Some half a life time ago, when I was in high school and got my first mountain bicycle, I made a plan to go on a bicycle tour through former Yugoslavia. I remember, I took a road map of Yugoslavia and made plan of where I would go, how far each day I would go and all the towns and places that I would visit. Though, I did not make a time plan, since I was in third year of high school and time was not a big issue. If I would have decided to make that plan real, it would have probably taken me a year to make that tour. So, due to a number of circumstances, I did not make that tour. Well I completely forgot about this plan of mine, though if I dig deeper through my high school notebooks I am certain that I will find some notes.
I only thought of making a bicycle tour through ex Yugoslavia, again, just a year ago. Recently I made some new friends from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia that became very dear to me, and I wanted to visit them. So I figured if I go to visit one bunch of people I could visit all of them, so there I was, thinking to go to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia just to see some friends. I figured that it would be best to do that in late August and September, when the weather is cooler. But as things must go wrong, so did this one. In May I got talked into the idea that I should combine my tour with a tour along the Croatian coast. However it never turned anything out of this since the people that wanted to join me for just because of the coast, finally decided not to tour. In any case this made an impact for me to consider the Adriatic coast and to think about setting off earlier.
Eventually I was back with my ideas of visiting friends. I was looking at some options on how I should combine places, when my cousin (currently living in USA) told me that I must be in Belgrade prior the 20 July so we can meet… Well that was it. I closed the planning mode and went into implementation just like that. There were 450 km from Skopje to Belgrade, so I would need about five days to pass that route, thinking that I should be there some day earlier. I decided to leave early morning on the 14 July, and I had but one free day – 13 July to prepare.
From the several routes I planned earlier, this one was the most sound I thought. So I made a terrible time schedule according to it. I made some half measurement that a day stage should not exceed 100 km and added dates to the places I would go to. Thus I informed all my friends about when I would be in their home town. There were some objections on those dates, but I figured that I could manage some changes and suit that as well.
I still needed to do some repairs to my bicycle. I had to grease up the pedals and clean the chain. I ended up greasing the derailers and making the whole bicycle look simply good. I got new pedals and a new chain. I simply did not have time to grease the pedals and wash the chain, but I sure did find time to do some other repairs.
What I have not thought of really was the issue of sleeping. Normally I would sleep at my friend’s place. But to get from one friend to another, takes a hell of a lot of time and length, passing through places in which I knew none. So I decided to carry a tent. I figured I would be able to wild camp if it was really needed. But my first idea was Couchsurfing and Warmshowers network. Though Warmshowers is not that well spread out through former Yugoslavia. Since I had only one day (and night that I intended to use for sleep) to write to potential hosts, I figured that Couchsurfing is far more demanding than Warmshowers. So eventually I decided not to Couchsurf this time. I saw where there are potentials for Warmshowers, well basically little, and then it occurred to me: people in this part are fairly hospitable. A short conversation and I can have my tent in the yard of some stranger that I will meet along the road. This last thought made me comfortable that I will not be without a place to sleep.
What was left, no it is not sleeping the night before the tour, but the packing of my bags. In the period while I was engaged with repairing my bicycle and writing mails to Warmshowers, I managed to make quite a substantial pile of things that I could and should have them. But before sorting that out, I needed to decide on the bags. For my birthday I got a Brand X bicycle touring bags, and I still had the Vaude Aqua Backs that made me pissed during my last tour. I did not want to have another bag dropping out on its own and smashing anything valuable or sensitive in there, for what the Brand X seemed more convincing. But I also did not want to have anything wet during a rain shower, for which the Vaude Aqua Back gave more confidence to protect. At the end, I choose to go with the Vaude Aqua Back, because they were slightly bigger.
I started piling the things: quick dry t-shirts, padded pants, normal pants, socks, bandana, cap, towel, soap for washing clothes, tooth brush, razor for shaving, extra water bottle with water, long sleeved, warm shirt, rain jacket, gloves, swimming pants, under pants, batteries, flash light, GPS device, two bicycle locks, utility knife, spare tube, tool set, tube patches, napkins, sun glasses, belt, video camera, photo camera, lens for the photo camera, sleeping bag, tent, mattress, some food, passport, money, and some more stuff.
I was ready to go. It was something after 3 am, I had time to sleep till 5 am before I depart.