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I was writing some travel stories for this blog on a crappy computer in a hostel in Tirana when one of the guests asked: ‘You are traveling by bike, aren’t you?’ I replied I was. I arrived the other day with three other cyclists from Shköder (Winergy, Luna and Lea, a girl that would be volunteering a couple of weeks in the hostel where we were staying). 

‘Mmm,’ he said. ‘Is it your bike with the Rohloff?’ ‘Yeah. Which one is yours,’ I asked him, looking down into the front courtyard where the bicycles of the guests were parked. ‘The one with all the yellow.’ Meet Joris, a good humored, caring young man wearing his heart upon his sleeve, having the potential to be the new Gustave Flaubert if you would ask me and traveling by bike for quite some time at that point. Seeing his radiant smile and beaming eyes, he must have had a great time on the road so far or was very eager to ride with some fellow cyclists.

We talked a little more that day and the next morning at breakfast – Joris got up and out quite early – asked Winergy, Luna and me if he could travel with us. ‘I walked through the city this morning and I do not want to stay. I want to be on the road again.’ We looked at each other. ‘The thing is Joris’, I said, ‘I am planning to go south and these two are heading for North Macedonia, which is east. So I guess you have another decision to make this morning.’ 

Joris decided eventually to go with Winergy and Luna but what I didn’t know: those two had changed their plans and were now heading south as well. The fellowship was with four again. 

The route south was a good one. On Komoot a cyclist described the more quiet road parallel to the A3 (Tirana – Elbasan) as ‘scenic road – absolute cycling heaven’ and he or she was completely right. It was amazing. During riding this road, I got to know Joris a bit better (his nickname, Chris Cross, was by the way also given after trying a candy bar that was named as such). Here’s what I learned from him:

  • Another way of setting up the camping tent (we, as many other cyclists do, have the exact same tent), his way being easier.
  • He, as I do, is a little fed up with the way things are regarding changing the world into a more sustainable and nature friendly way. 
  • According to him L’estaca (by Lluis Llach) is a song worth listening to. I put it in my playlist and not knowing Spanish, I still think it is good.
  • Clean yourself properly when you have the opportunity.