Tuesday, 27 August 2013

like ships in the night

As one of Gayle's favourite country songs goes - it's lonely in the saddle......since the horse died.  So it's nice to meet folk along the way.  On the day we leave Ohrid we cycle southwards along the east side of the lake, past all the large hotels and sun-lounger beaches, through a couple of small villages and up to a point where Albania looms out of the heat haze and into view on the other side. The road we take turns upwards away from the lake and climbs slowly and comfortably/cruelly* (*delete as applicable) up the mountainside.  According to the laws of nature as you ascend the views get better - this is no exception.  The road tops out at a cleft in the ridgeline running the length of the lake.  We have emerged into a windswept valley of dry grass and dwarf trees with views of the peaks on the ridge and across Lake Prespa over the other side.  It looks like a lovely spot to camp so after lunch we don't move on.  

cool camping at 1500 metres

In a while a campervan pulls up and we meet Jerome, Justine and their daughters Elia and Salome. They too are looking for a camp spot so together we pull into a small dip off the road and make camp for the evening.  The family are having a six-month adventure around eastern Europe.  They'd got to Istanbul and are now en route for home.  We pass a sociable evening in our little patch of wilderness, chattering away and complaining about the cold, for yes dear reader, c'est vraiment froid.

jolly campers

After a good night's sleep in cooler climes we say our farewells and go our separate ways. We begin the big freewheel down to Lake Prespa but pull up after about 5km when Gayle's back tyre bursts.  Not the tyre, the tube.  The rim is hot, a brake pad is rubbing when it shouldn't, but the cause of the flat is the old rim tape problem again.  My magic hands have failed to get the tape right into the groove of the rim.  So off comes the luggage and the wheel and off with the tyre for a little roadside repair.  And so here we are on a bend of a mountain road with hardly any traffic when up cycles Daniel.  He stops to greet us and Gayle asks where he's from.  She doesn't hear the Yorkshire accent - too long on the road.  Daniel started his ride in Cyprus about 7 weeks ago.  Inspirationally he bought himself the cheapest mountain bike from Decathlon and set off on his first cycle tour.  He is only the second English cycle tourist we have met in our journey so we talked and talked and talked.  It's sod's law that we are going in opposite directions.  Although with Daniel it is hard to tell exactly which direction he's going in.  He's like a kid in a sweetie shop when he unfolds his map of the Balkans.  Where next?  His enthusiasm and his obvious pleasure at discovering the freedom of being on the road is infectious.  Here is a very happy man and his talk of Turkey gets us looking forward in both senses.  Finally, though, we have to move on. 

John and Daniel in team colours

1 comment:

  1. Not just Daniel and john, but I see Jerome seems to be sporting the same colour?