Anticipating the worst meant that I was surprised with a relatively stress-free day. I left Bitola soon after sunrise, rugged up against an expected cold that never eventuated, the dense cloud cover keeping severe chill at bay. I put my head down and pushed through light drizzle as I exited the city and began a slow steady climb. I was able to keep my mind off the physical challenge and became pleasantly surprised when, sooner than expected, I came to the top of the first of two mountain ranges I had to cross. The descent down the other side was bitterly cold and it began to rain a little harder.
I had been keeping my mind off the day’s task by counting down 5km at a time and giving myself pats on the back when I crossed the quarter, third and halfway milestones. I had been planning on stopping at this halfway point for some food, but, fueled by an enormous breakfast and a bag of lollies, and keen to push on before the weather worsened, I ended up skipping any food stops and getting on with the second big climb. Just like the other, this one wasn’t challengingly steep, nor was it exceedingly long. Before I knew it, I’d reached the top of the pass. I stopped for a few minutes to film a quick video before enduring another shiver-inducing descent through slightly heavier rain.
As I reached the relatively flat country on the outskirts of Ohrid a blustery headwind picked up and slowed me down. I wasn’t really bothered though, as by this point I was ecstatic to have made the two passes without being impeded by snow or severe weather like I’d been expecting. I pushed through the wind and into town. It wasn’t until I reached the cobbled streets around the old tree that I could remember being here seven years ago. I knew roughly where the hostel I stayed at was and headed that way, coming cross little signs pointing the way up the narrow lanes. And then I was home again, Sunny Lake Hostel. Joko, the guy running the place, was delighted to hear that I stayed here seven years ago.
I got my stuff inside before having a lukewarm shower and getting snug in warm, dry clothes. I immediately gathered together all my wet and dirty gear and put on a load of washing. Lunchtime came next and I devoured my lunch supplies while watching a documentary being played in the lounge. Finally, I could sit back and really relax. I jumped online and spent one and a half hours chatting to my friend Yara. In the evening I headed into town for dinner, eating full meals at two different places before buying some dessert food and snacks at the supermarket. One thing that has struck me is that the music played publicly in Macedonia is in English. I’m so used to hearing foreign language music that it is a real change.
I really didn’t really have room for the food I brought home, but I devoured it nonetheless: can of sliced peaches, tub of yoghurt, block of chocolate and nearly 1L of coke. I then stretched out and waited for it all to settle. I was ready for bed, but was enjoying being on a couch in a room warmed by a fire, so I also didn’t mind staying up. A couple of Joko’s friends came around. I accepted a wine and then joined one of them outside for a joint. The smoke hit me incredibly hard (as well as being super strong, I guess I was vulnerable from being super exhausted and not in the habit of smoking). It was all I could do to get myself upstairs and horizontal in bed. The bed felt like the most comfortable cloud I could ever lie in and I had a really pleasant time for a while feeling the effects of the cannabis wash over me. At some point I fell asleep.
|Distance ridden today||69.68km|
|Average cycling speed||15.2kph|
|Total distance ridden||27,395km|