Saturday, 22 July 2017

Trans Euro Trail - Montenegro - Savnik to Medurijecje and back again!

20 – 21nd July 2017

We made a visit to Kolasin, but there was not much there so we headed upto Biogradska Lake, which is a bit of tourist spot with coaches, row boats etc, pretty, but not for us really. After this we had sessions of fixing van brakes at a brilliant garage in Niksic as they had worn out on the steep roads and the torsion bar which we broke in Albania after too many dirt roads! .

We missed out the bit of the TET, Opsanica to E80.

22nd July 2017

After a frustrating start with camera malfunctions and usual electronics fun, we still managed to get away by 7.30am. We had camped the night near Mokro a few miles out of Savnik and as we headed down a local road to get to the TET, we could see the mist in the valley over Savnik. Our route to get us to the TET was interesting on a washed out old road that looked like it didn’t get much use any more. I had an issue get over a little rock step with the low tread on my bike tyre not helping and Steve had a moment with a wet log.

As we wound our way down into a little village and headed back up into the mountains we both seemed to settle into our riding and just enjoyed the view. Steve commented that it was a bit like being in the Dales – only bigger with hardly anyone else around except local farmers.

We joined the route between Strug and Bijela and then it was just miles of wonderful riding. We started on gravel road but then soon headed onto grass track that took us through homesteads and into the most stunning limestone valley. The farmers were friendly and waved and smiled as they went about their work bringing in their hay. The  route was hard to follow in some places where the grass had been cut and the track had changed slightly but we soon found our way again without too many issues. 

After passing by a pretty church and a very cute chapel built into the rock we decided to make a small detour to Kapetanovo Lake. As you head up the small dirt road you come round a corner and are met with the most magical view. The lake itself is stunning and the place has a feeling of calm about it. We stopped at the little café there for a proper cowboy coffee – that would keep me wired for the rest of the day!

Back on the TET we wound our way down a small rocky road under more limestone crags. The track widened out and we had views of a huge gorge on our right as we climbed up again and down towards where the TET joins the main road between Savnik and Podgorica.

Steve had put together a return route following local roads – I was happy just to return on the TET route but it did make sense to do a loop if we could. We climbed again out of the valley on a perfect little tarmac road. It did have some rough bits but it amazed with its steepness and its twists and turns. It was great fun and meant we gained a lot of height quickly. As usual the tarmac ended and we climbed on a dirt track that took us up into the forest. It really felt like we were heading into the wilderness but then just as I started to feel a bit unsure a bit of tarmac would appear or a hay tuck carrying a massive load would appear around a corner. There are plenty of old trucks on these roads used by locals for farming and if they can do it then so can I on my little dirt bike!

Near the top of our climb, I came around a corner and Steve had stopped – a local had waved him done and invited us in for coffee. Our new friend was from Podgorica and he came up to his little hut at weekends. He was with his 2 nephews who kindly made us some juice and another cup of blow your head off coffee! We got out our ham and cheese and shared a bit of food while trying to have a bit of a conversation – helped along with photos. The hut was great and very simple with a great burner outside and a sleeping platform upstairs. The wall was lined with shotguns used for shooting deer and boar. We thanked our friends and set off again on our journey.

The continues to wind our way through forest and ended up riding through a ghostly area of dead trees. As we started to descend we ended up at a huge limestone quarryand we followed the quarry roads for a while before turning north and back through more forest. Eventually we ended up back on the open plateau of the farms above Savnik. We both love this area having driven and ridden through it now. More friendly waves and smiles as we left the farms behind and wound our way back to our campsite.

After a bit of bike maintenance I went in search of cold beer and went to “chat” to our campsite host a lovely old man of about 70.  We managed to piece together a bit of a conversation and he told us he prefers it here in the mountains as it is much cooler than the city. We don’t mind the language barrier as we have had a great time with the lovely people of Montenegro but it is frustrating at times. We have met some kind, friendly and interesting folk who we would love to share tales with but we just don’t speak the language. We have however shared coffee and food and hugs and smiles which sometimes doesn’t need words.

Today has been one of the best days riding for me (except of course in Romania!!), the trails were straight forward and the scenery was just stunning. What a beautiful country Montenegro is.