one other long - half an hour - climb today. Most of the route went down two river valleys and up one, gentle, river valley.
A galleria in the first gorge. It keeps falling rocks off the highway
Pretty, easy, riding in the first gorge
The first gorge took me to Mojkovac with very little climbing. Leaving Mojkovac meant leaving the river and climbing over a ridge. It was a steep climb for half an hour followed by a gentle climb for another ten minutes, followed by a steep, curvy downhill that, eventually, took me to a second river valley. I followed that valley all the way to where the road to Belgrade split off of the road to Berane.
There is a big national park shortly before the road splits
Notice that Montenegro's Tourism now includes English
Heading for Berane meant climbing up a gentle river valley
The ride to Berane was easy, and pretty, but it was also wet. It started sprinkling when I was only a few miles from Berane. I stopped to put on my rear rain covers, and got pretty wet as the rain suddenly increased. I rode on, down a hill from the highest point above the river in moderate rain. I had already taken two pizza - pica here - breaks and I was ready to stop for lunch. The pizza was left over from last nights dinner and served me well as break food today. At the bottom of the hill, there was a restaurant, so I rode in and got my bike, and myself, out of the rain.
I was soaked and dripping, and it was cold! I dried off as best I could and the woman waiter/bar maid brought in a seat cushion setup from one of the outside tables so I could sit inside where it was warmer without getting my chair wet. I had a .5 l beer and 'meatloaf' with a good salad and french fries. By the time I was finished, the weather had cleared up and I rode - rather cold - on. I stopped to change to a dry pair of gloves and, by the time I got to Berane, I was mostly dry.
It started dripping a bit as I started up the hill riding towards Rozaje. I stopped and put on my rain gear, but I had to take the jacket off ten minutes later as I was overheating. I had my RainLegs around my waist, but never needed to put them down on my legs. The rear - butt protection - panel that I added to my RainLegs, got wet, as did my shirt, but since I was climbing steadily, I was comfortable. Farther up the hill - I had no idea how long I would be climbing - I took the RainLegs off, but kept them, my rain jacket, and my wind vest all on my rear rack in case I needed them. I ended up using the rain jacket as a wind jacket on the fast descent.
Looking back after I had been climbing for more than a hour
At the top of the climb, there was a ski-resort. I stopped shortly before I reached it to rest and eat my last piece of pizza. It was peaceful sitting there in great beauty, listening to the bell on a sheep and watching a shepherd with his large flock of sheep on the steep slope across the road from me. Then I rode on past the resort and saw the tunnel.
I was expecting, and hoping for, a tunnel. I could see that the road didn't go over the ridge ahead ( and several hundred feet up) and I couldn't see any way, except for a tunnel, for it to leave the end of the valley. I was hoping for a tunnel because I didn't want to climb several hundred more feet! When I saw how long this tunnel was and that, while it had lights, they were turned off, I was less enthusiastic about it. However, I did have my little light handy and there wasn't much traffic, so I figured it would be OK. I also wondered if there was a way to turn on the lights but I didn't see any way to do that.
I turned on my rear light and, holding my little light aimed low and to the side, I rode into the tunnel. It is disorienting to ride without being able to see any thing except, dimly, a small spot of pavement in front of you, and, when a big truck came into the tunnel behind me, I got over to the curb and waited for it to pass. Then a car came the other way and, briefly flashed its lights at me. Finally, I was alone in the dark, and now I could see the other end of tunnel thousands of feet ahead of me. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could, barely, see both the center line and the outside line on my side of the road. It wasn't great, but I could deal with it. Then the lights in the tunnel started coming on. They were sodium vapor lights so it took a while and they didn't all come on, but for the last half of the tunnel, they made riding much easier. I think the car that flashed its light must have know how get the lights in the tunnel turned on.
When I got out of the tunnel, I put my jacket on and headed downhill. The road was a bit rough in many places, and worse than rough in a few, but I manage to avoid the worst of it. The biggest annoyance was a car that hung on my tail for way too long. It really annoys me to have a car close behind me when I'm going fast on bad pavement. There is a heightened chance of a crash under those circumstances, and having to worry about being run over if I go down does not make me happy.
A long - a km, at least - line of cars stopped near Rozaje
Shortly before I reached the tunnel, and ambulance came speeding toward me with siren blaring and lights flashing. I wondered if someone had been injured at the ski-resort. When I got down near Berane, I found out where the ambulance came from. All the cars and trucks that had passed me in the last hour were stopped in the road. I stopped, then decided that, since folks were out of their vehicles and walking along the road toward the source of the blockage, I would ride down to see if I could get through. I could.
The blockage was caused by a nasty accident. Two fancy cars had hit, drivers side front corner to driver side front corner, at high speed. The passenger compartments of both cars had been penetrated where each drivers legs would have been. The police were still recording data from the scene, but I walked my bike around it and, crossing only one marked police line ;-}, rode on alongside the equally long line of vehicles on the other side.
Now it is morning. During the early morning I heard great booms of thunder and I awoke to steady rain. I watched the Belgrade news and weather as I ate breakfast. The bad weather is widespread over southern central and eastern Europe. I think I'll be taking a rain day today. Thanks to my friend Kevin, I have plenty of e-books to read, so I won't be bored.