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Bicycling in Albania

Hello,
I am currently awaiting my deployment as a Peace Corps Volunteer and though I'm not 100% sure, I believe I will be serving in Albania beginning in March of 2015. For those of you who don't know, Peace Corps deployments generally last 27 months. Naturally I'm a little anxious to see which aspects of my here in the United States I will have to part with for two years. What worries me the most is the thought that I will not be able to continue bicycling and, more specifically, bicycle racing once I deploy. I have been unable to find any information about road cycling in Albania besides a few accounts from bicycle tourists traveling through the country.

Amateur bicycle racing is popular throughout Western and Central Europe, and I have been able to find quite a bit of info on it in countries as close as Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. I was wondering if the sport is popular in Albania as well and whether there was anyone who could tell me a bit about the cycling culture in Albania in general. At the very least I would just like to know whether it would be considered immodest or inappropriate to ride wearing a spandex/lycra racing kit.

Thanks

Welcome in albanian after one years. Nothing problem in Albania the live here is the same as in Croacia , Sllovenia, Greece  and Italia. We are the same people ssa all  west europian country.
You can see here :https://www.facebook.com/pages/Federata-Shqiptare-e-Ciklizmit-Albanian-Cycling-Federation/161681173920800
All the best!

Hey we are in Albania, been here for a year and a half. Cycling is a bit dire here and minimal from a racing perspective... a bit of road racing, mostly in nearby countries and some mtn bike racing, again in nearby countries.

When we moved here everybody said don't bother taking your bikes and even now, locals are aghast that we go out and ride... for fun! We brought carbon road bikes and mtn bikes. We have ridden the length of the country through some spectacular scenary (Vlore to Sarande is bucket list stuff, check it out on Google Earth). There are a few very good cyclists.. unfortunately hamstrung by a dysfunctional sporting system (see the link added by the other user) where asking where the funds for a race went, is enough to get you kicked out of racing as happened to the National Team last year. Still, these guys ride and are just happy to have someone keen tag along with them... even better if you can keep up, which is not easy!

Mtn biking is unreal and totally undeveloped! FS cross country bike and your climbing legs recommended. Better get a GPS and fine tune your google earth skills. We are here until June 2015, so it sounds like we had better get together when you arrive and we can introduce you to the guys and show you where we have been! Do you know where you will be posted with PC yet?

Thanks for responding. This is what I like to hear. As long as I can get my racing "fix" a few times a season, I think I will be fine. I love having an event to train for, even if it's just one race. And the tougher the competition the better. I do not know where in Albania I will be completing my service, though there is a good chance it will be in north near Montenegro due to my experience with Serbian. However, I do know that I will be training in Elbasan from March till mid May of 2015.

Right now I am debating whether I should bring a bike with me or whether I should just buy one when I get there. There is a limit to how much the Peace Corps lets one pack, and shipping a bike from the United States would cost more than buying a new bike. I imagine if there are some serious riders, as you said, that there must also be at least a few decent shops with a good selection to choose from. Italy is just a stone's throw away after all.

Meh, good bike shops, not so much. They will be working on your steed along with motor scooters, chainsaws and cars. They will often tell you they can do anything you ask, but then you find out later they had no clue and messed things up in the process... or did not have the right tools or screwed up some essential part and stuck it back in anyway (my experience with a spoke replacement on my $500 back wheel....). Bit worrying actually. On a road bike it might not matter so much, but on a full suspension MTB, with lots of hydraulic seals and such it could be problematic. Some decent used bikes can be found if you go to the right place in Tirana, but it is hit or miss and often there will have been some 'work' to pull a component off and replace with some more inferior parts... let me think now, full XT components with a cheap cassette....hmmmmm. Not sure where they source their stock, but perhaps better not to ask.

We do most of our own work and mail order bits and bobs from the US.

If you have a decent set up, bring with would be my recommendation. Italy is close, but even there buying a bike for a decent price will be hard as you pay in Euros and stuff is spendy.

Elbassan has some good rides out from there... one in particular is the old Tirana- Elbassan highway that is now defunct since they opened the tunnel and new highway last year. It's a great deal for us and gives you a 60km 5000foot of climbing quiet ride along the ridge line with awesome views. The weather is usually fine at that time too, so no need for heavy winter riding gear.

Hello, and sorry it's taken a while to rely.
I have decided to replace one the two bags I am allowed to bring with me with a bicycle (in a bike bag), so that solves that problem. I am going to bring my carbon fiber cyclocross bicycle, since I can outfit it for road riding, gravel grinding, or some non-technical single track. 2wheeleddip, do you have any recommendations concerning where local cyclists meet in Tirana or Elbasan? Also, given that I am still very far from conversant in Albanian, does your riding group have any English speakers in it? I will be arriving in Elbasan on March 15th and was hoping I might be out and riding within a week or so.
Thanks

"Locals are aghast that we go out and ride ... for fun." - This made me chuckle :)

Hi, I am potentially going to be moving to Tirana from Australia at the end of January 16. I am a keen cyclist and race at a fairly competitive level and I was surprised with the lack of information regarding cycling in Albania. I found this post very useful but it's got me a little worried about the lack of racing options, bike maintenance support, etc. I was just wondering if there are enough cyclists around to do group training or whether the majority is going solo. Any help would be appreciated.

Check your inbox- I sent a PM.
C

Hi 2wheeleddip,
can you tell where is the place in Tirana you mentioned can buy used bikes? are prices ok by US/UK prices?. Thanks

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