Day 16 - Gyavato to Stobi: Riding at night - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

January 31, 2015

Day 16 - Gyavato to Stobi: Riding at night

I woke up to a view of snow-capped mountains, the rain having moved on for a bit, but the clouds promised more.

I was told that the mother had always wanted a daughter. When she said something about me marrying one of her sons, that wasn't translated for me and I pretended I didn't understand. Her sons were unmarried because there's a dire shortage of women in that village. So that explained the ridiculously uncomfortable touching and cheek-kissing.

One of the sons offered to accompany me along the road I wanted to take, saying there were old mines and archaeological sites. (As a side note, if you find yourself there, hire a villager to show you those sites.) He would act as a guide and a protector, because there was a bad village along the way. It sounded great, but with all the rain and the load on my bike, the brothers determined the road would be impassible.

So it was 11:00 before I finally left, and even with my loose schedule, that was late--it gets dark early. 7km later I was back at the same spot I had left the highway 20 hours ago. Definitely a new pace.

The road had many trucks and no shoulder, the usual. But the scenery was nice, the road running along a wide river valley with hills on both sides. The Vardar River was flooded. Then I went through my first tunnels, which were rocky and dripping, and at Demir Kapija the rain finally caught me. But I was able to switch to the old road, which had barely any traffic. Fantastic.

Darkness caught me at Negotino, where they wouldn't let me sleep at the truck stop (seems unfair--you can sleep there in a truck or car), and when I went back outside to my bike, some guys had left their car's trash on it, including a cup full of cigarette butts. Gross. I continued riding on the old road, in the dark and the rain. It was nice to ride fairly safely in the dark, given how little traffic there was, but I knew I had to stop soon. At the Stobi rail station, the guard indicated I could my tent by the defunct restaurant, which had a covered patio. I figured the rain and the guard dog would keep me safe enough.

I had company at lunch
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Vardar River valley, starting to narrow
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Today's ride: 89 km (55 miles)
Total: 879 km (546 miles)

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