Day 20 – Tirana to Pogradec

Today was hard, despite being slightly shorter. I’m afraid I’m pretty tired so this may be fairly brief..

This morning started off quite well. The weather was good and the traffic was nowhere near as bad as last night. The drivers that were out were still a bit mad but I managed to avoid any trouble.

After leaving Tirana, I was once again cycling through villages and not long after, I hit the first climb which turned out to be quite interesting. About half way up I met another guy cycle touring which is something I had not expected. We stopped for a brief chat – I’ve completely forgotten his name but he was Norwegian and said that he’d had snow in Greece… Where I’m heading for the next few days. About this time, I was also thinking to myself that Albanian dogs were nicer than Montenegrin dogs… I quickly changed my mind. Twice on that climb I was chased by a pack of them and it was not fun.

At the top of the climb I was greeted by a pretty spectacular view.. which was nice, as whilst Albania has been very interesting to look at, it hasn’t been particularly scenic.

After the descent, I got my first puncture of the trip. 3000km isn’t bad going but there was genuinely a part of me that really thought I could manage the whole thing. What’s more annoying is that this one probably could’ve been avoided. Once again I was forced towards a huge pothole but couldn’t quite clear the whole thing when I jumped. Stopping to repair the puncture drew a small audience and one woman even went to get a plastic chair to sit in and watch me.

The next 60 kilometres were pretty much one long climb and after the puncture I decided I didn’t want to stop until the top. I didn’t need to do this, I just felt like there was nothing to be gained from resting when I could eat and ride at the same time (something I haven’t been able to do that often because I’ve always had thick gloves on).

The final part of the climb was really quite steep so it was good to get over it. It also meant to today is the most climbing I’ve done so far. Oh and I got chased by dogs again which pissed me off a bit.

I’ve heard Lake Ohrid is a must-see, so I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately – whilst the view was still good – the clouds had closed in a bit so it wasn’t anything that special.

After a short descent, the final 20 kilometres looked set to be the first bit of flat I’ve had without a headwind in almost a week. It was great, I was flying along, looking forward to finishing a tough but good day. My mood was starting to recover from the dogs but then Albania ran out of tarmac. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in my life (that may be a slight exaggeration). It wasn’t just a regular dirt road either, there were holes everywhere and even the cars were barely going faster than me. I spent the whole time muttering abuse at the country and praying I didn’t get another puncture.

I’m shattered now and honestly my mood isn’t great either. Looking forward to a slightly shorter day tomorrow…

Distance: 89.57miles / 144.1km
Riding Time: 7:24:36
Av. Speed: 12.1mph / 19.4kph
Elevation Gain: 1923m

P.S: Dear Chris, I apologise that the writing isn’t up to your lofty standards. Perhaps you’d like to join me and write it instead..? 🙂

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7 comments

  1. Dear Chris – just give a call and we can book your flight out tomorrow if you want. Will you bring a bike or shall we hire you one at the other end ?
    A

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  2. Tom, look at it this way, you have travelled a fair old distance again, taking on the challenges that unveil, what have most of us done, absolutely jacking tiddlywink, other than a few beers and now heading for bed, good on ya matey, take care and look forward to meeting up at some point. Cheers Fraser

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  3. Hi Tom. Thoroughly enjoying your blogs, amazing that you have the energy to record anything after the effort you’re putting in each day! Glad you enjoyed Croatia, it’s become our summer holiday spot for the last three years, definitely find time to revisit at a more leisurely pace in the future. Will be using your journey as the basis of my assembly this week – geography, history and general life skills abound – great lessons for our young charges to learn from!
    Stay safe mate, MP

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