Climate Ride 2019

Learning about sustainable development, dam & hydropower issues, history and ecology while pedaling some of the most spectacular mountains and coast in the world. We are amazed. Thank you intrepid Climate Riders!

Climate Ride ~ Adriatic

September 1st, 2019 ~ September 8th, 2019

Adriatic Ride – Four Countries by Bike
From the Mountains to the Sea
Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania

This four-country road biking tour was a journey to explore the diverse and culturally rich countries that border the Adriatic Sea. Bicycling with Climate Ride through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania, we experienced stunning landscapes from towering mountain ranges and deep blue lakes to the idyllic Adriatic Coast. We found remarkable architecture, charming old towns, classic Mediterranean cuisine, and Southern Europe’s most treasured natural areas.

This was a special Climate Ride Funders Trip and the proceeds directly support Climate Ride’s work. Your contributions to the fundraising have benefited the programs and efforts of Climate Ride including its community scholarships for young sustainability leaders. Climate Ride is working to grow the organization to become an advocacy powerhouse that engages people in the world of active environmental philanthropy and sustainable solutions.

In true Climate Ride style, we biked through four countries, experiencing iconic climbs and descents, and centuries of multicultural history. Through the local guides, we experienced an incredible adventure, together with meeting important sustainability connections. We met organic farmers, conservationists, local development leaders, and national parks managers.

Climate Ride Adriatic
09/01/2019 ~ 09/08/2019
Event Itinerary Overview

Day 1)     Arrival….
Today we met at the Dubrovnik, Croatia airport in the morning. We then gathered in Cavtat, Croatia for a short bike ride around the town and coastal roads, after which we shuttled off to Podgorica in the mountains of Montenegro. During the shuttle, we experienced various landscapes as we moved from the Adriatic Coast into the mountains. Once we arrived in Podgorica we jumped on a train for one of the most epic train rides in the Balkans. The train departed from Podgorica and took us to our our destination, Kolasin, a small town surrounded by the Tara and Moraca Rivers. Kolasin, founded by Turks in the 17th century, is now a destination for winter sports. Once we arrived in Kolasin, we checked into our hotel and then met for a bike fitting, welcoming and orientation meeting, with dinner after that.

Cavtat Croatia: Bike fitting and shake-down ride. Let the good times roll!
Bike exploration and shake-down ride. Let the good times roll!
Cavtat Croatia: A beautiful sunset over the Adriatic Sea. Much like Sunset Cliffs.
Cavtat Croatia: A beautiful sunset over the Adriatic Sea. Much like Sunset Cliffs.
All Climate Rides are amazing as Blake a Caeli are the best leaders ever.
All Climate Rides are amazing as Blake a Caeli are the best leaders ever.

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Day 2)     Biked 43 Miles | Elevation Gain: 3609 ft
Starting in Kolasin, Montenegro, we biked along the Tara River and then climbed to a pass in the Komovi Mountains, a beautiful massif, and the most western outpost of the “Accursed Mountains“, which are shared by Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo.

An early morning start in Kolasin, Montenegro for our ride into the Komovi Mountains.
Biking along the Tara River and then climbed into the western region of the “Accursed Mountains”
We’re not stopping because of the long, difficult climb into the “Accursed Mountains“. We’re stopped to take in the beautiful views and review the information board.
Robert is all smiles contemplating the views into the hidden gems of this beautiful countryside.
Descending out of the mountain heights to the valley below and the town of Andrijevica, Montenegro.
That’s a good sign. These riders know they’re on the right road to Andrijevica.
Andrijevica, Montenegro with the Lim River running along the eastern edge of the town.

We met a representative of a regional development agency at the traditional meeting spot of local tribes in Andrijevica, for an introduction to local development issues, challenges, and success stories. We sampled local food provided by the “Slow food” convivium. We then continued our cycling on to the town of Plav by Lake Plav, a beautiful glacial lake.

Once in Plav, we met a representative of the Montenegro National Park “Prokljetije”, the youngest protected area of Montenegro. In the evening, our group activities  included a meal of local dishes, folklore music, and dances. We split our group, staying in two hotels this night, since Plav and Gusinje are small villages.

The road into the Montenegro National Park “Prokljetije”.
Montenegro is stunning with amazing locally grown food. Riding into Albania tomorrow.

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Day 3)     Biked 69 Miles | Elevation Gain: 4921 ft
Today we explored quiet Albanian mountain villages and then on to the “Balcony of Enver Hoxha”. We biked a road which was only very recently rebuilt and now conveniently connects this beautiful mountainous part of Albania with the city of Shkodra. While cycling, we can still feel that this area was very inaccessible only two years earlier.

Caeli and Nicole entering Albania from Montenegro. Passports and papers please!

The major challenge of today is to climb the “Balcony”, a serpentine road built during the era of the dictator “Enver Hoxha”. On top, we took a rest and to enjoy the view back, before a big downhill to the biggest lake of the Balkans, Lake Skadar.

The “Balcony of Enver Hoxha”
We climbed a steep grade to the “ Balcony of Enver Hoxha”. After panoramic views we had a great downhill through tiny villages to the biggest lake of the Balkans, Lake Skadar.

Lake Skadar is two-thirds in Montenegro and then dips into Albania. On the Montenegrin side, an area of 400 sq km has been protected by a national park since 1983; now Skadar is renowned as one of Europe’s top bird habitats. The park includes steep mountains, island monasteries, clear waters, and beautiful meadows of water lilies. In the region of Lake Skadar, there are 20 monasteries, churches, villages, fortresses and sacred monuments. This lake is witness to Montenegrin history beginning in the 11th century and has been untouched by development or commercialization – at least for now. After the downhill, we continued to Shkodra. This night we stayed in Shkodra, the 2nd biggest city of Albania. For dinner, we visited a “field to table” restaurant near by.

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Day 4)     Biked 45 Miles | Elevation Gain: 4068 ft
Today we biked the southern shoreline of Lake Skadar. Crossing the border back into Montenegro, we explored a remote and very unique region – sleepy villages, ancient chestnut groves, monastery islands, a prison island, vineyards – all surrounded by stunning panoramas.

This beautiful old Chestnut tree breathes in our CO2, sequesters the carbon, and simultaneously exhales the O2 we need to continue riding, all while providing a cool, shady respite from the heat of the day. Thank-you old friend, you’re a breath of fresh air!
Virpazar, Montenegro, straddling the Crmnica river, which flows into nearby Skadar Lake.

Our ride concluded in Virpazar on Lake Skadar, a small fishing village wrapped around its town square. For dinner, we tasted typical dishes from the lake combined with locally produced wine. A representative of an NGO protecting the bird life of Lake Skadar introduced us to the national park and their work.

Linda and Robert, Climate Ride veterans.

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Day 5)     Biked 31 Miles | Elevation Gain: 2789 ft
After breakfast, we shuttled to Cetinje, Montenegro, the former royal capital of Montenegro. We biked across the historical center before climbing to National Park Lovćen, which rises above the Bay of Kotor. At the top of the climb, we found the mausoleum of Petar Njegus, Montenegro’s ‘Poet-Prince’, who is considered to be the country’s most important historical person.

The mausoleum of Petar Njegus, Montenegro’s ‘Poet-Prince’, at the top of National Park Lovćen.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Lake Kotor, Montenegro image
Nicole, Jessica , Robert and Linda enjoying the magnificent views of the Bay of Kotoro.
Hello from the Bay of Kotor along the Adriatic Sea coast. Climate Riders on top of the world.

We descended the most beautiful downhill Montenegro has to offer; the 25 serpentine turns with full panoramas above the spectacular Bay of Kotor. Continuing on, we pedaled right to the old town of Kotor to spend the afternoon in the walled Venetian city. Later this evening. we met with a professor who gave an introduction to sustainable tourism development in Montenegro.

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Day 6)     Biked 52 Miles | Elevation Gain: 4134 ft
In the morning we biked 27 miles to see the highlights of the Bay of Kotor – Perast and its islands.  Lunch was at an organic farm, before our downhill to Trebinje.

Island Monastery
Perast on the Bay of Kotor.
Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a charming, small medieval town.

This small medieval town, located near the Croatian border, is part of Republika Srpska, also known as the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The town is filled with small houses, Ottoman bridges, and is the heart of wine country in Herzegovina. Dinner tonight is at a winery where we’ll meet a representative of a local development organization.

Trebisnjica River Bridge, a medieval Ottoman construction, is in the heart of the wine country of Herzegovina.

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Day 7)     Biked 50 Miles | Elevation Gain: 2264 ft
Today we began cycling along a former Yugoslavian railway track, the “Ciro Trail”, leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina and heading back toward Croatia. We rode by the vineyards of Trebinje, which once were famous for supplying the emperor in Vienna.

Riding along the “Ciro Trail”, a former Yugoslavian railway line. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s version of a “rails to trails” repurposing of old, unused train tracks into useful, tourist-friendly routes through the countryside.
The vineyards of Trebinje, which once were famous for supplying the emperor in Vienna.
Clear, easy riding to cover a lot of ground quickly and efficiently with little hassle. Like a rocket sled on rails.
Almost 150km of ideal bike trail with easy grades, relatively smooth surfaces and no auto traffic or fumes to deal with. Often very scenic views and lush, wild landscape. This is a world class bike project.
Miles of smiles as the Climate Riders enjoy a relatively easy day of level grades, smooth surfaces and no vehicle traffic. We’ve got the bike trail all to ourselves as we traverse the beautiful countryside heading southward toward Croatia.
The solitude of the countryside, uninterrupted by traffic and noise, is a bicycle meditation to be savored and enjoyed.

We crossed the border back into Croatia and arrived at Slano at the coast. We began our last climb before entering the walled town of Ston. To celebrate, we enjoyed a meal of Ston’s oysters and locally produced wine. We shuttled back to Dubrovnik where we spent our last night in the old town.

Pointing out our destination of Slano as we descend out of the mountains, back down to the Adriatic coast.
Slano in southern Croatia, along the coast.
The walled town of Ston, Croatia, and the famous oyster beds in the bay.

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Day 8)     Departure…
After breakfast, we shuttled to Dubrovnik’s airport, where we said our goodbye’s and went our separate ways. I will continue bike touring through the region and beyond. Thanks to everyone on this tour for sharing their enthusiasm and joy and thanks to Climate Ride for providing an excellent opportunity to see such beautiful lands. Ride on!

Finished another amazing experience with @ClimateRide. Riding, exploring, and learning through Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Bosnia. Thank you all for supporting my ride and this awesome organization.