Tirana (Albania) to Bitola (Macedonia)
Start 06:30am End 07:30pm– 13hrs ride time including breaks
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. https://triduffer.wordpress.com/
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.