Day 27 - Gostivar to Skopje: Insanity. Why else would I do this? - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

February 11, 2015

Day 27 - Gostivar to Skopje: Insanity. Why else would I do this?

It was supposed to be an easy 70km to Skopje. Being a slow learner, I still expect things to go the way they're supposed to. I certainly wasn't expecting the strongest, iciest headwind of my trip. Brutal. (Note to self: get a thesaurus. You are using the word 'brutal' far too often.)

I took my first toll road today because I left the hotel late and wanted the direct route. The guy at the toll booth told me bicycles aren't allowed on that road. Some fruitless discussion followed due to my inability to speak Macedonian and his inability to speak English. Eventually, he motioned for me to get out of the way because there was a line forming behind me. I chose to interpret that as 'have a safe journey on this road' and continued on my way.

I was smarter at the next toll booth and simply rode around the right side. Went into Tetovo for lunch, then took the secondary road to Skopje, which was when I really got hit by the wind. Pedalling downhill was a challenge. I saw several Macedonian wind socks (ie. plastic bags caught on tree branches) along the way that showed me how strong the wind was. In case I hadn't noticed.

Getting into Skopje was weird. I saw traffic signals for bicycles, and faded red paint alongside pedestrian crossings, but no signs of bike lanes anywhere else. After I upset all the bus drivers by being on the road, I finally spotted the bike path. It was there all along, don't know how I could have missed it. So obvious and functional, what with the high curbs, the posts in the middle of the path, the bumpy and potholed surface, the crowded bus stops, and the cars parked all over it.

I am irritated, amused, and baffled by this. Cyclists should not be the lowest priority on dedicated bike paths. I would have thought that was obvious, but it seems not to be.

After a few tough days, when I spotted my first tortilla chips in months, I bought avocados, made too much guacamole, and ate most of it, though I claimed to be sharing it. It was delicious.

Looking back toward Tetovo
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The two roads to Skopje
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Functional bike lane in Skopje
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Yes, this is the bike path
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Today's ride: 73 km (45 miles)
Total: 1,283 km (797 miles)

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