A bloody long day in the saddle – 120km plus some – my garmin auto-pauses under 3km, and I spent around an hour pushing the bike with it paused. But – the sorest part of me is my face – endless grinning when I’m usually a grumpy bastard has given my face muscles some unusual exercise….
Permet’s pub had no heating – I slept under a doona and three blankets, and woke to an icy room. 0C outside; I couldn’t be arsed getting a shower, so rugged up warm, ate my apple and banana saved from Bourazani, and hit the road.
Face frozen, fingers numb, and the miserable track they call a road hereabouts has potholes you could hide in. In fact, it has potholes inside potholes. Cars, trucks and buses struggled to move much faster than me. The car of choice here, btw, is an elderly mercedes; their equivalent of our Commodore.
A lot of climbing, and dropping like a stone to the river’s edge, then climb again. I kept a steady, but slow pace, admiring the view, flexing my fingers to try and keep some feeling in them. Lots of little cluster of people here and there, waiting for a bus or other transport, usually huddled around an oil drum burning wood. I always got a friendly greeting, too.
At Kelcyre, the next village with more than 10 houses, the road turned West, following the Vjose river. The sun was well up- I’d made about 20km, averaging about 10kmph – and feeling had returned to my fingers. The next 10 km were a glory; I rarely touched the pedals, as the road and the river descended fairly rapidly. After another 5km along the river flats, I joined the road I’d missed two days back; the SH4, and turned North towards Fier, some 80k away.
I’d never intended to cycle to Fier; 120km days are a bit more than I like doing, but…Memaliaj has no hotels. I grabbed lunch at a roadside tavern.
Nor did Ballsh, Visok or Patos. The road was broad and flat, with a major exception about 30 Km short of Fier, where I cycled uphill until my legs couldn’t do more, then pushed for around an hour to a crest; Then I had around 15 km of glorious downhill, before the road levelled, and I rolled along, keeping an eye out for hotels; no luck.
The road from Levan into Fier, about 6 km, is a narrow nightmare – busy with trucks and buses heading South,North and Northwest towards the ferry ports I was pretty weary too, but plugged along. Traffic was, as ever, courteous; they are used to donkeys being ridden along the road’s edge, or cows being led along, or the myriad mopeds that don’t move much faster than I do. I found the Internacional Hotel, booked in, showered and fell asleep. A big day.
Here are some snaps I took along the way.
The road out of Permet. Stunning views, bastard climbs.
Cue the Rolling Stones…
See you down the road.