For the first time on this trip I stayed at a campsite. I don’t like paying for accommodation (the last time was a hostel in Bruge, Belgium!), much preferring to just camp either in someones garden (with permission of course) or just by the side of the road, but finding somewhere to pitch up with a mountain to my right and the river directly to my left would have been tricky. I was also laking a bit of motivation so having an finishing point for the day was the incentive I needed to push the last few miles.
The campsite was ok if not a little grimy (I doubt the cockroaches in the showers were paying for their stay), but I found a nice place to pitch by the river and had a restful nights sleep.
I left at around 9, but had some pretty bad crooked riding problems so spent the first 3 hours or so riding, stopping, adjusting the uni, so only made 15 miles by 1pm.
The views of the river from the Serbian side were spectacular. The only downside to the road was all of the unlit tunnels. I rode through the shorter ones, but when they became longer than 200meters I dismounted and walked on the footpath as I didn’t fancy being squished by a lorry!
I also ran out of food so when I finally arrived in a town at 3pm (25miles in) I bought and ate soo much I felt sick! A guy from the local newspaper also saw me in the town and we did a little interview and took a few photos. I enjoyed talking to him about my trip, but I was craving food so I excused myself, found a bench by the river and stuffed my face!
Felling thoroughly sick I set off at 4 aiming for another campsite in the town called Tekija. Soon after it started drizzling. Then raining! Then absolutely chucking it down! I found a covered bench and hid under there for a while.
I made slow progress all day and by 8pm I was still 11 miles away. By this time lighting had started so, as you do, I set up a timelapse of a particularly pretty section of the river, to try and capture it. I don’t think I did, but the timelapse came out looking pretty cool. I probably spent another 45mins doing that so by time l left from taking the photos it was starting to get dark! Additionally the lighting was getting closer and the thunder, louder! Maybe stopping for so long while a storm built wasnt such a great idea… (the result of the time-lapse below)
So 15 minutes later I’m riding in the pitch black, it’s tipping it down and there is lightning all around. So so far it’s pretty scary, but it gets worse. The road starts heading up. Up and up and up. And up some more until I’m riding in a cloud! I could hardly see a thing because the light from my touch was just reflecting off the fog and blinding me.
So this is a pretty scary situation, wouldn’t you agree? Alone, drenched, in the dark, high up a mountain, in a cloud and all the while lighting is flashing all around. How could this situation possible get any worse I hear you ask….WELL! Try adding an angry Rottweiler to the mix!
Soon after reaching the top of the hill I start to hear I quiet barking in the distance. I think nothing off it at first but the noise started to get louder and louder until I see a pair of eyes, reflected in my torchlight bolting in my direction.
So I’m in a cloud, up a mountain, it’s dark, I’m wet and there lighting all around AND an angry guard dog is chasing me! AND need I remind you that I’m on a unicycle! Bloody hell! What excitement!
After around 300meters the dog stopped chasing, but I can tell you that those 30 seconds were some of the scariest of my life.
So I didn’t get struck by lightning and made last 5 miles in the pouring rain to the campsite. Only the campsite wasn’t open. I tried to search on my phone to see if there was a hostel nearby, but it had stopped working because of the water, so I asked the first guy I saw if the was a ‘zimmer’ around here, to which he said come with me (or something to that effect) and brought me back to his home.
I later found out that his name was Jovitsa and he was the chief of the town. He also used to play professional basketball and is massive Tom Jones fan.
While the storm continues to rage outside he fed me bread and cheese and set me up on the sofa bed. I am seriously grateful towards him and his act of kindness. He treated me as if I was one of his own sons at a time that I was in need.
I attempt not to ride through storms in future, but I sure it will happen again at some point. And I sure that when it does I will again be tempted to stop and take photos. So I guess I’m saying that I didn’t really learn anything from this situation and when I find myself in it again I will probably do exactly the same thing, because really adventure is what this ride is all about and if i’m not riding through thunderstorms then how much of an adventure am I really having?