Day 13 – Out of Albania, onto Macedonia

Tirana (Albania) to Bitola (Macedonia)
Start 06:30am End 07:30pm– 13hrs ride time including breaks
220k ridden
3000m climbing

day 13

I escaped Albania, bit it took some effort

12 hrs riding, for just 220k, but with over 3000m climbing.  A constant easterly head wind all day (seems every time I head east its a headwind) just sapped all effort till about 3 in the afternoon

Central Tirana was lovely and quiet (at 7am)- its just the roads in/out that are manic.
Then I reach the Elbassan expressway (a dual carriagway) – with a pair of 5k tunnels that go downhill under a mountain.  Each direction has 2 lanes, but traffic can use only one, with the other reserved for emergency vehicles, and apparently bikes can use this.  I see a policeman waving at me, and I roll over to him to confirm all is ok.
he says no.
I insist that bikes can use the emergency lane
he says no

I turn around and spend the next 90 minutes climbing up and over the 20k route.  Its actually lovely, and I see 4 cars the whole way

Albania was not so bad today.  The obsessive Balkan love of car washing notches up a gear, with the final town (just before the final climb) taking the biscuit.  Every 50 yards, another hand car wash, with a hose pipe spaying water advertising their services.  30 car washes up the street – madness

I used what currency I could buying fruit, softdrinks, then a chicken dinner just before the border.

Over the border and into Macedonia, (a suburb of Greece).  It feels a lot different


Most importantly, on the way, I bumped into the tcr legend that is Christopher Bennett.
He had already cycled from Istanbul to Flanders, and was now doing the event going back the other way

I hit a hotel, he was riding through the night  – Legend
After a bit more climbing, up a couple of 500m climbs and super fast descents over some really rubbish roads, I rolled into Bitola.  I found wifi at a hotel – they have no room but they direct me to a hotel near by

I found this day tough.  Climbing out of Albania, into a head wind sucked the life out of me.  I could / should have ridden on, but Chris mentioned there was nothing for 50/60k after the border.  I needed a rest so it was a good decision to stop.

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