Novi Sad – Belgrade

Novi Sad was crowded. Lots of people and was a lot smaller than imagined when looking onto the map. Downtown was nice and beautifull and so on. Nice old bricks and people selling flowers and people playing guitar all over the place – super annoying if you ask me. If they should give them money to stop and leave the old center I’ll be happy to donate one of my kidneys.

The motel was crappy, poor wifi from the last century and a shower from the 18th century. I survived breakfast for now. Novi Sad for a citytrip ? Forget it.

The road leading out of town towards the east was like cycling on the shoulder of the main road in between Brussel and Antwerp A12. No shoulder and drivers probably got their license free when buying a package of washing-powder. Hopefully it’s of no use in EU ..

A steep climb was about to be eaten alive as some small girl on a racing bike passed me. I switched to the 53/11 and kept up with her for a while. Just joking, 36/28 or something was more like it.

The cyclist was Maja Savić, member of the BTC city Lubijana team. We exchanged thoughts about these dangourous roads. She was used to it but even I as an amateur didn’t encounter these kind of crazy drivers in Belgium. She was doing some 16 km/h uphill as my pace was kind of ok.. Can’t loose that wheel right now 😉 As we progressed towards 300 meters asl. the top of the climb was there. She had to turn right and since this climb was here warm-up it certainly was for me. I continued straight on towards Belgrade which I saw in a very far distance about 50 clicks away.

I continued on a parallel road trough some cornfields when leaving it I encountered another road-cyclist. I’ll call him ‘James’ lol.

I sat into his wheel for some 20 km since the wind prevailed from SE, right ahead of us. He was progressing at a speed of 30 km/h and my breakfast was about to be digested for a second time. I had to give way but he slowed down and my extra 25 kg’s were no problem for the rest of the ride at a pace of 25 km/h. We had a drink at some local shop and we discussed cycling in it’s broadest form possible. He has earned his marks in Serbia in cycling, what’s the chance to meet 2 of them in one day lol.

Sniffing in the smell of Belgrade, I suddenly saw I missed a part of my equipment. My top-end of my plastic bottle was missing ! No more slurping and lucky to have a big plastic bottle as a spare ! I’ll have to search for a spare one in Belgrade.

Cycling into Belgrade was from about the 5 mile radius kind of ok. Separate bicycling roads and even a working elevator to bring me down from the city bridge over the Donau with a working airco into it !! Eat that Antwerp.. Since Belgrade seem to have an obsesssion with one-way streets I checked them out what would happen if I cycled into the opposite direction.. nothing..

Ready for another citytrip tommorow and happy to enjoy the airco and shower in the motel downtown in these 35°-plus wx-environment.

No more radio since temperatures were just too high to stop on the way. I later on try to check-out the local repeaters here in Belgrade.

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Osijek – Novi Sad

Wednesday I started late as I first took a trip trough Osijek and tried to find, on a seperate mission, some Magura breaking-pads. Since Italy I’ve been checking every shop I encounter and have been able to score 4 pairs up to now ! They really are not common here in SE-Europe.

For 3,5 hours I cycled 55 km to Vinkovci and again, almost melting asphalt conditions and wind ahead.

Nearing the airstrip for sportplanes where Milan 9A2HC resides was easy ifyou take the right roads and not as I did to avoid heavy traffic (once again)

We ate some meat (kebab?) with some fries and salad and a good schnapps. As Milan had some work to be done on the planes and I already installed myself in one of the baracks of the field, I took of with a friend of his to see the town in the evening. No radio that evening as you were about to be eaten alive by bugs.

In the morning over some coffee we checked the radio’s and I headed for Vukovar not much later.

Thanks Milan for the nice overnight stay in Croatia !

As Vukovar came closer after some 25 km’s I looked up some info on youtube. The iconic landmark of it’s watertower is something that is not to be skipped when visiting town. I is in progress of being renovated but they will retain the damage caused by war and only upgrade the inside.

Cycling some 40 km’s further along the main road towards Ilok, the most northeastern point of Croatia, I encountered some very old species which I thaugt were long time gone by now. Still the road was tricky, temperatures were climbing towards 35° in the shade and the wind was in the completely wrong direction for me. Not for the German couple and their teenage daughter cycling upstream towards Budapest !

In Ilok I crossed the border over the river into Serbia. 2 minutes only at each side and did get an entry-stamp in my passport since visiting Serbia is not possible with only a national ID-card of Belgium. In the other direction into the EU, long waiting-lines for LKW’s were kind of standard as I heard.

As roaming-charges here weregoing trough the roof,I bought myself a tourist-sim from the national MTS-network in Backa Palancka, the first Serbian city when cycling into Serbia. No ID or anything else was asked and for about 8 euros no problemo !

Had a lovely meal for 7 euro’s and two beers of 50cl in town. I still had to cycle some 40 km towards Novi Sad over some heavy used roads. Getting into the city was like cycling over the Leien, switched over to the biggest gear and cycle 30 km/h to avoid being crushed as the bicycle path was a theoretical one for childrens bikes.

No radio today as I was happy to survive yet another dah in this heat. Stopping along the way takes alot of energy ; finding a olaceto stop in the shade, as high as possible, no on-lookers, getting everything out of the bags and seeking repeaters takes some time and energy while sweating already as a horse. Just keep on cycling and being cooled down by the wind is what I prefer right now.

Pitomec – Osijek

On Tuesday I was in for a long trip towards Osijek. It would finally take me 145 km and 7,5 hours of cycling to reach the city. In 32°C + conditions the tarmac reflection made it even worse to cool me down. This time my cool helmet would’t help me. The first few dozens of kilomters were ok, local roads and almost no traffic.

Houses were sometimes build of things I nevere imagined possible one could build houses with. During the day SE-winds made it even harder to cool down. Pedal harder to reach some 15 km/h and sweat even more. Trowing of the bags from the bicycle would work to maintain an even quicker pace but still, that was no solution. Stopping every now and then when there was some shade did help but not too long.

One one of those stops I contact Milan near Vinkovice on 145,650 Mhz who invited me to come over the day after tomorrow. That sounds great but first make it to Osijek and have a shower and enjoy the city.

Nearing halfway the local roqds changed into a more regional road and traffic increased by a dozen times. As the wind came from in front of me I couldn’t hearthe cars and trucks getting nearer towards me. That’s where the small mirror comes in handy ! But still, you got to check it like every 30 seconds or so. That, together with the fact that the right-hand side of the road was kind of curbed out and dangerous to cycle on, got that I watched concrete and my mirror for 95% of the day.

I did stop for some icecream and charge the smartphone at a bench from time to time. What the designers didn’t had in mind was thatthis bench was as hot as an oven .. Also nice to bake some bread but not for placing your bum on while slowly charging lol.

Getting nearer to the city some bicycle roads popped up. But, as in almost every town they disolved into the big nothingness closer to the historical city where the law of the strongest prevailed.

As I’m now getting closer to the east-part of the timezone, it gets dark at around 21:30 local. Imagine switching over to wintertime o’boy. It would be dark at 20:30 local and get light at 03:45 o’clock … Some boneheads that will try to accomplish that I kindly propose to work and be a tourist in the real world and not in Strassbourg.

Osiejk was a nice little city but not more. A small very touristical strip alongside the river Drau, some old fortification and thats about it. Didn’t get any repeaters in downtown, qrn was high.

Varazdin – Pitomec

Took of early towards the Drava river and go eastwards just south of the border with Hungary. I hoped to cycle along the riverbanks but not so this time. Heavely degraded gravelroads and some parts were flooded. Followed the local smaller roads which led me into smaller villages. Weather was great, 30 degrees and up.

Ar one point one could cycle on the bank of the local Jezero or lake with at one end had an hydroelectric dam which was as it seemed a blessing for local fishermen. The water did had a cooling effect on me which was very noticable.

Further along the route the lake stopped and only water and beer could make some difference.

Cycling without any tshirt ? Not for me as I would get first degree burns on wy white skin very quickly. This guy however had no problem in doing so even at a pace of 25 km/h. I managed to follow him for some miles and then he turned of to some smaller lake. Every time we encountered a holey cross he made a little prayer. For good luck, he said in some kind of Bavarian German.

Later on I asked for small directions and about the quality of the road concrete/asphalt/.. The lady of 73 yrs answered in good English. She, as the chat went on as we cycled further, was a regular listener of RTL on mediumwave in the 70’s and learned english but never used it..

As today is was Pentecost this egg was a surprise. The towns in the greater area were filled with this ‘thing’ at their main squares. It had a ‘naieve’ art with sceneries of daily live troughout all seasons.

The first village with ethnic Romani people showed up some 40 km from Pitomaca. About a dozen houses in poor conditions which had no marking of any kind on the map.

EU was and still is investing of subsidising wheat and farmland.

On another note ; VRT had some ecological Mira production over here. It must have been such a succes they erected a semi-permanent placque for remembering it lol.

Cycling the wrong way or getting lost ? Not today.

Markers were sometimes plentyfull but sometimes stood out of it by abscence.

In the evening had some pasta and salad in Pitomec while the local choir sung away and continued for some time even without lots of spectators.

Ended up in this small motel where I could trow the endfed in a tree and as it turned out, local qrn wenttrough the roof on 40 to s9.

Still managed to get some contacts with ON6ID, PC5Z, ON4CCN and Peter ON7BJ. Reception on 80 was ok so was 20 but no stations on the last one. RX on mw was good and some small Roumanian stations popup up.

Cycled for 126 km in 6,1 hour moving time.

Zagreb – Varazdin

Cycling out of the city of Zagreb was horror. No decent bicyclepaths to be found or they were small (+-30cm) qnd situated on the pedestrian road which was extremely anoying for both users. The concrete was a leftover from commie-times except for the mainroad for cars which was in mint condition.

I tried to go north trough some hills but had to make an unexpected detour due some kind of rich-man’s-hobby to block the road and blow toxic fumes in the air and drive as quick as possible. The rally was not to stop any time soon so I looked for some goatpaths nearby which led me finally to Marija Bistrica. 90% retiries, grey hair and shops with many candles ! No I was not in Scherpenheuvel but it very much looked like it. Sent some postalcards from there and had icecream.

The more local roads were quit hilly and potholed all along. Saturday-traffic was too dangerous to test if Croation drivers were prepared to encounter a bicycle on the road. Varazdin was reached in the evening but no violin to be seen.

It had a nice city center where some music festival was going on as was some beerfestival.

No amateurs heard during daytime on 2 nor 70 cm’s.

Sernica – Zagreb

The Sava valley to Zagreb led me across the Krsko nuclear plant into Croatia. I passed the bordercrossing of the Schengenzone and was controled two times on each side of the border. Just before the border I met Samoc S56ips and had 2 beers and chatted away !

As time flew and I cycled the first meters in 9A-country the first deviation poped up. Some 2 km’s and two Kemmelbergen later I showed up on the same road some 100 meters futher than the border … No active roadworkers to be seen.. I followed the buzy road into Zagreb which had no cycle roads or they should be very well hidden. I jumped into a small motel as I hate city-campings.

Next day some citytrip ; I saw JC Junker on the old main square. During the day he crossed my path three times. Visited some old buildings and a big scraper into the center which had a nice lookout of 360° onto the citycenter some 80 meters above ground. Visited the postal communication museum and the Nicolas Tesla museum. The last one was mainly for kids and had a guide which led us trough the local miningcomplex in 5 minutes, she had to be home for bbq or something. The planetarium was only in Croatian language. Some nice old planes and old farmerjunk along with some generators and engines. I walked to the Croation tv center to find out they have no visitor centre. Walked back and was wasted for the rest of the evening due to sauna-like conditions outside after I visited some party-on-the-hill with too many people. No wolfpacks to be seen on the street which was nice !

I heard no-one on the local repeaters.

Nazarje – Sevnica

Wednesday morning had a sunny start, stowed away all the junk in the bags, ate some Hofer-breakfast and did some radio. Janez S52jan and I had after repeater contact an eyeball contact in cafe Bunkici where we met some Dutch friends of his who lived in this neighborhood for some years. We spoke 4 languages and had some ‘saucijzenbroodjes’ at their place. Around 13 o’clock I headed of east for Celje along some high-traffic roads. The more local ones in the valley were winding roads going up and down but kept the legs in shape and the coffee out of the system. Already early in the afternoon I heard thunderstrikes just North of me. Kind of managed to cycle in between them and stopped in Centjur for some Calzone !

Cycling up and down to some 700 mtr asl to Vejice to get in to the Sava valley to avoid main road, not the easy way lol. It would get me to the town of Sevnica on the road to Zagreb, Croatia.

Already at the beginning of the town Freddy and Mateo where standing there to lead me into the village, it wasn’t easy to miss since Freddy was waving fiercly and i was kind of the only bicyclist probably coming down from the moutainpass. It was closed for traffic btw. but as a cyclist its kind of easy to bypass some heavy machinery that blocked the road. I followed both hams into town where freddy s56cuv arranged a room and spaghetti for me. I needed it because the last miles speed went up to about 27 km/u to keep in the wheel of Freddy’s new vehicle which had a real /bicyclemobile on it 😉 Later on that evening Tilen S56ct joined us at the bar as did some 8 other members of the soon-to-be erected new radioclub in town. Members where from all ranges across the qrl-spectrum, that’s kind of similar in on-land. Tilen is the on4pc and more of Slovenia. Had a nice time there and the bar shut down at 23 and went to a real bed. M my back isn’t in the same shape since the Can-US-trip ..

Then next morning Tilen invited me to join him and cycle along the hotspots in town ;
– the house where the parents of Melania aka. ‘Muse’ live. I saw her father driving out of the street and waving back at me in the mirror of his big probably MG-car. Her turned back probably checking what these bicyclist and the one with heavy bags where up to in his street lol. I didn’t took any pictures there as is more common in LA ..

– castle or Grad Sevnica on one of the slopes was very nice and can be rented for parties as they had one later today in a big partytent for a wine tastery. From up there nice views on the Sava valley.

– river bank cycle trail going east leading to a hydro-electrical dam where a big rafting-accident happened some years ago.

– bar central where we met up with Freddy and ate some local saucages and bread, thx Tilen and a beer kind of soon on the day but it already was warm enough for it lol.

Tilen joined me eastwards in direction of the border with Croatia after saying goodbye to Freddy and giving me some details on repeaters in Croatia, will remember this visit and thank you for the hospitality !