Day 17, July 29 (195km) -Tale of Two Days
Trip Start Jul 13, 2012
35Trip End Aug 16, 2012
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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
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 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
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
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.