Published: August 13th 2006
August 22nd 2006
Hot on the Moon
10 years ago, before I started to overload cycling with all my ecological & social principles, I was used to define cyclism merely as “school for dreams”.
Mighty Leni Kravitz used to sind “if you want it, you got it - you’ve just gotta believe”. Very nice, but no matter how much you believe you would be the next president of the US, or the best basketball player in the world, that won’t happen. In the case of bike, however, dreams are indeed fulfilled - and you don’t have even to believe. All you have to do is to move your legs many times up and down.
My first large fulfilled dream was the summit of the Tavor mountain in Israel - just 500m elevation, piece of cake in my current terms. It was followed by many other fulfilled dreams; the exact number is at least 7, as this is my 7th trip abroad with the bike. "Hot on the moon" is a beautiful song by Bary Sacharof, whose words are: "shall we build together a school for dreams"
The Black Mountain
Montenegro became a dream 3 years ago, when I cycled in Croatia. On my last
day there, I arrived to the southmost corner of Croatia. On my left, I saw amzing black mountains - and only then I realized the meaning of the name “Monte Negro” - the black mountain.
Later on I read & heard about Montenegro much more, and then it became clear - I must arrive there one day.
During my travel in Croatia, after a few days of tough cycling & hiking, I decided to take a day of relax - and joined a touristic boat tour.
With me on the boat there was a large group of old French women. What was, in my terms, a day of relax, was for them an exhaustive tiring day, and they were full of complains.
The guide was a very sweet girl. She was a real MultiMedia: she not only explained us about the sites on the way, but also served the meals, cleaned after and handled all the requests and complains of these spoiled asshole French without losing her good mood and natural smile.
When we were together in a quiet corner, we talked a little, and I found out that she is not only sweet and diligent, but also intelligent.
On the airplane to Dubrovnik, where I started my current trip, I saw a flier of a touristic horse riding farm. In the flier was a large picture of an amazingly cute girl riding a horse - yes, you guessed right - the guide from the boat trip. So she switched her job.
As I realized that the farm was only 3 kms off the road I was anyway planning to ride, I decided to try to look for her.
At the farm I found only the owner. I showed him the flier, and asked about the girl in the picture. No, he said, she doesn't really work here. She just was here once, and he took her picture, and all he knows about her is that her name is Christina. Only after I came back to home I had a look in my old "analog" photo albooms, where I put a picture of the sweet girl from the boat tour. And... well, it's not the same girl. Maybe the picture of Christina reminded me some other girl, and maybe I just like her view. But it's not the girl I met in Croatia 3 years ago. Sorry for destroying the nice story...
Left from the airport
Dedicated learner-traveller as I am, usually I know the destination better than the locals. However, this time I decided to fly only 2 days in advance, and even in that short time, I found no guidbook to Montenegro in the bookstores, and my internet connection failed. Thus, while landing in Dubrovnik, the only practical knowledge I had about Montenegro was that I should take the left turn when riding out of Dubrovnik's airport (which I knew from my travel in Croatia, some 3 years ago).
To some extent, travelling without a guidebook was a refreshing experience. Rather than learning the language from a book and finding the places within the towns by maps, I had to use the more "natural" ways, such as talking with the locals, ask dierctions, read signs etc. As this is already my 4th visit to the Balkan, I quite fast recollected some basic Serbic vocabulary. Anyway, on the 3rd day of my trip I arrived to Podgorica, where I bought a guidbook, and returned to be the "academic" traveller I'm usually.
Due to my lack of knowledge about Montenegro during the 3 first days, my trip's plan
was actually merely a very crude estimate. I knew that I should arrive from Kotor, on the sea shore, to Podgorica, the capital. The map showed a that it's possible to bypass the "main road" by riding through a national park, and that "on the way" it's possible to climb the highest peak in this park - 1750 meters above sea level (I remind you, that the way starts on the sea shore). A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and I indeed took the way through the park AND climbed to the peak. Only later I learnt that this park, Lovchen, is among the most popular destinations in Montenegro, though in my opinion it doesn't justify its reputation - at least not in terms of natural beauty (it has also some historical importance). But that's a part of the work - you can't just leave a peak on the way without climbing it. Sometimes the views from above are great, and sometimes they are so-so. That's a part of the "professional risk".
Seen one, seen all
The ascending through the dense forest; the height where the plants become bushes, and later - only grassy meadows; the heights
Peak at Durmitor National Park
"all the mountains in the world are the same"? - see entry "Seen one, seen all.
where the only flora is low heights' plants; the final climb on the rocky mountains; the sudden cool on the summit.
To some extent, all the mountains in the world are the same. But still, I wanna know each one of them personally. I won't finish this task at my lifetime, but at least I try as much as I can.
הדרך היפה לשמורת דורמיטור שעוברת דרך פודוגריצה, היא דרך קשה ביותר לנסיעה, ארוכה מאוד, לנו לקחה כ-10 שעות עם שעת עצירה!!!! עם נסיעה של 40 קמ''ש ב-90% מהדרך. מדובר בדרך עם פיתולים אינסופיים בהרים, בחלק מהדרך אין מעקות ביטחון ובמשך שעות לא ראינו נפש חיה על הכביש. אומנם מדובר בדרך יפהפיה שכמוה לא ראיתי רבות, אולם הנסיעה מתישה, קשה לנהיגה ועד שמגיעים לזביליאק מוציאים את הנשמה בדרך,
(from "Lametayel" site).
Now U probably think that I'm gonna lough of these jerks spoiled drivers, for whom it's hard to drive
the ways in which I ride
. Well, U R wrong: surprisingly I totally agree with this guy. Also for me, being a passanger in a motorized vehicle in twisted mountainous road is very hard. Not only that I'm very sensitive, and easily get nausea from such
Twisted mountainous roads
View from Dobri Do saddle, Durmitor National Park
ways, but also, in the kind of countries where I travel, usually the driving style is very wild, the bus is full of smokers and the windows are closed, with no air condition.
But, saying the truth, the main thing which causes me nausea while being on a bus during a bike travel is that I torture myself with the same question you probably ask: why the fuck I use a bus during a bike tour.
To that question there may be only one good answer: sometimes I find the road too dangerous for cycling. But that's a bad excuse, as usually a dedicated traveller can find alternative, quieter roads. And indeed, in Montenegro I only once used the train, from Pogrodica, and did the rest of the way, including to and from the airport, only by bike.
My being a touring cyclist is surely a kind of a mirracle - well, I don't believe in God, so let's call it "winning of the will power" (or, of the wheel
power...). My technical skills suck and my coordination is terrible, so I hardly succeed to ride in technique ways, neither to fix my bike when needed. As said above,
I'm also very weak, and very easily get terrible nauseas when travelling by buses. There's only thing I do well: moving my legs up & down many many times. Oh, yes, and re-writing again and again the same stories, and taking identical pictures, but each time from a different part of the world.
What is the difference between the beginning of the day ride and its end?
At the beginning, locals whom I ask for the way don't believe that I would arrive so far by bike in one day; at the end, locals don't believe when I tell them, in reply to their question, where did I start from today. Travel date: Aug-2006 Old Kato
There are more photos below