Touring Europe’s Oldest Lake
“We paid the price, since we rode a 20-mile uphill marathon at 1 pm, in mid-August. Sounds great, doesn’t it?”Petar Januloski
As much as I would love, I can’t remember how cycling came into my life, or when it captivated me to the point of no return.
The only thing that I really do remember is the breeze. The air all around me, giving me an incredible sense of calmness, and at the same time, excitement. Deep down, I felt sure that cycling was something worth indulging in.
Since that time, the cycling community in my hometown has grown into a fantastic group of bike-lovers who dedicate every free moment to forging lasting memories and discovering unexplored landscapes left to the mercy of time.
In a region where cycling is viewed as a hobby and hasn’t yet gained its rightful place among the population, reaching—and conquering—areas of timeless natural beauty is the focal point of each journey. A much-anticipated reward for the handful of people who lead bustling city lives, and whose mutual passion is bicycles.
Fast-forward many valleys, forests, and hills later, and my cycling diary reached a whole new level last year during a tour of Europe’s oldest lake, and one of the oldest in the world: Lake Ohrid, located between Macedonia and Albania, in the Balkan region.
It was a tricky, sleepless week even before I arrived at the Lake. I’d just returned from a short trip to Barcelona, and I was impressed by all of the Catalonian beauty. But hey, there is always room for another tour, right?
It was a warm, sunny day. The pines strewn across the mountains shaded us during the first part of the ride, leaving us the energy to conquer the uphill section and capture breathtaking views of the Lake and its bays.
Then, the wind. A 10-mile downhill ride followed, taking us to the border crossing on the Lake’s shores. Afterward, a lunch break of fresh salmon prepared in a wood-fired oven out in the open.
Then, we paid the price, since we rode a 20-mile uphill marathon at 1 pm, in mid-August. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
It was one of the most tiresome—and yet most rewarding—adventures of my cycling life because it revealed to me the other side of beauty. That reaching these heights comes with a price, and that small, decisive steps always lead to significant results — mottos I’ve held dear since that day.
Sixty miles and eight hours later, our journey finished back where we started. We were not the only ones who accomplished it, but we were undoubtedly the most positive and proudest ones!
Not because we finished first, but because of what we experienced during the tour, and what we learned about ourselves from our struggles. Memories and lessons for us to chew on until the next trip.