Horses and Hunger 18/09

This morning we awoke at our horse-infested campsite after a good sleep despite the howling dogs and wandering equines throughout the night. We found out the wifi was suddenly magically working and quickly pulled up a route profile for the day ahead. It was gonna be a steep one. We would start with a climb. Then climb a little more before there was another climb. Then a lovely downhill into Mostar. Unfortunately for us no one has yet developed the “How Shit is This Road” App and so we must rely on Google Maps to be kind and point out the paths versus the roads. But it doesn’t always play ball. Noodles safely in bellies, we hit the road, we were a little later starting than we would have hoped but that’s just the way some mornings go. After leaving the Lake Boračko road, we were greeted by the most fearful of road signs. The ones that tell you how steep the road ahead is going to be. Ten percent over 3km. Not too bad really 0. We knew that we could definitely handle that. So off we pedalled, getting ever higher over the lake, the view impressed us more and more. Then we came to our turn off. It was tarmac for about 50m, then gravel. However, beggars can’t be choosers so we decided to enjoy the ride and headed up around the steep valleys encircling the lake. Small patches of surfaced road gave light relief for a short time, but it wasn’t to be. The sounds of chainsaws and trees crashing to the ground soon alerted us to the fact that we were cycling along what is primarily a logging track. As we rounded one corner, there was a truck completely blocking the track as he strained to pull a log up the steep mountainside. I’m pretty sure this guy is going to come to an unfortunate end some day, although I obviously hope not. As he manoeuvred Austin Powers stye slowly back and forth with the engine whining, he appeared to be relying on the strength of one tiny sapling to stop him from slipping over the edge and into oblivion. Last we saw of him, he was still alive and well as we continued on our way. As we pushed on, the surface became more rocky and bumpy yet the view became more increasingly dramatic and beautiful. As the day wore on, the tough road began to take it’s toll, we were still gaining altitude, but our limbs were starting to ache and a lack of supplies was leaving us ravenous. As we left our small track we joined the main road. Or at least what was meant to be a more substantial road, it wasn’t though, was it!? The scenery at this stage had morphed once again and for all the whinging I might have done, it certainly eases the pain when you look around and find ypurself surrounded by dramatic mountains and valleys. However, as a wise man once said “You can’t ate the view”. We sat down for our wildly extravagant meal of half an orange, half and apple, an energy tablet and t Bosnian equivalent to kitkat each. With our bellies marginally less empty than they had been, we set off again. The road surface just seemed to get worse and worse. For someone with all the balance of a new born giraffe, this can take it’s toll. I spend a lot of time skidding around the loose gravel and shouting weird strings of profanities.Just down from where we had eaten “lunch” we had seen a digger. The guy working in it reluctantly let us past and we continued on to more compacted gravel where he had been driving. It almost felt luxuxrious! And then…… Holy Christ on a Bicycle, it was both ridiculous and absurdly welcome, there was a big wide newly laid road complete with safety barriers. We couldn’t believe our luck. We had been struggling down this path not fit for a donkey and then suddenly, a big, smooth open road. Oh how we smiled and laughed. Until it ended just as abruptly as it had started at a road nearly worse than the previous  one. We scratched our heads, what was the point of it?! With a bit of directional advice from a local man, we continued on our way. At this stage, our progress across gravel and track had been achingly slow. We knew we had another 300m climb to go and if the gravel was to continue, we would never make it to Mostar before dark. With no shops and no water source in sight, we simply didn’t have a choice. At this stage, I may possibly have suggested to Sam that we stop the next logging truck to pass and beg them for a lift! As we began our last climb, things slowly began to improve. First, compacted ground, then slowly, the odd patch of tarmacadam, and then (I nearly kissed it) a proper road with lines and everything. As we laughed our way up this paved beauty, things began to look promising. We reached the top and found oursleves looking at our 20km downhill to Mostar. We would be dropping 1000m over a series of fun looking switchbacks. We hit it with relish. I’m pretty sure of two things. Firstly, that I’ve never gone so fast while cycling and secondly that I have never overtaken anything except for a parked car on my bike before. I over took a truck. Twice! It was great craic and nothing beats zooming down a mountainside when you’ve spent most of the day climbing up it. You really feel like you’ve earned the adrenalin rush. As we arrived ino Mostar, we began to keep an eye out for accommodation and eventually ended up in a small hotel above a pizzeria, a dangerous prospect. We have sipped our ice cold beer, reflected on our difficult but exhilarating day and will sleep well tonight!!

 

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