Florina, Greece: After 5,000 kilometers it was bound to happen, I suppose. But on Day 71, and twice today?
I refer to four agitated, barking, growling, menacing legs, chasing my two intimidated but faster-moving legs. Today, for the first time on this journey, I was chased by very angry dogs. Twice. And both instances were close calls.
The first incident happened this morning as I was enjoying a tranquil ride through the Macedonian Balkans. There was very little traffic on the road through this pristine area. I passed a single house set back from the road, and before I can shout “fetch” one angry dog is on my tail. I hustled and hustled, and so did the dog who clenched in his teeth a dangling strap from my rear pannier which caused my bike to swerve. Ultimately I had more stamina, but both dog and I were exhausted after that chase.
After that incident I pulled a Fred Flintstone and decided to arm myself with some rocks that are big enough to hurt. The rocks are kept in a strategic position in my handlebar bag. I am not happy about carrying this extra weight, and I never expected to use this ammunition — especially so soon.
Just a few kilometers into Greece, a German Shepherd who was in a bare field some distance from me takes notice and immediately rushes forth, crossing a large gully between the road and the field. Before I know it this dog is on my tail, too. And he’s not getting tired. I grabbed some of my ammunition and took two shots while pedaling as hard as my legs will pedal. I miss both times. Two cars approach and pass me, and that saved me. Darwinian instinct caused the German shepherd to retreat to the other side of the road to avoid getting hit by the cars.
After the second four leg incident I pulled another Fred Flintstone and restocked on ammunition and got a big stick. So now my fully loaded touring bike is loaded some more, and real classy looking with all my new Flintstone supplies.
The good news today is I entered Greece, the 15th country on this tour. I am on the last leg of a long journey. Only 850km separate me from Istanbul — if I do not get lost or make any detours. And if there’s any bright spot to today’s drama, my pace has picked up considerably. I project to arrive in Istanbul on October 12.
Here are a few shots from Ohrid and Lake Ohrid Macedonia taken during my rest day yesterday:-
Day 71: Ohrid, Macedonia — Florina, Greece
Distance: 108.03 kilometers
Ascent: 1,1,66 meters
Weather: The calendar turns a month and the change is apparent. The weather feels like October. Overcast and chilly. For the first time in a long time I layered up today.
TransEuropa 2011 Trip Summary:
Distance: 4,998.07 kilometers
Ascent: 36,739 meters
Countries: 15: Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece
Incidents: 6: flat tires on Days 45, 53 and 56; police reprimand on Day 2; two dog chases on Day 71