Day 17, July 29 (195km) -Tale of Two Days

Trip Start Jul 13, 2012
1
18
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Trip End Aug 16, 2012


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Flag of Serbia  ,
Sunday, July 29, 2012

My first of travel into Serbia will never be forgotten (bar Alzheimer's kicking in). 

The day started off nice if not a bit on the warm side. The rest of the ride through Croatia was fairly uneventful. By the time I reached the Serbian border it was 11:00a.m. and I was making really good time. Just before I reached the border I stopped in a small gas station to get some some more fluids. Not too many as it is difficult to carry. and like all borders I will just find a bank machine or at least a gas station that accepts visa and get more. WRONG!

As I approach the first border check point. The very serious border guard looks at the video camera on my helmet and says "Camera Off!". I fiddle with the camera and then say it is off...it is not off of course. After awhile he lets me through. The first thing is a winding hill to great me in Serbia. After about a kilometer there is a sign saying you are in Serbia. Picture taken I keep heading up the hill. Only to realize after another kilometer there is another border point. This time I did not tempt fate and keep the camera on. One of  guards asks me what the camera is for. "Now is not the time to be sarcastic Duane." "To take pictures of my journey of course".

Once through it became clear that Serbia is not as modernized as Croatia. The road was barely passable as paved. A road to a border crossing. Next thing I noticed that there is no gas station. In fact there is nothing only farm land. At this point the sun is blistering hot and there are no clouds to give me a break. I am glad I drank before the border as these hills are taking a toll. I will just stop in the next town.

Problem - the next town is no where to be found. In fact I only see about a 1/2 dozen cars and a couple tractors for the first 38km. The heat is getting to me the hills are getting harder and where the hell is a town?!? Just as I come across a couple clustering of houses I enter 
Fruška Gora National Park. How nice, except it is one big ass mountain. Plus the mountain is not just steep it is a series of sharp inclines with short decline and continued by sharp incline. Over and over. I sucked all my energy plus I was now almost out of water and only half way up the mountain. By the time I get near the top I am completely out of water and parched. As I head down the steep decline I struggle to keep control of the bike as the road is terrible and some spots become dangerous. I forgot to mention all the roads in Serbia up to this point were horrible. I finally start to see people as the picnic in the area, and finally I can see Novi Sad in the distance. Civilization?!? I reach a valley between two peaks and at a cross roads there are some restaurants. They don't take visa and the gas station looks closed. I was about to ask a cook to fill my water bottle, as now I was actually dizzy from lack of water. He said the gas station was open. Armed with my Visa I went in and bought 4 1/2 liters of drinks. 

I sat down at what I think was a bus stop but if you weigh the evidence was more likely  washroom. Just as I sat down to hydrate myself and take a break from the sun a storm started brewing and the wind picked up. The second I started to drink the first raindrops fell. Motherf*&^er where was the rain when I was crashed on side of the mountain dying from the heat?

Time to keep going - rain or no rain. I was quicker hitting the next peak and then it was mostly downhill for next 20km- very steep decline in hard rain. The rain started pouring like crazy and soon enormous cracks of thunder and a multitude of lightning bolts and the ride became more dangerous. A park once only scattered with life the roads were jammed with cars as they fled for their lives. 

After 30 minutes and waiting for a break in the storm the opposite happened. it was not even 5:00p.m. but the sky turned almost black and it seem like it was dusk. I kept on through the driving rain and flashing sky until the winds picked up so much I almost was blown off  the side the road. The rain was coming sideways and so strong it was hurting my eyes. I had to take shelter in a bush behind a tree. I was still getting soaked but at least it was not hurting and I was not getting blown off my feet.  Once it turned into only a tropical storm I had no choice but to keep going. I now had my headlight and rear lights on so the cars that were actually still on road could see me.

I continued for another hour without a break in the storm and it was getting very dangerous as many cars that went by had very steamed up windows and I doubt they could see much. I was still 40 km from my destination when the winds picked up again with gusts around 90km/hour. I had to stop again. I went into a gas station and got some food - I left a huge trail of water everywhere I went. By now the time of being exhausted from the heat was a distant memory as I was actually shivering from the cold. It was getting darker- I expected nightfall around 9:00 but in Belgrade it was not too long after 8:00. Damn!

The last 40km were among the most dangerous thing I have ever done in my life. As the rain let up a bit the darkest set in. Many drivers do not like bikers in Serbia and very few like it when you bike on the small highway in the dark when it is wet. I had several come close to hitting me and a few trucks/buses splash me so hard it almost knocked me off the bike. I kept thinking if I hit a serious pothole in one of the puddles I was going to fall into the highway and that would be it.

I finally made it to Belgrade at 9:30 and the GPS brought me to some weird dark residential area. It seems I was lost. Great thing is I have names of  streets on GPS in Latin alphabet but they use Cyrillic. After walking a bit it started to pour again - Yay! My limited knowledge of Russian from being there on my honeymoon 3 years ago helped as I realized I was on the right street just on the opposite end.

I finally make it to the 12 Monkeys hostel. Completely soaked - but my stuff was more or less completely dry. The shower was long as I needed to get all the oil and grit from the wet road off me. My adventure in Serbia has begun. Tomorrow a day off from biking. 

I hope to post video I took of the storm while biking once I get back to Ottawa.
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cat on

Reading your blog every time you update. Really like it!

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