TET Balkans

Dramas, anectodes, and fairytales. Cock-and-bull stories, too.

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Ni3ous
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TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:06 pm

As far as I remember I always loved to look in to various road maps.
Before GPS times everywhere I went, I bought a country road map, so I ended collecting them.

Now in computer era I dont have to buy maps anymore. But I still love to explore maps... so I still spend many nights behind computer, exploring various maps, Google Earth, Mapsoure etc... creating new tracks and dreaming were my next trail riding trip will take me. I always loved to create new tracks in regions less explored away from touristic destinations. Scan all possible maps, find new remote difficult offroad trails than go and ride them.

For few years I had another nice idea and that was to create connected as much as possible off road trail through whole balkan peninsula from Slovenia to Greece.
Stars aligned at the right time and I was invited in TET group in early development stages, when we did not have (yet) any Linesmans for every Balkan country like we have today, so I was encouraged to start working on that idea and create the whole TET Balkans section gpx track to be used as first version for TET balkans.
Today every Balkan country already has its own Linesman who manages and develop his country TET gpx's, so nature of the tracks and changes are all covered by specific country Linesmans and not by me.

Given that the balkans dont have (yet) so strict regulations regarding driving in nature, I can say that when I was choosing a specific trail I could really knock my self out and plan an offroad trail via the most beautifull regions, national parks, lakes, mountains ... in short, as many natural beauties as possible on as little asphalted roads as possible.

After manny sleepless nights behind computer ( I have a regular job, wife and two yougsters so not that much free time during a regular day), weeks, months and also winter passed by and I managed to end up with something that is supposed to be also TET Balkans from Slovenia (Slovenia-Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Albania) all the way to the Greece border.

I ended up with 2300 km of track length, which contains about 80-85% unpaved paths that are all types of quality and complexity.

This whole 2300 km track of Balkans section than also needed to be recced to make sure its really passable, interesting enough, good quality, legal and safe to use for TET.
So I took two weeks time in mid June to make the first ride and clean up the track of any mistakes before the official TET launch.
If I wanted to inspect the track I needed to ride 100% of it. So my goal was to acctually ride the whole 2300 km of TET Balkans in quite limited time.

So now you know how it all started for me and here you will be able to follow ride report of my solo trip through TET Balkans.


Bike packed and ready for trip:
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This Tenere has lots of modifications for better offroad performance, like USD 48mm KYB-300 mm travel, Slavens racing springs, 320mm Moto Master oversize front disc, rear 18" wheel...
Managed to reduce factory weight for more than 12 kilos...


Some teaser photos, to get a feel of what lays ahead:
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Did I manage to complete the task? Was I able to inspect 100% of the track? What went wrong?
Stay tuned if you are interested to find out how it went.



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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ard » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:39 pm

That looks beautiful matey ! Sure must do some of that one day !
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:00 pm

Thursday: SLOVENIA & CROATIA

Departure day.

At dawn, I took asphalted roads to reach Delnice where TET Croatia started.
I live in Slovenia so somehow, I did not feel like riding also Slovenian TET, because it is so close to my home and I can do it during the year anytime and mostly I already did it.

So the trails really started in Delnice initially more forest tracks, then slowly began to open with wievs.

The first feelings of solo ride are mixed, but after about 20 minutes I already fell in the rhythm.

The northern part of the Velebit TET is in my taste a bit to deep in the woods, without no wievs ... but TET tracks are developing all the time and seems like TET Croatia will bring manny beautiful trails in next season. Croatia has a lot to offer and riders will be able to take part soon.

So I continued the trail and few hours further south on Velebit National park you begin to get more views...
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Trails through whole Velebit are wide, in good condition and quite fast, so progress was good.

I continue following TET past Alan village and continue towards the windmills on nice trail section.
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When you are sketching tracks through satellite images, you see everything, you have to click every bend and each crossroad, so somehow you already get familiar with the trail you created via GE and take a section as if you were driving there before. A good part of a good continuous driving is also the precise track formation that takes no error on a way riding becomes fluid without slowing down or stopping at intersections, the case just becomes interesting and when you catch the rhythm, it can give hour or two of uninterrupted pace which I like the most.

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I made good progress, there were no problems and soon I came close above Karlobag, where really nice things came across. Here I have rounded up twice up and down, recorded a couple of videos and stills. Absorbed moments and beautifull nature.

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I'm getting closer to the Paklenica mountains, where the terrain is mostly impassable or still full land mines, so creating trails in that region is not smart idea. This is the reason why there is a section of asphalt by the sea in this part of TET. Since this is the only section by the seashore through the whole TET Balkans it felt ok to give it a go even tho its asphalted section. Its mediterranean after all.

First look at the sea just above Karlobag.
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Descend to the coast and ride to the south of Paklenica:
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At Seline you begin to climb again on the mountain...
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Nice section of trails is taking you towards fabulous Tulove Grede:
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But before the ascent towards the top my clutch cable broke.
Arghh... I was preparing my bike therally for the whole winter, replacing everything on the bike that did not look like new, plus lots of stuff just as preventative measure, because I did not want the bike would fail on this trip. I also checked clutch cable at home and looked okay. I missed the signs of damage since it was torn straight inside the rivet on the handle bar side of the wire and there were no signs of damage or loosening until it was sufficiently torn to cut off in second. This struck me on the ego, because I really thought that the bike was 100% ready for this trip.

I did not want to turn around, so I continue to the top of Tulove Grede. This section is part of the track from Benduro (Croatian annual enduro meeting) years ago. A nice section, all the praises to the guys. They made it easier for me to create the trail through this mountain. Everything is fine and right, I continue riding over the mountain, but try driving (or rather starting from still) without a clutch. Few sections are really demanding even with the clutch. In front of me was one kilometer big descend over the thoughest terrain with big rocks. This was for me one of themost challenging and longer toughest section.
I struggled not to stop since I was without clutch, so doing that one without even putting foot on a ground was quite challenging. Somehow I have managed through without a fall ...

Bear in mind this slope lasts for almost 1000m its steeper than it looks and rocks are bigger - like always :confusion-scratchheadblue:

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I continue on descending on the other side of the mountain for another hour or so and before the asphalt towards Obrovac I made a lunch stop for a hot soup, to make my stomack a bit better. 2 days before departure on the trip I was still in hospital, because of stomach pains so I still felt weak and the stomach did not accept nothing more than a soup and dry bread. All this in very small quantities. Although the body needed a lot more calories for such trip than stomach could accept.

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First thing after coming back of the mountains was to try and find some local mechanic somewhere on the TET track...

Somehow, before leaving home, I set the goal if conditions will be on my side to try to get TET Balkans done completely 100%, not to omit any sections. Partly because I just decided to review and clean up the track of possible mistakes, partly as a personal challenge. So I continued on the track without a clutch until I saw parked motorcycle by the road. I stopped. It turns out that the owner is a mechanic who has a workshop behind the house and is ready for help.

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He also had some weird stuff parked around the house which reminded me on some of Top Gear special's where they had a crappy car for reserve in case one of theirs would fail :D and they would have to take the vehicle of shame instead. Uff I better repair my trusty Tenere or I'll end up with the pink stuff. :lol
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Broken cable:
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:00 pm

Mechanic made me custom tensioning screw for the clutch wire:
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We had a nice chat about the bikes and the motorbike scene also from Jugoslavian times.
Well this went well, we drank one big beer together, because the stomach was not stable yet so I was careful. Also driving and drinking... not so good combo.
But I saw that beer did not bother my stomach at all. I liked that. :D

Soon I managed to continue the TET. It contained some fine and dynamic sections, towards Knin, the gravel is smooth and the bike slides nice around the curves.
I found out a little bit more about the D606 tire, which slides soon but controlled.

In the meantime I get some little beauties ...
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Taking a swim in clean Zrmanja river in late afternoon. Refreshing.
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I finish the day in Knin along the Krka River. A pleasant refreshment in hot summertime. For the first time I am also testing my home made tent, which I made from scratch over the winter from a pair of sheets and roll of duct tape for a total of 10 €. The idea was to make a useful tent without support pillars, to attach it on the bike itself. So I reduced volume and weight to a minimum. The tent weighs 1.3 kg and takes less volume than tents for € 200 plus, making it suitable for luxury 3 people without any problem. It works just fine. I'll make another one this winter but a little smaller, for solo trips, it will probably weigh about 850 grams and will take about 2 liters of space, which will be a great deal for packing light.

Before night I made it to camp at Krka river next to Knin
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I pitch my home made tent:
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I ended up having a loud party late in the night with Srečko, the manager of the EKO Café on the Krka River where I had my overnight sport.
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I realized that I still can not ingest normal foods in remarkable quantities, but beer my body accepted just perfectly in unlimited quantities. :facepalm

This day, I rode a total of around 500 kilometers, so progress was quite good.
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by markoe » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:38 am

500km in a day with clutch problem :uhoh nice :handgestures-thumbup:
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Don T » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:57 am

Thank you for sharing - this is just what I need during the dark and cold winter when my bike is hibernating.

I did a bit of Balkan back country exploring on two wheels a couple of years ago.
Your RR makes me want to return to this beautiful corner of Europe.
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:15 pm

Thanks for compliments folks!


Day 2 TET Balkans.

Knin along the Krka River ... middle of the night... I heard something around my biouvac so I hit with my hand on a tarp and it turned out there was a cat who frightened herself to death and run away fast ...I slept for a while more than I woke up at dawn, which is very early in June.

I deliberately chose the date for this trip in mid-June, because I love long days. And during this trip there will be summer solsticium with the longest days of the year. Those are the days we can enjoy about 17 hours of daylight. Perfect for someone like me, who does not need much sleep and is an early bird. So I can get out of my days maximum. That's my time.

I am still under my tarp and the sun will not be above the horizon for some time. I raise the side sheet of my bivouac, who served well at night and on the opposite side of the Krka River, I notice the outline of the fortress on the hill.
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This seemed interesting so I took time and went to look a little closer ...

In the early morning there was complete tranquility. Nobody around yet. I took a nice walk around the fortress and enyojed the wievs on the landscape and city.

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I dont keep historic stuff in my mind well but as Srečko said the fort dates back to the 9th century, when we spoke about it last evening.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knin_Fortress

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After descending back in town and into the valley, the daily routine was followed as always on such trips. Restore supplies for another 24 hours with fuel, water and food. So I dont have to worry about it untill next morning. I can finish the day anywhere, preferably in a mountain away from touristy destinations. If I want to stay on TET track without having to leave it for fuel, food, water than progress is substantionally better. So being organized helps.

From Knin I took aphalted road towards Bosansko Grahovo to the Bosnian border. After 20 km in Bosnia track is back on fast unpaved roads.
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It looks like you ride in a walley but altitudes are around 1000m above sea.

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Soon there is a turn for Šatorsko lake, some 10 km of nice twisties ... on every couple of km I noticed big pile od poop. What is this I'm asking myself because I have not seen a cow or any other big animals.
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Poops were quite big and there was really a lot of them. I know something about animals and I realized that are all bear poops! I jumped on a bike, revved the engine a bit to make some noise and left the scene.
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At the top you drive past the abandoned mountain hut than a magnificent view of the Šator Lake opens.
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At the abandoned cabin I met a group, I stoped and chat a little. Forest rangers had a nice fire, sousages on on the grill, chillin in the shade...it was their lunch time.
I ask one of them what's with these bear shit along the road and I get the answer: Seems like they dont make it to the toilet! :lol

This is tipical balkan joking. They will always find a reason to joke about something, which is great.

Later we went together by the lake on a nice walk and siteseeing around the lake.
I asked them about bear safety and the rangers explained that this area is densely populated with bears and if alone or small group thye storngly advised not to stay at the lake owernight. They said you will probably have no problems, but the risk is just to high and they advised against camping here overnight.

Rangers:
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We spend quite some time together and to me it did not look like they are there for work but more like a picnic. I say to my self they must have took it the Bosnian way. I like it more than the tempo of life we are having in Slovenia.

Later on I continued on TET track, followed by some 60 km of forest trails towards Livno ...

I drive at a heights around 1400-1500 m, the valley in the background is at 1000 meters nm. A wider part of Bosnia in this area is in higher altitudes even when in the walleys.
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It was around 14pm and I came across nice quiet spot which was perfect for afternoon rest and a bowl of hot soup that I cooked on the burner. The stomack is still not there. Soup and little dry bread, but not too much because I am afraid to get pain again. The stomack gratefully accepts the meal and energy well deserved.
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This is how I make some selfies on solo trip:
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After an hour rest on the mountain meadow in peace and silence I managed to absorb the nature around me nicely. I was looking forward to get back in a sadle and explore the track ahead. I routinely check if everything is in place, check the zippers are closed than I hit the pedal in gear and ride on.



Today, the weather is volatile, storms are being made around me but luck is on my side because I successfully slalom between them. I am well rewarded with natural phenomena here and there...


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A series of walleys open up new views in a vast distance ...
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Sometimes you accidentally come across a nice view or an interesting hill or something so I go from the track and explore.

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But keep in mind this is Bosnia! Never forget about land mines. To be safe always stay on a visible path that you see it is used from locals. If you see bushes grown, grass uncut, never go there. Stay on path that is used - always.
If you are not sure, than do not go off TET track.


Continuing on trails between Glamoč and Kupres ... A little back from the picture below, it was scary... a lot of land mines... boards with warnings every 20 metres followed with the protective guiding tapes ... it was very scary feeling. Been to many mine infested areas in my past, but here place is more infested with mines than usuall at least from the warnings you would think so. A couple of bends forward there is such a beautiful valley, a clean stream along the side, beautiful view, the smell of pines .. idylic. It's hard to understand that in the same place just 20 years ago there was war and killing took place.


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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ni3ous » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:01 pm

Just before Kupres...

...it was raining in past few days, so on some areas there was still some mud...
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I noticed tracks from someone before me, so I knew its passable, and just went forward, but mud was really deep and I barely made it on the other side. It was tricky section since you would not guess its that wet and mud so deep. I also got some PVC bag wrapped on the rear hub.
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I removed plastic bag with a knife, jumped back on a bike when clutch wire sbroke again. ... Ufff problem. Fortunately, I did not lose the end pin somewhere in the mud, which was crafted by a mechanic the previous day in Croatia. I go down to the petrol station in Kupres and I take cover under the roof because it rained slightly. Used this time to repair and somehow re-install the clutch wire. I hope it will work. It is clear that this solution is not permanent and the question of time is how long it will last. I have to find more lasting solution, but it is already late in the afternoon and in Kupres I do not find any mechanic who would still be in the workshop. By that time it stoped raining, so I went further on a mountain near Kupres where there is ski center during winter.

Ski center is 1750 meters above sea level with a nice view towards Kupres, the ascent was quite long, the grass was slightly wet, so quite challenging ride to the top. Inertia was needed with loaded Tenere, because the last ascend to the top is long and headed direct to the slope. There was hidden stone somewhere and at the last moment showed the teeth, front end got almost direct hit and bike was pushed on the side and changed direction ... it got even more complicated, hands are already burning because it was so steep, if I stop I''ll have to go back down to get speed again... I do not want that. I barely made it to the top without stopping. Uhhh. Needed some time to get the feeling back in my hands. This was challenging. But would be probably much easier if it would not rain and the grass would be dry.


From the top - view towards Kupres:
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Track is taking you down the mountain on the other side towards Rama.
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And proceeding towards the lowland section, which, as already mentioned, is still above 1000 nm.
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Somewhere towards Rama.
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Rewarding arival to the Rama Lake.
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The storm caught me again. Since the weather forecast was very bad for the whole night, I found a place to sleep in a guesthouse by the lake. It was a good decision since there were heavy storms with winds for the whole night.

This day was very dynamic, I managed to cover a lot of ground taking into account technical problems with the clutch and the rain that intercepted me few times.
In did a total of 300 TET km that day and close to 90% of it was unpaved. I liked that day very much!

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Re: TET Balkans

Post by Ard » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:01 pm

Nice work ! Looking forward to go there one day !
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Re: TET Balkans

Post by fulviapaulo » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:06 am

Great work!!! Fantastic pictures and even more beautiful scenery!

I hope to go there sometime...
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