I am very new to the world of cycling. My first long trip was in 2016 when I rode around Iceland for 25 days, struggling every second of it but also it made me fall in love with the idea of covering large distances with my own effort.
My phone rang and almost instantly Sasho’s too. It was dark in the room and we were exhausted. About two hours after I fell asleep a mosquito (or four as we found out) had an absolute feast on me, to the point where I couldn’t sleep anymore from the itchiness. I got up and went to the toilet to see the damage… my legs were minced by those flying piranhas! It was really warm in the room, the windows were open and along with the mosquitos there was a constant wave of noise coming from the relentless traffic outside. Lovely.
It was a very rough night, I must admit. Our “beds” were right next to the road (see photo below), not more than 50 metres away. Anytime a car would pass its headlights would be straight in my face (that’s the side I normally sleep on, so I faced oncoming traffic). Turning around wasn’t much better as the cars were obviously very noisy. I put headphones on, but once or twice cars stopped in the carpark (also about 50 metres from us). I didn’t know why did, but obviously that woke me up and I kept an eye on what they would do.
Sasho was unhappy, we had the habit of sleeping with our window open to keep the fresh air coming in, but since our room was right next to the street, which was adjacent to the main square there was a lot of traffic. Early in the morning (around 6:30am) a car had stopped and two guys were “talking” (read shouting) to each other about something. I was blissfully drooling with my headphones on.
My Fitbit vibrated on my hand and woke me up. With a difficulty I convinced myself and got out of bed, it was 6:30am. It was very chilly in the room, I put my trousers, shoes, jacket and hat, took my wallet and left the tiny room while leaving Sasho to joyfully enjoy his slumber.
Reluctantly we woke up, it definitely wasn’t early, around 9am. Sluggishly we packed and eventually dragged ourselves (and the bikes) out of the “villa” apartment.
After an amazing sleep I woke up refreshed hoping Sasho would be feel better. We packed the bags, set the bikes up for going, put our cycling clothes on and went to have the breakfast included in our booking.
The idea was to get an early start, but we just couldn’t get ourselves out of bed. We had a deal with the host to come and pick up the keys at 9:30am which then dragged to just before 10am 🙂 Eventually we showered, packed up and were ready to go. The host gave us a few ideas and critically made our minds up on which route to take to Ohrid. There are two options, the main road South or the one going through the North through Mavrovo national park and lake areas. The host was adamant that the latter is much more scenic and we decided to follow his advice.
Most of the plane journey I spent dosing off and listening to an audiobook. I didn’t want to build up expectations or imagine things that would happen. This was a trip that was agreed a year in advance, but in reality we had no plan. In fact, we chose Macedonia over Turkey just the week before.
Tools, pedals, saddle, toothbrush, lights, helmet… I was starring into the darkness, my mind was rushing. It was 6:30am and a week before I had quit my current job to start a new one. I was still due to go to work that day, but my mind was racing, trying to grasp the sequence of events and the list of stuff I had to make sure I had packed for the trip ahead.