The Balkans Reloaded - #3

Mostar BIH – Foča – Kolasin MNE

Mostar BIH – Foča

The plan was to take it easy for the day but it ended being one the hardest days off-road I had; not necessarily the technicality of the track but just the exhausting distance. I climbed up the mountains of Mostar after doing some investigation of the oil leak. Nothing dramatic I figured, a bit leaking from the oil tubes, not too much to worry about. The day started great and was quite easy going mountain climbs. Had a little breakfast of superpowerfood and enjoyed some asphalt twisties until hitting the R443 taking me up the Planinica mountain plateau. Beautiful nature and trail riding heaven up over there! I really loved it! The trail up to Jezero I first skipped, but later decided to do it anyways climbing up from Ulog, as I just wanted to reach Foča for the day and I was quite "good in time" for that....I thought.

The trail down to Jelasca was easy riding gravel this time and I even whistled under my helmet. From there on I continued R434 towards Sipovica. It's just 35km to the next town I thought, easy...nah....the hiking route began easy into deep woods but technicality increased with mud, wet big rocks, quite steep slopes from time to time. The 30km with river crossing and snow passings (and little break) took me around two hours when I reached the "shall not pass" height of 1600m. All the time I had Borovno Brdo, the mountain, coming towards me. I could see the snow and just hoped the trail would be manageable. How naive! I had to stop just before reaching the peak. Just that last little bit! I mastered everything until here and now I had to stop?

I was really tempted to find a way down over the snow but it was just too risky for me being alone up there. I tried hard because I really didn't want to go retour this time – no way, I had to. So back the 30km, and 2 hours....I once crashed, just due to fatigue, bike took a little hit and I broke the speedometer, rider ok. In the next little town, I could reach, I was greeted from two KTM brothers that helped me zip tying the speedo and gave me advice how to reach Foča best from here. It was another hour of woods and gravel until I reached my day goal. Guess I have to do a break tomorrow and give some love to the pig and it's rider. My hands and brain are still shaking. Thinking about how to continue, the mountains are still snowy and it's a bet to ride them. This already kinda concludes TET Bosnia (12km left). Unfortunately I did not take pictures of the harder parts, I just didn't have the nerves. All in all I learned so much and I'm really grateful for this route and the intense work of the linesmen.

Foča BIH – Kolasin MNE

After two days of rest, exploring the area and fixing up bike and rider I continued my travels towards Montenegro. Short before the border I met up with some fellow enduro riders from Germany and Italy. When I finally found them on their camping place, we roughly planned our route while having a good cup of coffee. I was happy to have some company after having hard times wrestling solo through the trails. The landscapes once again changed. Snowy mountains embedded in green jungle, wild rivers and turquoise lakes. We made our way through a spectacular valley, hopped over various bridges and through dark tunnels. First time was quite scary and I could not go faster as near walking speed. I was wearing my goggles (coming into the tunnel) and the lighting of the XR cannot be called lighting at all. One’s like blind going into the tunnel and blind going out of the tunnel...but that’s what fellow riders are for right.

The plan for the day was to ride the Trans Euro Trail to, and probably through Durmitor National Park. The narrow roads and tunnels winded up the mountains towards the snow. I had a blast braaping up! We eventually reached a plateau on top and the scenery was just amazing, beautiful graslands surrounded by massive snowy mountains. We took a break and hardly could believe our luck. No human being, just us, fresh crisp air, some horses and sheep. The trails could not be identified anymore and we had to trust the GPX following over huge pastures.

We continued our way through the mountains, winding to higher altitude where the snow got more and more a problem. We battled through some of the snowfields but the situation did not improve. At around 1800m we had to return. On the way we met some 4x4 offroad friends who vainly tried to dynamite the snowfields.

The detour led us back 60km back through a beautiful valley. Although time was a constraint, fueling up and taking a break to let views sink in here and there was a must! Who knows if one ever comes back to this beautiful place of earth.

After hopping back on the Trans Euro Trail we conquered another mountain plateau. Steep, tight-winding gravel hiking trails up, made us sweat. After another break on top, I smelled petrol walking back to my bike. I looked closer and noticed fuel dabbling out the overflow hose of the carb. The tank was nearly empty, damn. I had this problem before. When riding through rough terrain on higher altitudes the carb would overflow . Good thing was that the trail-side repair was just carefully knocking the carb with my knife until the overflowing eventually stopped. The carb needed to be inspected and cleaned soonish.

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