I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

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I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod stefangruber » 04 Jan 2010, 10:42

Hello everyone,
first of all please forgive me that I write in English but although polish and serbian languages are similar I can not write in serbian.
I am a biker from Poland, who wants to do a biking trip with friends in Eastern Serbia. We have been once to Serbia - we wanted to go from Derdap Lake to the border with Macedonia but we only managed to travel from Golubac to Knjazevac. It was very hard to find a way through serbian mountains since there are no biking/touristic routes so after a couple of days we had to give up. That is why we need help to plan our second trip much better. If you speak English and can help please drop me a line here and I will write more about what we want to do and where to go.
I am sorry if this is not the right place for such a topic. I ask the administrator to move this topic to right board part if this is necessary.
Thanks in advance for your help. Best regards,
stefangruber.
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod IRalic » 04 Jan 2010, 17:48

Witaj Stefan ! :D


Możemy i po Polsku :D

Niestety to prawda, że tutaj słabo z takimi mapami turystycznymi, choć jest jedna mapka "Iron Gate treking/mtb map" albo jakoś tak,
ale ile dobrze pamiętam, jest to tylko kawałek parku narodowego Djerdap (Iron Gate)

Jeśli planujecie takie wycieczki po "bezdrożach" Serbii, jedyne rozsądne rozwiązanie jest użądzenie GPS z odpowiednią mapą i przygotowanym trek plikiem.
Właśnie na Freebiking stronie jest spora baza treków. Popatrz na http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/atlas.html
Oczywiście storna domowa Ci odkryje cały rowerowy świat Serbskich gór.
Niestety strona jest tylko w języku Serbskim, ale myślę że bez problemu poradzisz sobie,i zobaczysz tak orientacyjnie jak to mniej więcej wygląda.
Wyjdź na stronę atlasu i kliknij na jeden z regionów na mapie Serbii który Cie interesuje.Np. Serbia północno-wschodnia
Potem dalej wybierasz na mapie, np. Djerdap
Potem zobaczysz stronę z krótkim opisem tego regionu, a w lewym rogu znajduję się guzik "voznje" który Cie sprowadzi na stronę z trekami
Wybierając dowolny trek, otworzy się strona z opisem i zdjęciami, oraz mapą i linkiem do pobierania samego treku ("Preuzmi trek .zip")
Po prawej na stronie regionu znajdziesz guzik "mapa", który otworzy stronę z orientacyjną mapą topograficzną tego regionu

Te treki, mapy i Google Earth pewnie Wam pomogą w planowaniu zamierzonej trasy.

Mam nadzieje że się odezwie jeszcze ktoś kto się lepiej zna na tych rejonach, i nawigacją przez nich, jak np. moderator tego forum,
który nas zawsze wszystkich prowadzi na takich wycieczkach rowerowych przez przepiękne krajobrazy Serbii :)



Pozdrawiam serdecznie :-)
Igor

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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod stefangruber » 04 Jan 2010, 22:18

Cześć Igor,
bardzo zdziwiłeś mnie odpowiadając po polsku. I to tak dobrze :) Gdzie uczyłeś się polskiego?
Po pierwsze wielkie dzięki za odpowiedź. Oczywiście przejrzałem dokładnie tę stronę i trafiłem na materiały do GPS. Problem w tym, że one raczej nie pokrywają terenu, przez który chcemy przejechać. Ostatnią wycieczkę skończyliśmy w Knjazevacu, u stóp masywu Stara Planina. Teraz chcielibyśmy kontynuować podróż na południe, najlepiej w ogóle nie wjeżdżając na asfaltowe drogi. Mam jedną mapę Starej Planiny, którą kupiłem w Belgradzie. Chciałbym dowiedzieć się, jak najlepiej zaplanować trasę - którędy, co warto zobaczyć po drodze, co omijać. Może możecie polecić nam inne, ciekawe rejony? Może nasz plan nie jest najlepszy, bo są ciekawsze rzeczy do zobaczenia?
Dwa lata temu trafiliśmy do ogromnego kanionu, gdzieś za Górami Homolskimi (nie wiem czy dobrze piszę nazwę), którym jechaliśmy prawie cały dzień. W Polsce coś takiego byłoby ogromną atrakcją turystyczną, w Serbii trafiliśmy tam absolutnie przypadkiem. Tym razem chciałbym zobaczyć jak najwięcej, a ominąć jak najmniej :)
Czy w Kosowie jest bezpiecznie? Zastanawiamy się, czy warto się wybrać w Góry Suva Planina. Plan maksimum zakłada, żeby kontynuować dalej drogę w Macedonii i dojechać do Jeziora Ochrydzkiego. Wątpię jednak, żeby udało nam się przejechać taki kawał.
Jeśli tylko możesz opowiedz nam proszę jak najwięcej o miejscach wartych zobaczenia. Nasze wymagania: ma nie być asfaltowych dróg, hoteli i jak najmniej turystów (podczas poprzedniego wyjazdu nie spotkaliśmy w górach nikogo, tylko pasterzy i drwali!).
A na koniec marzę, żeby trafić do takiej restauracji rybnej, takiej jak ta w Knjazevacu. Poezja!
Pozdrawiam.
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod IRalic » 07 Jan 2010, 18:58

Czesc :)


Polskiego się nauczyłem w Polsce ;) Mam tam dziewczynę, no i wiesz .. ;)
Może lepiej wróćmy na angielski, żeby nas inny zrozumieli ;) bo koledze się pewnie lepiej znają na tamtych rejonach.

I've never been so far to the southeast, so I'm not much help here.
The whole eastern and south eastern part is really nice, but I personally have only been on Juzni Kucaj/Beljanica and around there,
which is a total wilderness, but with very good gravel roads made decades ago, for wood extraction.
Fresh water and stunning views abundant all around.Just take a look at this http://iralic.fotopic.net/c528589.html and you'll get the idea.

There are lot's of bikers from the south who know the mountains over there, so I call out to them all, to join this discussion with some real data and ideas.



Pozzzz :)
Igor

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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod stefangruber » 07 Jan 2010, 23:42

Thanks for your answer, Igor. Did you go biking in Poland?

Maybe guys who open this topic can help but they do not know English so they do not understand my request? Is there a chance you could translate my request to serbian language, so everyone could understand this?
Some time ago I wrote an email to the administrator of that board (at least I think he is the administrator. His name is Aleksander and email is legolas at freebiking.org) but unfortunately I didn't get any answer.
Your photos are great, I looked through your website - what a beautifull country is Serbia. We really loved Homoljska Planina, Derdap or Lazarev Kanion. I remember that we spent the whole day trying to get to the top of the Malinik Mountain but we didn't manage and gave up. No wonder, cause as we learned later our languages are not that similar. Pravo in serbian means "straight" but in polish means "right". So every time people were telling us to go straight, we were taking the wrong way :)
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod bluealek » 08 Jan 2010, 02:35

Hello Stefan,

I don't speak Polish, so I don't know how far in the discussion did you and Igor get :) . The e-mail you've sent me may have accidentally ended up in the junk mail folder, and I probably missed to pull it out - unfortunatelly, some 95% of mails we get in English nowadays is spam, and the automatic filters sometimes are just not clever enough to recognize those messages which are not.

I don't know if you wanted to get to the top of Malinik on foot or by bike - it is possible to get there even by bike, pedaling, there are several initial approaches, but they all end up reaching the main ridge by the road that passes by Mali Malinik peak, and going around Veliki Malinik on either side of it (you can make a fine round trip around the highest peak, and reach some nice scenic views of the canyon on the other side). Here you have a bike track for Malinik in our guide (unfortunatelly, also in Serbian):

http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/SI/Trek ... linik.html

and here you have a photo album from the tour made by a group of 11 members of this forum, that included Malinik ascent (it was a two day round trip around the Kučaj mountains)

http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... temId=5348

although it was not a biking trip, here you can also find lots of images from mount Malinik (we camped at the pass between Veliki Malinik and the Malinik Ridge, at about 1050 m)

http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... &g2_page=5

and here you can find Malinik images from two trips there (hiking and biking)

http://aleksandar.fotopic.net/c1538025.html

So, I guess you've had enough of Malinik, and now you also know how to get there? 8)
What else can I do to help you?

Excuse me if I'll be slow on replying during the weekend, since I'll be away from the Internet.
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod IRalic » 08 Jan 2010, 12:22

stefangruber je napisao:Thanks for your answer, Igor. Did you go biking in Poland?


You're welcome ;)
No, not much :( Just two days from the UA border to Kraków on a tour few years ago.
Of course I have lots of kilometers on Warsaw streets ;) since I lived there for about 7 months over 2 years.

Maybe guys who open this topic can help but they do not know English so they do not understand my request? Is there a chance you could translate my request to serbian language, so everyone could understand this?


Well, most do, but maybe they are just enjoying their holidays ;)


No wonder, cause as we learned later our languages are not that similar. Pravo in serbian means "straight" but in polish means "right". So every time people were telling us to go straight, we were taking the wrong way :)


Haha :D yeah! it can be quite confusing when they tell you to keep going straight, and you keep going right, and end up in the same place you were at the start :lol:
A simple fraze book can be of help here ;) and there is actually a polish/serbian fraze book on sale in Belgrade's main pedestrian streets,
and OMV gas stations.
I have one that I bought years ago, and it's yours if you want it :)

Concerning my conversation in Polish, it was nothing much, I just pointed to the Freebikings Atlas and GPS treks section.

So Stefan, tell us first, what is the concept of your planed trip.
Is it gonna be like full-on self supported thing, with heavy panniers on the bike all the time,
and you want to go straight as possible down to the south,
or you are also interested in making a camp in one place, and then do a day or two round trips,
and then move on to the next location, or you rather prefer to sleep in a different place every night.
Support car maybe ? or just what you can take on the bikes ?
The camp+round trips can provide you with much more scenic rides, as not everything is accessible with a fully loaded bike.


Cheers :)
Igor

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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod stefangruber » 08 Jan 2010, 23:26

Great to hear from you, Aleksander :)
So the plan is:
1. We have 7-8 days. Maybe 9 but it depends on our jobs. We want to come at the begining of September.
2. We travel with tents and sleeping bags so we can sleep anywhere. We prefer camping but mountain huts and shelters are also ok.
3. We do not want to change camps and do 1-2 day trips. We want to go straight for around a week and then come back by train to the point where we started and left the car.
4. We hate asphalt roads :) If this is possible we want mountain tracks only. We can carry bikes on our backs if necessary (we do not travel with panniers, only minimum stuff in backpacs - I had a small fraze book polish - serbian but I left it in a car when I was reducing the weight in my backpack :) I can leave it in a car again since we know most important words now - pravo, hvala and izvor :)
5. The original plan was to go to Knjazevac where we finished our trip last time and then go south close to the border with Bulgaria through Stara Planina and then to Macedonia and finish at Ohrid Lake but we do not have enough time to accomplish it. So we are looking for the best route of 7-8 days of straight biking and we want to see as much of wild serbian mountains as possible (attractions like Lazarev Kanion, caves, lakes, mountian rivers, etc. are more then welcome).
6. If other regions than south-east are better for such a plan we are open to change it. Is Kosovo safe to go there? Is it worth going? What about Bosnia? We also consider going to Bulgaria or Macedonia but I am in a serbian department :) So please help me to find as attractive way as possible so that I could convince my friends to come back to your country :)
I guess I wrote down all our expectations. They are high, I know, but if they were low I could cope with planing myself without your help :)
Take care,
Michal (stefangruber is my nick only).
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod Caligvla » 09 Jan 2010, 11:02

Bosnia is OK (both for biking through and safety-wise) but the real challenge -- and beauty -- is Hercegovina! I'd stay away from Kosovo. A few years ago, they killed a Bulgarian UN worker because they mistook him for a Serb (Albanians from Albania are responsible for this, I assume, because K-Albanians can tell the difference between the Serbian and Bulgarian languages). It's a third world hellhole and a failed one at that. Best to keep away.
When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.  ~ H.G. Wells
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod IRalic » 09 Jan 2010, 17:00

Heh :) well, I thought like, Stefan Gruber is a pretty unusual name for a Pole :D

I'll second what Caglivla said on Kosovo. It's a filthy shit holle in the middle of Europe,
and if You are not into ruined buildings and all that adrenalin rush that some people get when they visit unsafe places,
you should definitely skip it.
Even if there IS something interesting there (Prokletije mountains for example) there are sure as much as nice things and places to see
in surrounding countries which are safe and clean, and where people are much friendlier.
And if there are girls in your group, then you can truly forget about riding in Kosovo,
as they will get sick of all the horny monkey like behavior that they will get from men of any age, when they see girls on bicycles,
not to mention "free minded western girls" on bicycles in tight clothes ..
I've been there, with a girl, so just trust me on this one ;)

Sooo, if i was to plan a tour like that, with as little asphalt as possible, and include all of the nice and wild places in eastern serbia,
(you got me drooling all over the keyboard now, just thinking about it! :D )
i would definitely include Juzni Kucaj mountains, and then work my way south towards Stara, and end on Vlasinsko jezero,
from where you can get down to the main road/rail that connects Macedonia with the north, where you can easily get a lift up to Belgade or thereabouts.
The starting point would be somewhat difficult to determine, since you would like to leave your car there,
and be able to train/bus back to your car at the end of the trip.
And of course, there is always a question where could you safely park your car for a week, and still find it there when you get back,
untouched and whole, and ready to roll ;)
If I was you, I would probably leave my care in Belgrade, or thereabouts, preferably at friends place or something like that,
and then either train/bus near the beginning of the tour, or even better, have someone drive me there,
not to waste time riding asphalt roads from the bus/train to the mountains and waste a day or half of it.

Now, here is what I would plan if I was to go:

Start with Kucaj/Beljanica. From Zagubica(bus or car options) and then down to Busovata river valley,
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and up to 1339 Beljanica peak,
which is easily accessible with a bike all the way to the top.
GPS trek,map,descp. here: http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/SI/Trek ... anica.html

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Then along the Beljanica ridge down to Raskova livada (technical single trail)
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and then a veery loooong and beautiful down hill to Resava canyon, down the Jelov potok
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GPS trek and map,well actually just the part from Beljanica peak down to Resava here: http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/SI/Trek ... skova.html

Then after admiring the deep Resava canyon, you could go up Klocanica river to Valkaluci,
which is arguably the quietest place on earth with crystal clear night sky and brisk fresh air :)
http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/SI/Trek ... zerak.html
and then visit the nearby Prskalo waterfall
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From there, you could maybe make some detours over eastern part and revisiting Lazarev kanjon and Malinik?
and finally climb it ? ;->
or a possible 2 day round tour like this one (if you have time for it): http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... temId=5535
Then from Prskalo you could go towards Grza, via Velika Brezovica and Javorak(really cool dirt mountain road descent before the end!!)
At Grza there are accommodation options (ultra cheap "mountaineers hostel".nothing nice, but there is hot water ;), or a motel ..)
Then after having a real shower, and possible a laundry job, with fresh body and fresh clothes you could do the Samanjac narrow track rail road route.
A really nice route along the south side of the mountain, with very gentle grade (15-20km/h uphill no problem)
which has a 2km long dark wet tunnel on it's end, for a cherry on the cake effect :D
http://www.freebiking.org/Atlas/SI/Trek ... anjac.html
http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... temId=4588
After the tunnel you can take the road to the south, and approach the Rtanj mountain(aka. the pyramid) from the high plateau
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And if you fancy, you could even climb it! with the bike ! it's really hard work, but it can be done by a combination of riding/pushing/carrying your bike to the summit.
I have unfortunately never been there, but the look must be awesome!
Then go towards Stara Planina, but I don't know how, cause I've never been there ;)
On Stara you could do the whole, or a part of this ride: http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... &g2_page=1
which includes climbing Babin Zub i Midzor (with bike)
I'm sure Aleksandar can provide some treks for that, and other Stara rides.
And I have no idea how to get to Vlasinsko jezero off road only, http://www.freebiking.org/TUROTEKA/2001 ... adrzaj.htm but in any case don't miss the Kanjon Jerme !!
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Check out what Google http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&s ... f&oq=&aqi=
and there are probably dozens of photos on Panoramio, locatable via Google Earth.

Sooo :D as you see, there is plenty so see here! Just show all this to your friends, and they will be hooked in a minute! :D



Cheers! :)
Igor

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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod Caligvla » 09 Jan 2010, 19:44

Prizori su da ostanes bez teksta! :o :shock: Ovo moram da vidim uzivo pre nego sto odem u roaming!
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod stefangruber » 10 Jan 2010, 00:20

Hi Caligvla - why is Herzegovina a real challenge? This words sound encouraging to us :) Combined with beauty they are like the best invitation.

Igor - thanks a lot for such a detailed plan. The only problem is that it mostly covers the area we have already been to, although I realize that we have not seen to much when I look at your photos :) Now I am really pissed that we were so close to all those beautifull places and missed them.
We left the car in Golubac, at a parking place in front of a hotel at the bank of the lake - it was ok when we came back :) Were we very lucky or you exaggerate a bit that we have to leave the car in a friendly place?).
We spent a couple of hours in Belgrade trying to buy maps of the region but we were not succesfull. We only managed to buy car atlas of the whole country (1:480 000) and Stara Planina map. This is why we decided to take just a part of the food and do a 2-3 days trip around Homolske Planina. After we crossed it we went to Zagubica and then traveled next to a river through a canion. We missed the way and finished that day sleeping in a camping place at Borsko Jezero. Then we took an asphalt road (we had no choice) and went to Zlot and then we were biking around Lazarev Kanion (which we didn't know about and found accidentally, can you imagine how surprised we were when we saw it??). Then we wanted to find Bogovinska Pecina but missed the way again and through an asphalt road went to Valakonje and Boljevac. Then we saw Rtanj mountain you mentioned. It's shape is amazing but we succesfully fought the temptation of climbing it and went further. We wanted to go in direction of Stara Planina so we planned to do it through the Slemen mountian. Although one guy in a small village gave us an old but detailed military map we lost the way again and had to finish our trip doing around 10 km on an asphalt road to Knjazevac (the fish restaurant there and wine in a bar were delicious).
As you can see there was way too much asphalt and we were not very happy about it. We were tired with losing the way and we didn't have more food so although we finally managed to get to Stara Planina we decided to go to Romania for the rest of the trip.

1. We like to finish what we started so Stara Planina is tempting us to come back. Is it worth it?
2. Is there anything interesting south to Stara Planina in the direction of Macedonia?
3. I guess 7-8 days is too much for the route Stara Planina (starting let's say in Knjazevac) - border with Macedonia?
4. Maybe there are better regions for a 7-8 days route through big mountains and no asphalt?
5. I read about Tara and Kopaonik (at the border with Kosovo. you succesfully discouraged me to go there). Are these places worth going?
6. Maybe we should try to combine Serbia and Herzegovina (Tara National Park is next to the border) planning the trip?
7. I guess that if I ask more questions you will get fed up with me so I stop now. At least for a moment :)

I can only promise that if anyone of you will ever want to go to Poland I will be of any help you need.
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod Caligvla » 10 Jan 2010, 02:59

The terrain in Herzegovina (especially in the west) is unlike anything in Serbia or Bosnia. For starters, it's very rocky. You'll be rock-hopping and/or riding on gravel most of the time. Also you will find yourselves riding through windswept valleys one minute, and atop a ridge the next. Any and all vegetation is pretty scarce and in some areas, the low lying shrubbery is all you'll encounter. It is very sparsely populated and you'll think you're the last people on Earth :) Carry everything you need and then some because you will not find a store up there. Even though it's barren and there's not much to see, it still offers breathtaking views.

The east is very different. Once you get there, it's going to look a lot like Serbia/Bosnia. It's lush and green and the terrain will vary a bit more. Here's a nice route I found on a website from Bosnia.

cheers
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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod IRalic » 10 Jan 2010, 23:27

Well, depending on your definition of "area" :D
Saying that You've seen Juzni Kucaj by beeing in Lazarev kanjon, it's like saying "i've been to New York, and I have seen north america" :D

Every corner of those mountains is worth seeing, so it does not really matter if you covered one, or more areas, as long as you have fun ;)
Judging by the pictures, Stara is sure worth 2-3 days at least.

You could perhaps spend say 3 days on Kucaj, then skip the boring part and go straight to Stara,
and then leave the rest for the Jerma canyon (it's asphalt, but just LOOK AT IT!) and go to Vlasinsko jezero or something.I
If you are thinking of getting the maximum of your available time, then you might consider a support car,
do get you from place to place, and to take the food and camping stuff.
Keep in mind that Kucaj is totally wild, and there are NO SHOPS or vilages there!
so do not count on anything besides fresh water.
So you will have to carry food for the whole duration of the trip trough it.
Again, support car can be really handy here, even if it doesn't follow you, but rather meet you at a sleeping place or something.
Think about an extra person to drive the car, or maybe team up with some locals (like us)


Cheers!
Igor

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Re: I need help to plan a bike trip through Serbia

Postod bluealek » 12 Jan 2010, 00:37

I'm back from the mountains, but a lot of work to catch up with, so I'll have to be short for now :(

I see you've been quite busy discussing the route in the previous days. Generally I thing eastern Serbia alone IS worth making a decent route through it, because there is no other part of Serbia that can leave an impression of such uninhabited wilderness. I am not saying that central and western Serbia isn't beautiful, but it's different kind of beauty, it's the "postcard type", obvious beauty, but it's very touristically exploited. If you want to feel like you're a million miles away from civilization, a well planned tour through eastern Serbia is the only that can give you that.

Just recently, last september, I had a group with a similar idea - they wanted to cross eastern Serbia from Djerdap (the Iron Gate) all the way to Stara planina exiting to Bulgaria at Dimitrovgrad, with as little asphalt as possible, as much adventure and true wilderness as possible, and to complete it in only 5 days. Well, they were 4x4 tourists, but I devised a route for them that would work very well for bikers too. I wrote a reportage about the whole thing for the magazine I work for (Auto Bild Serbia and Montenegro). I'll try to make a PDF of the reportage, and to prepare the GPS track.

Of course, I could draw out another route specially for you, taking into account that you don't want to return to the area north of Knjaževac, but would rather start with Stara planina. Stara planina is very wild and beautiful, it's certainly worth seeing, but keep in mind that if you want to get into the very heart of the wilderness, it's very demanding for a biker, both technically, and physically. There are some very long climbs and descends (even more than 1000 m at once), so you should really be prepared for it.

You can take a look at the photo album of our last year's biking weekend in Stara planina (25 of us gathered for the event) to get an idea what you'll be seeing:

http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... temId=6265

And you might also want to take a look at a set of 7 short photo albums from my and my girlfriends vacation that started from Kučaj, and over Rtanj and Tupižnica extended to Stara planina, where we spent the last several days of it. It was not a biking trip, but the scenery is well worth to look at:

http://www.freebiking.org/galerije/main ... temId=2611

I've also written a story about it (in Serbian, unfortunately), but you can take a look at maps of the territory we've covered:

http://www.freebiking.org/Freewheeling/ ... /mape.html

It's really not easy to devise a "perfect" route of the places you love and know so well, but I'm sure we'll come up with the ideal solution in the end 8)
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bluealek
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Pridružio se: 01 Feb 2005, 19:49
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