Bicycling Albania

Bicycling Albania-Sarande to Vlore-Map

Bicycling Albania

The Albanian Challenge

Fill ‘er up, please. There are steep hills ahead!
Bicycling Albania, from Sarande to Vlore, is mountainous and beautiful. Tiny villages cling to the edges as the road twists and turns around them. It is perfect terrain for motorcycles! Touring cyclists need to be a little bit warped in the head to ride it with luggage. It is a challenge on a light weight racing bike.

Ride Details

Total Distance: 129 km (80.3 mi)

Total Elevation Gain: 2864.8 m (9,399 ft)

Total Descent: 2864.8 m (9,399 ft)

Maximum Elevation: 1025 m (3364 ft)

Steepest Gradient: 25%

Bicycling Albania-Sarande to Vlore
Bicycling Albania-Sarande-to-Vlore-Profile

Route 2,979,064 – powered by www.bikemap.net

We took the ferry from Corfu Island Greece to Sarande, Albania.

Sarande surprised us with its modern waterfront and upscale hotels.

They are putting a lot of money into rebuilding the capital city.

Although there are many remnants of past wars and Communism, the people presented a very upbeat, forward looking profile. We enjoyed walking the city and meeting the people.

  • Bicycling Albania-Sarande
    Bicycling Albania-Sarande
The only problem we had was bicycling out of Sarande. Not because of the traffic. There is hardly any at all. It was the hill climbing out. It is only about a mile long but it was pretty consistent at 10% with a few 18% grades thrown in for added exercise! It was to be our introduction to the mountainous riding in Albania.

Bicycling Albania-A Summary

Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore
Bicycling Albania-Sarande to Lukov
There are numerous small villages along the route. Very few folks speak any English in these mountain villages. We did, however come to a village where the children were learning English in school.  
Bicycling Albania-Sarande to Lukov
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore
Bicycling Albania-Sarande to Lukov
Fresh garden vegetables full of flavor were easy to come by. But our diet lacked the carbohydrates we craved. Breakfast is not a traditional meal in Albania. We manage to get an egg, hard goat cheese and bread. The Albanians drink strong coffee for their sustenance.
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore

Bicycling Albania is all about bicycling big hills.

One right after another. Go down…go back up!

The biggest hill, just after leaving Dhermi, is really big. It climbs for 7 miles and gains 2550 feet. It is famous among bloggers who have ridden it, or driven it. Known as Llogara Pass, it puts a feather in the cap of all who have made it to the top. Link to a Paul VanPeenen’s  Flickr site to see his marvelous photos of this mighty pass.
Meanwhile, Mike, with panniers and trailer can’t keep up enough momentum to stay balanced. He has to walk the steepest parts.
Bicycling Albania-Lukov to Vlore-Profile
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore-Climbing Llogara Pass
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore-Looking back towards Dhermi while climbing Llogara Pass

From the top of Llogara Pass, it is about a 7 mile breakneck speeding descent.

The reward!

This side of the pass is stunning.

A wide, picturesque valley spreads out below.

May flowers are in bloom.

Mike flies down into Orikum, Albania where we spend the night.

The final lap into Vlore has a lot more traffic, but it is mostly flat.
So, we made it to Vlore. Five days of hard core climbing and flying descents.
From Vlore, we took busses to Montenegro. The road was flat most the way, but the traffic was bumper to bumper and too dangerous for us to enjoy.
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore
Bicycling Albania- Lukov to Vlore

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