Looking back at Pristina
When I went to the restaurant at 9 AM, for breakfast I was told would start at 8 AM, I discovered that they didn't do any food until 11 AM. I left in disgust, went back to my room and packed, and was on the road at 9:30. If the owner hadn't lied to me about breakfast, my ride would have started at least an hour earlier and I wouldn't have gotten caught in the rain on my way to Kumonovo this afternoon. Of course I might have spent some time in Pristina instead of just getting on down the road after I found a place to get a sandwich at 10 AM, and then gotten caught in the rain on my way to Skopje. There were wide spread storms with heavy rain all over northern Macedonia late this afternoon.
A typical small Kosovo town on the way south from Pristina
When I got to Pristina, I saw that I could continue south towards the border on go into the city. It didn't look like much fun to go in, and I wasn't in a good odd for it, so I continued south. I stopped for 'breakfast' but the best I could do was a sandwich with beer. It was pretty good ;-}.
Somewhere on the road south of Pristina
You know you are in Kosovo when the bridges have weight limits for tanks as well as for trucks
The ride south was mildly hilly with mountains ahead until Gabrica where the road enters a river gorge. That was pretty and, except for a few 6 mph climbs, downhill to the border. At the town just before the border, I stopped at a market to get bananas and yogurt, refill my water bottles, and take a break. When I got to the Kosovo side of the border, the agent took the UN Kosovo travel authorization and stamped my passport, presumably with an exit stamp for Serbia. At the Macedonian side, the agent was appreciative of bike and wanted to know about my tour.
In Macedonia, the road was marked no bicycles, but I ignored that. On the way to Skopje, I passed a police check point beside a no bicycles sign. The police smiled at me.
The road, after 10 or 15 km of rural riding, went through a long industrial area and then became an expressway going past Skopje. I stopped at a busy service station to use the bathroom and eat a banana, then rode on, and on, and on, toward Skopje. Finally it became obvious that I had ridden past Skopje, so I stopped to ask some men at the side of the road where I was. Looking at the map, and considering that there was no way to turn around on the expressway, I decided to keep going on to Kumonovo, 35 km farther on on the expressway. Kumonovo was on my route to Bulgaria and there were big storms behind me in Skopje, so I rode on hoping to stay ahead of the rain.
I had a great shoulder to ride on for about 20 km
After ten km or so, there was a toll both. I worried that I might not be allowed to continue, but they just charged me the same toll as a car and sent me on my way. By this time the storms were widespread and I was heading back north, on the M1 expressway, right into them. I stopped to put on rain gear and the cover on my rear panniers and was hit by heavy rain from a storm that came from behind me! I did OK in the rain and wind, but, after the storm had passed, I had a really strong headwind to deal with. The road had major puddles and the spray from passing vehicles, fortunately there weren't too many of them, made riding unpleasant.
I saw a motel on the other side of the expressway that looked like a good place to stop, but there was no way to get there. The median had continuous guard rails on both sides with weeds and a small ditch between them. I went over the median, picked my loaded bike up and put it down on the other side of the guard rail, then made a path through the weeds and across the ditch to the other side where I repeated the process. Then I rode over to the motel and checked in. Only later did I think about the fact that I'm going to have to repeat that process to get back to the other side. It wasn't easy getting the bike over those guard rails, and it was messy getting through the weeds ;-}.