After another good night’s rest Sofie is feeling a lot better in the morning. Time to get our butts back in the saddle! It would be rather boring to take the known routes via Kolasin or Biograd again, so we aim to try another option. There should be a road across the mountain to Berane. We’ve done part of it in 2014 when we bush camped on the other side of the mountain. It isn’t easy to find it though. There’s a few turnoffs where we aren’t quite sure we chose the correct option. But the trails are just challenging enough to keep things interesting and the views are again just picture perfect. When we finally hit tarmac again we’re not really anywhere near Berane. We are a lot further down the road, near Eko Katun Stavna, another former shepherd’s summer residence turned into a camp site.
That’s ok, it means we’re closer to the crossroads where the trail to Rikovacko lake starts. That’s a much more interesting route towards Montenegro’s capital Podgorica than the main paved road. Not far down the road we unexpectedly pass a small fish farm and restaurant where we sheltered from the rain 4 years ago. The grilled fish was delicious. We’re not really hungry right now but decide to pop in for a drink anyway. The lady who brings us our home made berry juices still recognises us! There fish ponds are all empty now, probably as a results of the weeks of drought in the area.
Our next stop is for navigational purposes, we have to figure out which of the small side roads leads to Rikovacko lake. But while I’m looking at the map, Sofie notices one of the bolts holding my luggage rack is missing. Upon closer inspection I see that the bolt holding the entire rear subframe has also already lost its nut and is working its way out. The rough roads have taken their toll on the bike. In my repair kit I find a replacement bolt for the luggage rack, but no nut for the subframe. Some tie wraps will have to hold it for now. They won’t hold on the trail to the lake though, so we turn back to the main road to Podgorica.
There’s again a burnt smell in the air and smoke lingering in the valley. A few forest fires must still be going on. What’s also going on is major road construction. Trucks are continuously riding up and down this road and huge pilars for a highway bridge are being erected everywhere. Apparently the Chinese have been contracted for the work as there are Chinese labour camps all around.
A helpful text message from Blazo later I have the coordinates of a hardware store in Podgorice where I score a few fresh bolts and nuts. We should be ready to hit some dirt roads again. There’s one place we still really want to visit and that’s Kapetanovo lake. Four years ago we rode a trail through the mountains from the Morača monastery to Nikšić. It was a pretty tough and slippery ride and when we reached the top of the mountain about halfway through we didn’t have the energy anymore to look for the lake that should be there somewhere. Afterwards we found out that we passed at about 500m from Kapetanovo lake. So this time we want to actually go and see it.
We ride tarmac all the way to Nikšić, where we arrive just as a massive thunderstorm kicks off. Visibility becomes close to zero and the drainage can’t cope with all the water. After weeks of draught, the first rain makes the roads turn into soap and they become incredibly slippery, so riding becomes very tricky. We find shelter in a parking lot of a supermarket and wait it out. It is over just as abruptly as it started. Before we ride on to find a place to sleep for the night I find a phone shop to find a replacement USB cable for the one that is failing and Sofie pops into a pharmacy for some re-hydration salts. After the sunstroke/dehydration we’ve learned our lesson and are now adding re-hydration salts to our camelbags. The ones from this pharmacy are banana flavoured, ow yeah! I won’t complain, as long as it does the job of avoiding another sun stroke episode.
The lake will be for tomorrow, so we find a small camp site in Brezovik. The tent is up just in time before another rain shower rolls in. Camping Riverside isn’t the nicest place we’ve stayed so far. The shower is basically a construction site with an interesting setip of temporary electric wiring and extension cords running across the floor. When we arrived we were told we could get some food between 8 and 10 PM. But when we go into the bar around 8:30 we’re told the kitchen is closed. Seriously? In the end we get them to whip us up some chicken schnitzel anyway. Our experience at this camp site isn’t quite over yet. The next day, the half-breed Malinois guard dog who was kind enough last night, becomes very aggressive as soon as we ride off on our bikes. He puts his teeth in my calf. Luckily my boots are pretty thick.
We’ve stocked up on some snacks so we can have breakfast up at the lake. The little road into the mountains is still paved at first, but fun and curvy. A section of hairpins has cobblestones, but beyond that the tarmac continues until we reach the plateau. There are a few remote houses and buildings scattered around, but mostly it is deserted. We make a short stop for some photo’s at a chapel we also passed in 2014. We should be getting close to the lake now. After we pass the little cart trail we rode in on last time we also pass a hiker. It is the only other tourist we have come across so far in this region.
A rock on the lake shore offers a nice spot for our picknick. We ride the bikes over and enjoy the breeze over the lake. By the time we have finished the hiker from earlier arrives and comes over for a chat. It turns out he’s a guide scouting for locations. He’s pretty impressed with our knowledge of his countries’ lakes, parks and mountains. Most of his countrymen haven’t even been to half of the places we’ve visited over the years.
We finish our breakfast with a large cup of herbal tea in the little cafe at the other end of the lake.