It was a fairly sleepless night on the mountain, and we got an early start to roll to the bottom.
I was worse going down than I had been going up. I was terrified of the edge. And this got worse when I misjudged a bend early on and ended up in a pile of gravel. Gravel this time, the rocks below next time?? When three angry dogs circled my bike and snapped at my heels - one connecting with a rear pannier - I was upset and thought I'd never make it down off the mountain. I fought to hold back the sobs welling up in my throat.
Sam gave me some descending tips - about feeling confident and leaning my body into the curve- and we headed down again. Luckily the road became straighter after this, and I was able to safely (and fairly happily) make it to the bottom.
We stopped to take off our jackets and noticed another cycling couple riding towards us. I looked forward to warning them about the mountain, but they didn't stop. Despite our waves and friendly "hellos" they just smiled and kept riding.
We made it to the seaside city of Vlore in the mid-morning. We stopped for a swim and to rest for a few hours. It was a strange beach - more dirt than sand. Yet people were sunbathing and kids were playing soccer as if it was nice sand. There was also a lot of broken glass on the dirt. We had to pick our way amongst it, and clear a spot just for sitting. It was like the beach equivalent of the grocery store we have in Melbourne 'Not Quite Right'...
In the late afternoon we headed out. The city of Fier was just 36km away and we thought we'd easily make it before dark. But the 'road' returned to the rocky, patched up state we'd experienced near the border. And the wind was so strong. I rode behind Sam the whole way, mostly protected, but couldn't avoid the ups and downs afforded by the road. The traffic was heavy and the driving terrible - it almost felt like we were back in Indonesia - where we ended up on the train in an effort to preserve our lives and our bikes.
When we got to Fier we found just two hotels, and both too expensive, so we kept riding...