Mountain biking is a rather new sport in Macedonia. It had an upswing in the early 90s, according to Macedonian mountain bikers who at the time were real novices and practiced mainly on the slopes of Vodno mountain near Skopje. Today there exist two clubs, one in Skopje and another in Bitola, a city located near the beautiful Pelister mountain. The greatest difficulty these sports enthusiasts faced at that period was the deficiency of equipment, although this problem has since been overcome. Mountain bike spare parts of different quality and prices, ranging from the lowest to the highest, are now available in Skopje
At least once a week mountain bikers, who primarily do this sport for recreation, make single day, or multi-day tours in the mountains of Macedonia. Nowadays the younger and more enthusiastic of these athletes are more and more interested in the sport aspect of mountain biking. The first mountain bike club, G. T. Unitehnika, was founded in Skopje in 1997 and has 15 members. Mr. Ljubisa Kondev, President of this Club, 25, says that their next task will be marking the mountain paths for bikers, such as the ones that can already be found in Slovenia. Of course, the realization of this move is dependent on the donations of sponsors.
A sport included in the Olympic Games, mountain biking has become ever more popular in Macedonia. The First Macedonian Open in recreational and competitive mountain biking categories will be held along a four-kilometer track on the Gazi Baba hill in Skopje on March 22, 1998. Four and ten laps will be ridden by recreationists and contestants respectively with particpants from Yugoslavia and Slovenia, in addition to the Macedonian ones.
Mr. Dimitar Tanev, one of the first devotees in this sport, recommends the mountian Vodno’s paths as the initial leg in conquering Macedonian mountains on a mountain bike. The track starts in Kapistec, a Skopje district located at the foot of Vodno, and leads up to the 104-meter high peak where one can enjoy a refreshment in the inviting atmosphere of the Mountaineers’ House. A part of the 11-kilometer route has to be passed on foot due to the inaccessibility of the terrain. Those who are disposed to continue the trek can use the Vodno summit as a starting point for another 15-kilometer long route towards the Matka lake gorge. There is also an opportunity to return to Skopje through the village of Gorno Sonje, on the other side of the mountain.
Also located in the Skopje area is the Skopska Crna Gora mountain, where a circular route starting from the village of Banjani and leading through the villages of Ravno and Brodec to Ljubanci appears to be rather alluring for mountain bikers.
If you feel more inclined and ready for an adventure, Tanev and his companions invite you to take part in an one-day or a two-day tour along a seven-kilometer route from Skopje to Solunska Glava, the peak of the Karadzica mountain. If you decide on the two-day tour, you should know that the bikers sleep over in the Mountaineers’ House Karadzica, one hour from the final destination on Solunska Glava. Recreationists and those who are not in condition to ride out the whole track can go by car to the village of Zdunje from where they can continue to Karadzica on a bike.
Mountain biking can also be interesting at the altitude of 1300-1400 meters in the Sar Planina mountains. There a paved road leads from Sapka to Lesnica through pine forests and vast pasturelands. One can spend the night at Sataru and the next day go on a mountain picnic on the highest summit in the Sar Planina range, Titov Vrv (2747 meters).
Mountain bikers find it hard to resist the appeal of the Bistra mountain, which has been declared a national park. Their usual route starts in Kicevo, from where they drive to Izvor. From there they ride through the villages of Gari, Lazaropole, Tresonce, Selce, Rostuse, and on to the famous tourist village of Galicnik, where they spend the night in a camp.
There are certainly many other captivating places to cruise in the mountains of Macedonia. The experienced mountin bikers leave it to you to taste the mountain water, to behold the deep skies in which even the Milky Way is visable, and to sense the verdancy, the herds, the hospitality of locals…