Day 122 - Somewhere near Rubik
12 April 2022
Blue skies. The temperature dropped below zero last night. Breakfast on the mountainside. Today's ride is about 40 km. We have a big downhill so it should be an easy ride.
Leaving Kujë we head offroad and onto a quarry track. Pass goat herders and an old man on a mule pushing four bony dairy cattle along the road. There are very few cars. To the east is a valley and the river Lumi i Drojës. It is stunning countryside and great riding.
“It is desirable that a man live in all respects so simply and preparedly that if an enemy take the town... he can walk out the gate empty-handed and without anxiety.” ― Henry David Thoreau
They quarry the river stone. We hit a quarry and are told the road we want to take has been shut due to a landslide. Our detour adds a climb and a few kilometers to the trip. A shame. Our original path followed the Lumi i Drojës on a flat road all the way to the Fan River.
Anyone can purchase land in Albania. You cannot purchase agricultural land. I feel this is a good rule. The land here is fertile and productive. The gardens and fields are rich. You could easily imagine wealthy European countries buying great swathes of land and introducing monoculture and ruining the land. I think about Australia. 53 million hectares of agricultural land are owned by foreign countries. China, the UK, the Netherlands, and the US are the top four. Monoculture and forestry. Albania gets this right.
“There was pity in him for the grass and the flowers; he felt that the trees were his children and the land his child. For a moment he seemed to float high in the air and to look down upon it. "It's mine," he said again, " and I must take care of it." - John Steinbeck
We head through Laç and on to Fushë Milot. It is just outside of Fushë Milot we cross the freeway and the river. The freeway crossing is stairs, an overhead bridge. In the distance, we see our bridge and river crossing. It is closed to cars. The bridge looks to be collapsing into the Fan River.
We look at the bridge. It is definitely falling into the river. We check the map. The next river crossing is quite a detour. We start carrying the bikes over the freeway overpass. Shell notices a lone pedestrian crossing the bridge. We decide it is safe. We get across no problem.
The Fan is a beautiful river. The bed is river rocks, so it runs a light aqua in the deeper currents. In the shallows, it is crystal clear and bright green. We follow the Fan for about 10 km. It is easy riding with the exception of the packs of wild dogs that live on the river banks. They bark, give chase, but without conviction.
“The river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men.” – Mark Twain
We turn off the Fan with only a few kilometers to our destination. Follow a fast flowing stream and hit our place. Nestled in the mountains it is quite beautiful.
Shower and head down to the riverside for lunch. Salumi, cheese, bread, and chargrilled aubergines and peppers. Next is local lamb with roasted potatoes. The lamb is delicious. What has happened to Australian lamb? Albanian lamb leaves it for dead. Strangely, the Australian lamb we used to get in Malaysia tasted better than the lamb in Australia. This is confusing. The lamb legs even look completely different. Long and meaty all the way to the knee. Not some short leg with a cut knuckle.
The entire meal is washed down with a few bottles of local Albanian wine. Like Portugal and Spain, wine is meant to accompany the meal, not to be the centre of attention. It hits the spot.
“Aw I don't wanta go to no such thing, I just wanta drink in alleys.'...
But you'll miss all that, just for some old wine.'
There's wisdom in wine, goddam it!' I yelled. 'Have a shot!” ― Jack Kerouac
We ended up doing almost 50 km today. Only a few hills. After a very big lunch and too much wine, we see out the afternoon in our room planning tomorrow's ride. We are just outside of Rubik. The roads lead nowhere. We will backtrack along the Fan and head to Shëngjin, just north of Lezhë on the coast.
Mountains one day. Beach the next.
We can hear the river from our room. Read. Bed.
Today’s ride -