Day 14, Rozaje, MNE to near Pristina, KSV

At 7 AM, it was not looking like a good day for riding

Although I awoke to rain, and thought it might be an all day rain, by 9 AM the weather had cleared and the road was mostly dry. I packed up and went to get my bike from where I had left it yesterday. It wasn't there ;-{. Fortunately, one of the hotel staff had moved it to a more secure - read locked - location. They hadn't told the young man who helped me park it yesterday. He was a bit shaken, and so was I, but the bike was fine.

I rode through Rozaje. It was really active at 9:30 AM, with lots of folks on foot and lots of vehicles in the road. I ha to be very cautious to avoid being run into or running into a pedestrian, but it was a very friendly sort of chaos. After I got through most of the town, I came to where the road to Pec heads off. After studying the topography - big mountains between Rozaje and Pec and a river valley between Rozaje and Kosovska Mitrovica, I decided I could put up with the much more complicated border situation on the way to Kosovska Mitrovica and did not take the turn for Pec.

Really pretty country

Yet another lovely river gorge

The ride out of Rozaje to Serbia was stunningly beautiful. What else since it was in Montenegro? It was also interesting in that I saw a mosque and a Roma camp. I hadn't seen either of those things in Montenegro. Before I reached the Roma camp, a young Roma boy came walking down the road - I was climbing at that point - and we exchanged greeting as we passed.

Short tunnels in Montenegro
Check out those neat rocks

It was mostly a long downhill to the border. On one of the steeper parts, I passed a market and went back to get bananas and some fruit cups for snacks. I still had bread from Podgorica. Now I was equipped for the ride to Kosovo!

When I got to the Montenegro border station there was some confusion as the agent wanted my bike's 'mark.' I turned out that, in English, he wanted the make. I've never had that question asked before, but usually I'm on the bike the agent so he can just look. I rode on for quite a way and found myself at the Serbian border. I really didn't want to go through Serbia, but I had no choice. It was quite a nice, rather long, and very pretty stretch, to the next border station. Most of the people I saw looked, and acted, Albanian, and I saw several mosque, but no churches. I stopped in the middle of this section for my first snack.

An RV - Serbian style - resort on the river

Then I came to a Serbian border station. The formalities there seemed pretty normal. I rode on and, a mile or two later, came to a fortified UN station. Concertina wire, concrete barriers, lots of big guys with guns, and several different varieties of assault vehicles up to the size of a tank, all with guns and armor. You wouldn't want to mess with these folks!

At that station, I got a UN arrival form that gives me permission to stay in Kosovo for up to 90 days. One of the guys explained that, since it wasn't an official border, they couldn't just stamp my passport. He asked where I was going and said the folks at the border crossing to Macedonia would accept the UN form.

After crossing the initial UN station, I got to ride through an even more heavily armed place with a grim looking special forces type checking me out. Then I rode a long way on down the river valley - it was all the same river valley - but now there were no signs of human habitation other than an occasional vehicle - mostly UN - and one military convoy. There were lots of tunnels, none of them lighted and some of them almost long enough - 200 M and curved - to need lights. I used my small front light in several of them and I left my rear light on for most of the ride along the river. I think I rode though at least 20 tunnels today.

Still in the same river valley, descending toward the first Kosovo town

Finally, there was a long descent and I found what I was looking for, a restaurant. I had a very good, and way too big for me to finish all of it, lunch for 8 Euros. Now I was ready to ride on to Pristina. The best meal I've had on this tour.

It was dripping a bit while I rode to Kosovska Mitrovica, but I was feeling good after a great lunch

I passed through several more military check points, including one with barriers, heavy weapons, and concertina wire, after lunch and passed a big Danish Military base on the way to Kosovska Mitrovica. I saw a French base well south of Kosovska Mitrovica and some of the military I saw were British. All of the police I saw were UN. I saw several military convoys and lots of individual military vehicles.

When I got to Kosovska Mitrovica, there were still hills to the south, but after passing though the city I reached an industrial area on relatively flat land. The road to Pristina, which seems to be the main north-south road in Kosovo, climbs gently to the south. Traffic was heavy at times and the pavement was not the best, but there was a side/tail wind, and I was moving right along at 14 to 15 mph. I thought I had about 40 km to go and I was hoping to do it on well less than 2 hours.

The road to Pristina, in a rare moment where there wasn't any traffic near me

Traffic right after Milosevo

I cranked along strongly for over an hour, but the wind shifted a bit south, the land became hillier and, at Milosevo, there was a long hill. I started looking for a place to stop. I really didn't want it to be right on the road because of road noise and I wanted a place where it would be easy to work on my bike. I haven't needed to do anything - even top up the tires - to my bike since I left Budapest. I figured it would be good to check it over and, possibly, lube the chain.

I found a place set well back from the road with cabins behind the restaurant. I got the last - farthest back - cabin. It isn't perfect, but the bed is comfortable and I can bring my bike into the room for the first time on this tour. I didn't need supper after that huge lunch, but I did take my computer to the restaurant and have a beer after cleaning up. Then I went back to my room and worked on this web page till I went to bed. I was told the restaurant opened at 8 AM. so I figured I'd to to sleep in.

At 8, I went to the restaurant. It wasn't open and the only person there was a security guard who, while quite friendly, wanted to know what I was doing, on foot, poking around the restaurant. That could have been a bit awkward since we didn't have a common language, but once he understood I had stayed here last night, we went went back to my cabin and he told me the restaurant would open at 9. Now I think I'll just take an easy morning here and ride into Pristina before lunch. It should be less than 5 km away. The actual distance from Kosovska Mitrovica to Pristina is 50 km, not 37 km as I thought yesterday.

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