Ode to Asphalt


I’m in the middle of a giant mountain range where even the summer can’t melt the snowy peaks. Alarming level of exhaustion generated by the day-long pedaling on a gravel mountain road is disturbing my enjoyment in a spectacular view. I just want to reach Theth – a small mountain village in the Albanian Alps. My rational mind is telling me:” Theth is in a valley and you have been pedaling uphill and downhill, so the next 20 kilometers should be plain with a chance of a small knoll.” It should have been like that, but I didn’t expected that the road was in fact dried riverbed. We have been ranking roads in 6 categories. The first one is for the pussies, while category number 6 is turning you into a frustrated, cursing redneck. This riverbed is in the 6th category. I’m turning the pedals but I’m not going anywhere. It’s like an exercise bike. My melted brain is signaling me that Alen is also in problems, and we’ll have to push our bicycles through the rest of this “easier” way. After all those moments, my engine called the will is shutting down. I’m transforming into a wicked monster of the Albanian Alps. My tongue and common sense are not connected anymore and I admit that I said some words that should have been censored. Let’s just say that a soft version is: “While other boyfriends take their girlfriends to nice places, I’m pushing the bicycle through these damn Albanian Alps!” His answer offered me two choices:” Go back and pedal 80 km through the same way uphill and downhill, or continue pushing 20km until the village.” None of the options have been satisfying so I choose a third one. I theatrically let off the bicycle, and waterfalls of tears flowed down my cheeks. After I howl cried, we continued in a slower pace. We were pushing the bicycles when we couldn’t pedal. If I hadn’t snapped like a popcorn we probably wouldn’t have been cooling our heads in every stream that hads been intersecting the road. We wouldn’t have been swimming with crayfish in small pools under the waterfalls and definitely there wouldn’t have been so much good material to make fun of me.


We are on the dirt road descending toward the mountain river. Day is nearly over and we still have 24 km to the next village. I can see how a color of the road is changing in the distance and my map says that’s because it’s asphalt. I’m happy that we’ll finish this day by pedaling like normal cyclists. We are crossing the wodden bridge and Fata Morgana is melting our smiling faces. It seems that my map lied to me and those are just rocks of a different color. I’m turning my head to see Petra’s green face. She looks like a miniature Hulk while strangling me with her eyes. She is tired yelling and drooling at the same time. Mountain, rocks and bicycles become her worst enemies. “What kind of a boyfriend are you?! While others take their girlfriends to the seaside and hotels, I’m pushing this damn bicycle in this shithole!” Her mad look shoots right through me. I’m calming her: “Petra, you can continue 24 km by pushing this bicycle or you can go back to the nearest town 60 km over the mountains.” Moment of silence is interrupted only by the sound of the river. We are continuing. Wheels are getting stuck between the big rocks that have slided down the steep slopes. Suddenly, sun ray lights up the asphalt! In my head I can hear a choir singing glorius songs. This sticky, gray and smelly mixture has never made me so happy before. This time it is for real! We are laughing like crazy and I’m taking videos of us laughing like crazy. While adjusting the camera, I see expression of horror on Petra’s face. What the fuck?! Not again! Ten meters ahead rocks and dirt are smiling to our face again. My soul is hurting me while I’m looking at the sky and asking myself: “Where’s the logic in that?” There is no logic and no asphalt for the next 3 days.