Page 5 of 9

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:11 pm
by Don T
Serious cliffhanger! - eagerly awaiting the next installment :handgestures-thumbup:

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:36 am
by Ni3ous
... continuing day 6:

There was so much going on in my head. I did not want to witness a tragic event.

...old mand is already in the water, but he only folds his trousers up to his knees. :confusion-scratchheadblue:

The water was acctually only half meter deep in the entrance of the gorge, but it was cloudy in the way that it looked like it was very deep. So slowly we were progressing deeper in the canyon. He is in front of me, I follow him. The girls are still on the rock, panicing and looking around. We are approaching slowly and we are halfway towards girls, when we see from the other side, from the inside of the canyon the third girl, about 18 years old which is aproaching with her boyfrend. They hold hands and are returning to their little sisters. It turns out that the older girl had those scared little sisters in care, but she left them for too long when went deeper in canyon in a hidden spot with her boyfriend. Obviously they had too much fun and lost track of time. Meanwhile sisters started to panic because they thought they both drowned. Little girls needed quite some time to calm down.

Old man also figured out what really happened and looked at me over his shoulder ... I'm not sure what he meant. Perhaps he did not like the way how I pulled him out of his comfortable shade, but I would say that he was mostly relieved because he realized that this situation unfolded in the best possible way.

We turned around and went out of the canyon. We did not talk because we did not understand each other, and he did not seem very sociable.
The youngsters stayed inside the canyon and they were bathing. I think they were avoiding us, because the teenage couple was very clear what they caused.

Later I notice my beer can which I dropped earlier on the river bank. The tin landed nicely in a cold shallow water and there was still most of the beer in it! I was happy to grab it and finish it while sitting on the sun on the rock and dipping my feet in the water.

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Later I continue the way towards Gramsh, some 20 km to the south.

Than the section to Gjerbes follows approximately 16 km along the riverbed. In summer time there is usually water shallow enough to ride inside the riverbed for whole 16 km. The second option along the route is longer, but if you would like a more decent route, you should go completely around the Tomor Mountain, which takes some 60 km instead of 25 km of trails. I'm getting closer to Gramsh, but when I look at the riverbed, it seems to me that the riverbed is full of water. Definately too much for riding inside the river bed! :confusion-scratchheadblue:

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Quick stop at Gramsh, to re-supply in local shop.

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Boys are smiling, but I just wanted to make a photo of the funny police bike.

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When I leave Gramsh, I find that this great river is Lumi Devoll and the dry river bed should be about 5 km more to the south, so all ok - false alarm. The neighbour valley of the Tomor River is as I predicted dry enough to be passable. I took a descend to the riverbed and try to find best way to ride it. Soon I fall into the rhythm and beautifully fly across the terrain with many crossings through water.

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In fact, it was a lot of fun and refreshing in this hot summer day, so it did not bother me to ride across the water with speed, so water would spray all the way to the helmet.

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Mostly there were some traces where its best to take way, so it was really more fun than some kind of demanding task.
But this section is changing every year and during the year - depending the weather. So not always an easy task. That is the reason why there is a detour for this section available when you download TET Albania .gpx on www.transeurotrail.org. You can use detour early in the year or in rainy time of year when there is too much water or mud in the riverbed.

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They really simplified the construction here. They built the objects with the terrain! Found it quite funny.

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The trail is not clearly visible everywhere in this riverbed and rider needs to orientate a bit. You do not want to get out of the right direction, because you can quickly end up in deep mud or between large rocks and you might end up stuck easily.

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Late in the afternoon I am arriving to the little town of Gjerbes. I prefer to ride slowly through the villages and towns, partly to ride safe and be a good example and also if somebody greets me or waves me to stop, I usually do it. In addition, the ambience of the village square in the late afternoon sunlight impressed me and I was happy to stop and drink a beer with the locals, since they invited me to do so.

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Guido is trying to survive in this quite remote area with catering and lodging ...

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However, it takes at least 1 hour of trail riding to reach him no matter from what direction you come from. When I asked him if he can offer a dinner and he said that his mother could slaughter the chicken and prepare the meal, when I asked for a bed for the night, he said he would need an hour to clean the room, and show it to me only after.
He is not yet ready to live properly out of tourism, but also conditions are not quite good.
Rally Albania takes place annually here, and part of today's section is also running along the same route. However, Rally Albania is changing the route every year and is not always there.

I decided to continue the TET towards Corovode. It was still an hour before dark, which should have been enough time to reach Corovode by then.
After all these days in remote areas I wanted some comfort and a proper shower for a change. And pleasant abundant dinner in the restaurant as well.

However, I had to push on the trails for another hour, and the sun slowly went behind the horizon and offered beautiful views and sunset.

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When i arrived in Corovode I was impressed. Town is newly rebuilt on a high level. After all theese days in remote and underdeveloped areas one gets used of the lower standard really fast. So I felt the difference, the contrast even more when arrived in Corovode.
View from the hotel room to the city square:

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At the hotel restaurant I meet two Frenchmen with big enduros. We were happy to sit together for a dinner and we spent the rest of the evening sipping tea while talking about recent roadtrip adventures and exchanging experiences.

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This day was quite exhausting overall. The heat was present all the time.
In total I did 280 km of TET that day from which about 45 km was on asphalt.



Addition to that day:
Earlier thet day, before I reached canyon I met Polish couple, both on XT660, who were riding the oposite direction. I was happy to see some adventurers on a motorcycle after all this days. We all stopped. I explained to them about TET project, which at that point was not even officially launched yet.
We exchanged some ideas about the route and what not to miss.

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After TET launch Kasia found me via TET FB page and sent me this picture her boyfriend made that day.
It was a nice surprise!

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Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:28 am
by Ard
Nice one AGAIN Roman ! :handgestures-thumbup: :handgestures-thumbup: :handgestures-thumbup:

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:33 pm
by trunkenpolz
Thanks again roman!! how did you manage the money issues regarding all the different currencies? did you always change little amounts for a few days?

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:20 am
by Ni3ous
Easiest way is to go on first ATM when arriving in the country and get some money in local currency for paying food, drink and overnight stays. Than if I realize I am short on local money, I would pay with plastic when refueling. If I realize I have too much local currency than I pay fuel with cash also. Ussually that works fine on a way that I am not left with foreign currency when leaving the country.

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:09 pm
by vsaltao
Very nice report.

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:32 am
by Ni3ous
Day 7.

Corovode ...

As usual I'm early again and around 7 in the morning I'm already on the bike continuing towards the south of the TET Balkans section.

I am riding 12-14 hours a day for seven consecutive days now. I would not mind to ride 30-km of asphalt section to get a little rest. But I know that there will not be much asphalt in this part. There was another hot day in front of me, the sun was strong already from the morning.

A couple of kilometers out of the city I'm turning from asphalt to some old abandoned road, which apparently is not in use for a long time. The rocks are all over the place and I'm not sure if this was ever used with vehicles. I think this is just a goat's path. A few kilometres of struggle and careful driving over the rocks. It can be quite dangerous if you loose control and crash. Side of the bike can also quickly catch sharp rocks which can lead to some major damage such as a water pump leakage or hole in the engine case and loosing engine oil...True party stoppers.

Due to fatigue, I did not make any picture of this section of the path, for which I am sorry today. I did not even have the right energy for such a difficult trail right in the morning ... The goat path is connected to a more normal gravel road after some 5 km and again progress is better continuing through the hills.


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I take refreshing rest stop at the entrance of the Osumi River Canyon. Fresh air comes from the canyon and cools me down a bit. Then I discover a fine path and I decide to explore the canyon in the shade.

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No I did not go inside with the bike. Its not meant to be used with the vehicles and that should be respected.



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On the other side canyon opens again a bit wider.

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And back towards the entrance:

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The shade and cool air in the canyon made me feel better + I decide to bathe in fairly cold water. It was great feeling to pump the blood through the body and I was ready to ride again.

Towards the south TET leads past the beautiful lake where I have already slept through the night a few years ago with my enduro friends. Was hoping to spend the night here again in this idylic place but in was not even mid day when I arrived here, so I decide to continue.

Nevertheless I go down to the lake to soak-in the ambient.

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In this southern part of Albania road surface, geological composition of the soil and landscapes are getting different and unique.

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In the morning before I left Corovode, I forgot to re-fuel, and I was on reserve for 70 km already, so I need gasoline desperately... I check the maps and see that I'm approaching the regional road towards Tepelene. I hope that the gas station is also close. Luckily TET trail is leading me in the same direction...


Well it had to happen at least once on a such trip:

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Rear wheel started to wobble on the section where there is no shadow ... ufff changing the tube in the burning sun is not exactly my favourite thing to do.

At that point three adult Albanians with big heavy sledge hammers came out of the bushes. I have no idea what were they up to in the middle of nowhere. I stop them and ask to help me to lift the bike to insert few rocks beneath. Than one of them climbs above the rock and starts to swing with sledge hammer... He thought I wanted him to show me how this tool works, which he holds in his hand. :D
Once again I explain (mostly with my hands) what I need and show them my flat tire. When they realized what I need, they helped me immediately.

It was a quick fix from that point on:

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Flat one out, spare one in:

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15 minutes in the job and already filling air with my integrated compressor under the seat. I even installed an aircraft on/off switch on the dashboard.
Really neat solution which helped me and my friends countless times out in the field.

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Assembling it back together:

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The repair took me only about 20 minutes.
It pays off to change tires and tubes on your own also at home and not at tire repair shop. This way you get to practice with the tools and procedures and such job in the field becomes an easy fix if/when needed.

After some 5-10 km I get on the asphalt road and soon I'm happy to pay for the fuel and continue on the TET trail.

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:52 pm
by indarktm
Thanks for your detailed report. This summer Ill be there. ;-)

Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:13 pm
by indarktm
Ni3ous wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:15 pm

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.


I sleep there with my wife in 2010, very quite after a good swing in the lake. :-)

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Re: TET Balkans

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:33 pm
by Ori
Amazing chronicle! I would love that the weather at spring would let me do all this mountain passes!