On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

Wise words and coffee at the roadside

By Stuart Lowe on

After a great breakfast courtesy of Ale, it is with sadness I have to say goodbye to the lovely Guest House Dunavski Plićak. First I say goodbye to Ale who has hosted us with warmth. Back at the bike route I also have to say adieu to my cycling companion of the past few days in Serbia - Aurelie. It has been so good to have someone to share this bit of the trip with. Remembering the sign from the Serbian border I wish her safe travels through Romania to the Black Sea and hope the wind is always at her back.

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Adieu Aurelie. She was heading east towards the Black Sea.

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Shepherd on the EuroVelo6. I'm heading west back to Smederevo.

As with the sign I saw at the Croatian-Serbian border, the EuroVelo6 fingerposts all through Serbia have contained words of wisdom for the passing cyclist. Here are a few:

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'Man has never done anything honourable and big, if it were not a folly'

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'What it all comes down to in the end is your legs, determination and the ability to improvise'

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'You can dream if you want but sometimes you have to get out there and do it'

"Travelling makes a wise man better, and fool worse"

I head back to the bridge I used to cross over the Danube the night before. Goodbye EuroVelo6. It has been fun to keep seeing you through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. Now I must leave.

I cross the bridge and bid another farewell. This time to the Danube. I am striking south towards Jagodina and, eventually, Istanbul. My purposeful striking forward is brought to an abrupt halt just after the bridge by a "car-only" sign on highway 14. Drat. I have to head back into Smederevo and take a longer diversion to join it further on.

After crossing a train line I see two female touring cyclists going the other way. I stop on my side of the road but they continue on. I've either been snubbed or they didn't see me. The country is mostly flat now and the road is fairly straight. I keep wondering where would be good to stop for lunch but don't find anywhere. Eventually, at about 2.30pm, I spot two more touring cyclists going the other way. I stop. The first one spots me stops nearly causing the seconds to ride into the back of them.

The pair turn out to be a British mother and daughter - Tess and Francesca - who have cycled 7000km all the way from China through Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria! The said they were cycling from the Venice of the East to, well, Venice. They haven't met many other tourers and seem happy enough to stop and chat over lunch which we scrape together from our respective provisions. They also had a caffettier so we had good coffee too! Nothing like an espresso at the side of the road. Later they wrote about our meeting on their blog.

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Francesca, Tess and me. They'd cycled 7000km from China when we met!

In the past year and a half lots of people have told me I must be very fit, experienced and have an expensive bike to consider cycling big distances. I've always replied that you don't have to be, that I only did two 40 mile test rides before starting, and that I am using my second-hand mountain bike. Like me, Tess and Francesca hadn't done special training. They had just got on their bikes and used the trip itself to train. Cycle touring isn't about being super fit. You don't have to go fast. You don't need a special bike. Tourers can be young or old. Male or female. The common attribute is the mental attitude to just keep going.

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Serbia

The rest of the afternoon continued up the Morava valley along the 158 parallelling the A1 motorway. A few miles before Jagodina (Jагодина) the motorway continued around a headland but the 158 headed up and over a hill giving me a bit of a workout followed by a coast downhill into the town. The internet claimed there was a campsite so I headed for that. It turned out to be up a very steep hill. It reminded me of the ride up to the vinyard back in Oberkirch.

I reached the campsite and found the lady who was working there. She was very friendly and even gave me a beer. We chatted a little in English. She was a trained architect but, with little work, she was working on the reception of this campsite. You could tell that architecture was her true passion and I hope she is able to go back to it.

I was the only person camping there that night. When the owner and receptionist left they locked the gates behind them to keep me safe from wild dogs during the night. I was thankful to be camping with access to a toilet block. The evening finished with a spectacular view of the sun setting over the Morava valley far below.

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Heading up towards Jagodina

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Friendly owner and receptionist at the Jagodina campsite

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Jagodina at sunset