The Balkans Reloaded - #2

Šipovo – Mostar

I feel alive, so alive!

Totally exhausted, it was even hard to type this. I started in foggy and cold Šipovo and made my way to Kupres via Glamoc. An easy going morning ride towards the breakfast stop, nothing too technical and good for warming up. Arriving in Kupres I had a little coffee and banana (The Enduristan bottle holster are a perfect way to carry bananas) breakfast and also gave the Big Red Pig some good petrol fill up, before I hit the further trails. The weather was great these days, crisp, clear air at around 12°C and the sun was shining. I went up the ski piste to Stožer mountain up to the peak at 1760m. Pretty technical and steep! I giggled a thousand times under my helmet how well this bike handles everything and how grateful I am, I decided not to take the Africa Twin. There would have been no way to take this heavy bike up the ski piste solo!

I had to scout myself a way down the peak, due to quite deep snow over the trails. The shady north routes were still covered. Glad I made it. The following hours was pretty gravely trails through beautiful landscape. Here and there I had to escape from dogs, they can easily make 50km/h (later more on that). Short before I finished the climb down I did a break and when I wanted to move on the XR refused to start. The carb was overflowing due to heavier offroad that let the bike shake. I was exhausted trying to kick the bike. This was the first time I experienced this kind of issue with the bike. I pushed it over a little hill downwards the trail and eventually it started. Pheww! Climbing up and down some other hills until I reached Ramsko Jezero. A wonderful view over the lake! There was a nice camping spot directly at the lake and I was thinking put up my tent there. It was not too late in the day and I still wanted to ride.....I should have called it a day though.

After hitting some asphalt twisties, and man did I enjoy them, never ending no man’s land began and I started to feel tired and exhausted. Another obligatory mountain climb up to Velika Vlajina and I could relax on a few hundred meters of straight tarmac road, before I entered National Park Blidinje.

Quite rocky tracks, and full concentration needed, I ended up on some private ranch that the track touches. I immediately was chased by four or five big dogs and I got lost on the private land. Bumped over huge rocks at higher speed trying to get rid of the dogs and find my way out. No chance. I then accidentally jumped over a cliff into steep slope and landed on big rocks, I do not know how I managed not to crash, the dogs territory ended luckily above the cliff and they didn't come after me. I was kinda stuck now sitting down there and had to manage a way out. I eventually made it out and took a longer pause soaking up the nature. The landscape reminded me of Yukon.

At the end of the day the day the XR rolled me into Mostar like a horse would do with a corps. Tomorrow I'll take a break and investigate the oil leak on the bike, tyres are already looking pretty worn.

I want to stress out here that this all can end pretty seriously. It's quite remote tracks. I’m not a pro but I would recommend everyone to not do, repeat not to do this with a heavy loaded 1000cc bike except you're Chris Birch and have a GPS tracker!

Adventure out.

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