Honey & Blood

The far-off silhouettes of Julia Hofmann and Daniel Schaefer make haste under the high afternoon sun, contrasting sharply with autumn’s golden hues. The rolling ridges of the Korab mountains serve up beautiful views of what’s ahead—more climbing.

Honey & Blood The Beautiful Dichotomy of the Balkans

Putting one foot in front of the other is all I can think about.

It’s hot, I’m dripping with sweat and we’ve just begun pushing our bikes up the day’s first climb. I gaze past my handlebars and behold the beauty of a golden landscape glowing beneath a bright blue sky. It’s mid-October in the Korab mountains of Southeast Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, and the autumn colors have reached their peak.

I stop to catch my breath, taking in the immensity of my surroundings before making my last push to the top. As I join my teammates, Germans Julia Hofmann, Daniel Schaefer and our Albanian guide Endrit, at the pass, we look back at the lonely border checkpoint we’d been shuttled through in a four-wheel-drive vehicle earlier this morning. Three men guard this solitary outpost, a recently constructed building with flags delineating the border between Kosovo and Albania.

We’ve spent the past two days riding in Kosovo, starting just outside of Pristina, the country’s capital and largest city. Our plan is to ride across these mountains, which straddle the borders between Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia, and as we dip into Albanian territory, we know we have a long day ahead of us.

This article is for our Subscribers and Plus Members.

Gain access by purchasing an online or print subscription.

Basic Free Subscription
$0 / Year

  • Access to the FH Dashboard

  • Bookmark favorite articles for easy access

  • Browse articles by issue

  • Receive our weekly newsletter for the latest content and special discounts

Sign Up

Plus Online Subscription
$19.95 | Year

  • Online access to the latest print issues the day they hit newsstands

  • Download print articles and take them with you on the go for offline reading

  • Access to the FH Dashboard

  • Bookmark favorite articles for easy access

  • Browse articles by issue

  • Receive our weekly newsletter for the latest content and special discounts

 Get Plus 
Free Trial

Premium Print Subscription
$34.95 | Year*

  • 4 Issues/year of our print magazine mailed directly to your front door

  • Online access to the latest print issues the day they hit newsstands

  • Download print articles and take them with you on the go for offline reading

  • Access to the FH Dashboard

  • Bookmark favorite articles for easy access

  • Browse articles by issue

  • Receive our weekly newsletter for the latest content and special discounts

Go Premium

Already a Member?

Login

With prime trail conditions and autumn colors in full effect, Daniel and Julia let gravity take hold as they enjoy the rewards of the climb. As the region prepares for winter, every last blast of warmth is welcomed. The Korab mountains have numerous 6,000- and 7,000-foot peaks, meaning it’s only a short matter of time until the snow begins to fly.