Route GU 01: Gusinje – Grnčar – Lazi – Gusinje
– length: 13km
– total ascent: 120m
– surface: asphalt (7km), macadam (5km), dirt path (1km)
– biking conditions: from spring to autumn (due to a dirt path section the ride is not recommended during or after heavy rain)
– a section of the route passes through a border area with Albania, so one should be careful not to wander off across the border (orientation is not difficult – see below)
This easy tour without any considerable ascents will offer great satisfaction to those who have not previously gained a lot of experience in riding off-road, but it will be interesting and beautiful for seasoned mountain bikers as well.
From the centre of Gusinje we head along the road towards Plav. But since half of the roads from Gusinje lead towards Plav, let us be more precise: we head northwards, straight on towards the mighty mass of Mt. Visitor’s herald called Mt. Greben, which cuts us off from that side of the world.
At the end of the first kilometre there is a junction at which we turn left, onto a wide new road which leads towards the Grnčar border crossing, leaving behind us the road to Plav. We slowly ascend towards the hamlets of Derviševići, Bojovići and Radončići and just as slowly the view towards the valley of the little River Grnčar widens. And it becomes obvious that the valley is a small, clear, blue-green eye blinking sleepily at us below the bushy, serious eyebrows of the surrounding peaks. Its pupil is Gusinje, and along the river it can shed tears, when it is foggy, overcast or cold weather. But on a sunny day the water of the River Grnčar cheerfully shines, rinses and sharpens the views, such that the people of Gusinje can see half of the world without even stepping out of the valley.
And guests will not lack anything either: on one side the flowing robes of Mt. Visitor, and on the other those of the Prokletije Mountains, and between them, the pleasure of pedalling – more than enough to make it time well spent.
At 6.3km from the start we reach a spot some hundred metres away from the border crossing. Here we will turn left off the asphalt road and descend along a short downhill section to the riverbed. There one can see how that thin band can be both mighty and wild when during heavy rain or while the snow is thawing it “drinks a few glasses more”. At that time it rages, dashes against its rocks, crumbles, flows, grinds and takes away everything as it flows. For this reason its riverbed is in certain places nearly a kilometre wide and resembles the riverbeds of the Pamir or Himalayan rivers.
Through that Himalayan landscape, which at this part is about 400m wide, we cross to the other side. Depending on previous weather conditions, we might predominantly ride our bikes, or perhaps mostly push them. In any case, the work will not be too hard – over the stones and pebbles sculpted by the water, along a barely visible footpath which is always well-trodden by the shepherds and others who have to – or love to – pass that way, we soon reach the green bank of the pastures in this area known as Krlje.
We continue along a winding cross-country path which leads us along the boundary markers of the estates, but at some spots it might well run off into the surrounding bushes: in that case we simply proceed straight on, until it comes back to us. If we are successful in taming the path, our progress will go unchecked. If we are not, it might happen that we need to lift our bike over some of the low wire fences which run along the boundary markers.
This leg is also short: only 400m after leaving the riverbed (7.6km from the start), we get onto a bad-quality covered track (if slightly tamed gravel in some places can be called a covering at all) which leads from the pastures right up to the border. We should turn left along it towards Gusinje, but before that we might wish to head right and enjoy this wonderful, isolated “corner” of Montenegro a little bit longer. The terrain is flat and luxuriously green, here and there sprinkled with the odd stone house and the occasional flock of sheep. Everywhere we will feel the unusual presence of some wide mighty river, as if expecting any minute to see before us some sort of Mississippi with its boats: the spirit of the wild and spread-out River Grnčar is apparently so strong that it remains in the surroundings even when there are no real floods any more, making us imagine the raging torrent although there behind the willow grove and shrubs, a little child is splashing in their oversized footwear.
If we head right then, we should not forget that we are approaching the border which is located about a kilometre and a half from there, so it is best to limit our enjoyment and winding over the pastures to the next kilometre.
Back to the “official” section of our tour: advancing towards Gusinje, the road soon becomes better, and at 9.4km from the start we reach the beginning of a narrow asphalt. (On the left a former border watchtower is located.) About 600m further on we come across a well-kept spring (on the right, about 30m from the road).
11.3km from the asphalt, we turn left onto a good macadam road which again takes us back towards the river. But the macadam section is only 800m long – after that the asphalt starts again, which will then nicely bring us to Gusinje, from its north-western side.