Sept 26, 2022
Last night as we were getting ready to sleep, we got the news that the 19th, 20th and 21st stages had been cancelled due to weather (rain). Predictions for locations on our route were for 150mm (6″) per day. Instead we would ride in the vans to Tirana, Albania. All through the night it rained hard but just before 7 in the morning it let up for us to ride over to the campsite with our bags.
We had breakfast and Wilbert gave us the plan: take 17 of the riders to Tirana, then come back for the other 8 in a second shift. When I had looked late at night it was a bit over 4 hours one way, but in the morning it was saying 5+. It ended up taking over 8 hours. We packed up and the decision of who goes was settled by registration order, that is, signing up for the trip earlier is better. We piled bikes and bags in and took off in rain at 8:45.
After a while the rain let up, then started massively again. We stopped for a snack, then continued. Finally we got to the border and immediately we could see there was a problem. A long line of vehicles, end not visible, not moving. At all. While it wasn’t raining too much I walked up the line, over the border, but it ended up taking 90 minutes or so – no explanation, just slow.
We drove on, through periods of massive rain, I passed out for a while, then we stopped for a snack. Tom and Graham and Peter and I just had beers, then back in the van for more fun.
I passed out some more then woke up in a traffic jam in the suburbs of Tirana. It took forever but we finally arrived at the Hotel New York which turned out to be a pretty great place. Beer is cheap, the rooms are nice, it’s not crowded and they will even bring in food. First, Bike Dreams provided a bunch of snacks which was great, then we ordered dinner. My pizza came pretty quickly and was surprisingly good. Others were also impressed with their dinners, especially in weight per cost.
We have a rest day tomorrow and rain is predicted to stay strong all day. There is a plan to get everyone else here tomorrow, then we all have a rest day the next day.