Day 2 – Klek to Metkovic: Breakdown!
Sunday September 5, 2010, 55 km (34 miles) – Total so far: 129 km (80 miles)
I woke up early with plans to make it well into Bosnia & Herzegovina today. I cycled the 50 metres to the local shop opposite which was the elusive campground. I wasn’t sure how I had missed it last night and I was confused that none of the town’s occupants seemed to know of it’s existence. Maybe it’s a big conspiracy so that the hotels will get more business, who knows!
As I left the local shop the girl working there who didn’t speak a word of English wrote down her e-mail on a receipt and gave it to me. I’m not 100% sure why but I promised to send her on a few photos of the trip.
I cycled south of Klek a short distance to a road which turned off the main coast road and joined up with a backroad which led into Metkovic. This road connecting the coast and the backroad wasn’t marked on any maps, I had just noticed it on Google Earth. When I arrived at it I noticed why it wasn’t marked on any maps. It was a steep gravel and bare rock track. My bike wasn’t exactly designed for this type of terrain but the other option was the busy main road so I decided to give it a go anyway.
After 20 metres fighting up the gravel I noticed something was wrong with the back wheel. There was a huge amount of sideways movement. I assumed the cones just needed adjusting so I continued on up the track ignoring the clicking and rocking of the back wheel.
I continued up the gravel track which didn’t get any better. There were a few sections where the gradient was too steep and the gravel too deep where I had to push. Despite this the road passed through some fantastic rugged scenery which made the hard work worthwhile.
After a bit of a struggle I reached the lone chapel at the top of the climb and descended down the other side with fantastic views of the Neretva Delta and Jezero Kuti to my left. Soon enough I met up with the tarmac backroad which led to Metkovic.
On my descent I noticed my rear wheel had gotten even worse. It would go even further sideways now. When I was on the bike the wheel would lurch off centre and make a horrible clunking noise. This meant I couldn’t cycle in a straight line! To make matters worse I could barely pedal the bike due to a huge resistance in the cranks. I had to spin really hard in a low gear to get anywhere and this was only possible on the flat. I had to get off and push on the uphills. The bike in this state wasn’t going to get me far. I knew I had to try and nurse it to the next town (Metkovic) and hope I could get it fixed there.
As I fought down this flat country road I ran into a Croatian road cyclist who spoke some great English. We had a quick conversation about my trip and about Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Luckily I found out there was a bicycle shop in Metkovic but being Sunday it would be closed.
This backroad made for some fantastic cycling through aging Croatian villages, it certainly beat the busy main road to Metkovic. Unfortunately I was travelling at speeds of under 10km/hr along this road even though I was putting in a huge amount of effort, something very demotivating. To make it worse I had to push up a nice long hill before I reached Metkovic. It wasn’t too bad though and soon enough I was grinding into Metkovic.
I decided to have a look for the bike shop anyway in the hope that the owner would be about.A cycle around Metkovic yielded no bike shop. So I stopped and asked an old guy on a bicycle. Luckily he knew a bit of German, I however had lost most of what I had learnt in the 2 years since I’ve finished school.
Still he understood the problem and told me to follow him. He took me around 2km through town and out into the suburbs where the small bike shop was located. Only the wife of the
owner was there. The german speaker translated for me and I was told to come back at 8 tomorrow morning. It looked like I was spending the night in Metkovic. The german speaker
tried to find out about the acommodation in town for me and it turned out there were no private rooms or motels, only hotels. I thanked him for going so far out of his way to help me and set off in search of accommodation.
I struggled with the bike out to the hotel outside town hoping it would be cheaper but at €40+ it was far too much. I decided to have a look around for a wild camping spot and found an ok spot just outside the suburbs. It wasn’t ideal being situated between a marsh and undergrowth but it was all I could find.
I headed back into town, decided to have a steak and a beer at a restaurant and set myself down in the park and read until sunset. After sunset I headed out to wild camp spot and set up the tent just as it was getting dark. This was my first time wild camping and it took me a while to get any sleep. The sound of the rats scurrying around outside the tent was a bit offputting but I’d have to get used to it if I wanted to get any sleep.