Mediterranean Cycopaths

Cycling Shorts #2

Three Billy Goats Gruff

The road from Sarande to Vlore in Albania was undulating and in shocking condition to the point where, by 4pm, we had only travelled 70 of 130kms.  Standing between us and Vlore was a 1000m mountain pass and, while the road was sealed from this point on, we were presented with a new challenge on the 2nd hair pin bend.  Standing in our way was a herd of innocuous looking goats.  Innocuous, that is if they arent accompanied by 6 of the most vicious mutts this side of the Korean DMZ (I assume the dogs there are pretty vicious?). With the three of us tackling the climb at our own pace, we each adopted different combat methods to get through.

The first I knew trouble was on the horizon was the cacophony of barking.  I looked up to see Sean going uphill at downhill speed whilst woofing back at the dogs and spraying water at them.  I arrived on the scene soon thereafter and 1 of the pr*cks came down the road and signalled to the others that I was coming.  They stood there, 6 across, growling at me.  H2O is quite a valuable commodity going up these mountains and I was blowed if I was going to waste the team’s Gin stockpile which occupies my other water bottle – so I stopped, picked up some rocks, fired a few opening salvos then headed into battle.  I have never been so scared of a pack of animals in my life.  Boy, were they were mean, but the whirring of legs and me dropping rocks at their heads (in thrown-down fashion) periodically, managed to keep them at bay and I survived to blog another day.

Dogs are Talking

I didn’t dare stop any closer

A text message warning to Tombsy, a dog lover from way back, was taken with a grain of salt until he too was confronted.  They were probably even more aggravated by that stage, but with a combination of the tactics already described and the fact that there was a little less meat on offer, he also got through unscathed – physically at least.  These dogs were so aggresive they were trying to bite the tyres of cars as they went past … and it was all enjoyed by a viewing audience comprising the goats and a smug shepherd hiding in the bushes.  Gladiators, Albanian style.

Land Speed Gripes

The flip side of the any uphill is the downhill to come and the monster mountain described above provided 20kms of it.  The race for the land speed record was back on!  During a particularly quick section Sean managed to break it by 0.05 kph!  This left a bitter taste in my mouth – not so much for the narrow margin but the fact that I was right on his tail at the time and, but for some gear failure, believe I would have had him.  After 7,000kms my rear tyre started to come apart and I could only manage 79kph.

Gear Failure ...


The battle for the coveted land speed record continues

I am inevitably and deservedly copping plenty of ’sour grapes’ ribbing, but I will wear that.  Meanwhile, if anyone knows of a tyre manufacturer that makes equipment more suited to my high octane approach to cycling, then please let me know.

Conspiracy Theories

With Tombsy self admittedly being a little undercooked when he joined.  The long days in the saddle are as much a mental challenge as physical, so he always likes to know exactly what he’s in for before the start of play in order to psych himself up.  Sean and I have been doing our best to manage his expectations both on the distance and topographical front however, as is the case with other famous seers like Nostradamus, our prophecies have sometimes proved inaccurate.  Whilst he revels in the over-estimations, it was a none too happy Mr.Tombs who arrived in Makarska after riding a hilly 155kms (a new personal best) over the course of 8 testing hours.

Sean and I, fresh from a swim at the beach, were accused of conspiring to make him tackle a distance he would not have otherwise attempted!  While we were only 10% out (the map was 25% out) and refuted all claims of responsibility, Tombsy admitted to cursing us (read turning the air blue) for the last 50kms of his journey.



April 27, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Yet another beautifully scripted piece of writing boys! Sean, I’m reminded of your confrontation with a wandering buffalo in Canada, maybe these types of ‘hairy’ situations attract themselves to you? Ha!

    Comment by Josh | April 30, 2007 | Reply

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