Novi Sad (and MTB!)

Mountains?!

Novi Sad and Fruska gora

Sounds funny just saying it: Novi Sad and mountain biking! If you have been to the Vojvodina region of Serbia, you will have seen it is as flat as a pancake!! You can see this from this picture from Google Earth. Novi Sad (plenty about Novi Sad on the Internet – try
the official Novi Sad site for starters, find the English tab) is the general sprawl on the right-hand side, and you can see that the area around seems to extend to an endless, flat horizon! Not much to offer the mountain-biker you may think. That would be very true, were it not for the green area you can see extending diagonally across the picture to the left (south) of Novi Sad.

Fruška gora
That, my fellow velocipedists, is Fruška gora, the nearest thing to a mountain within 100 miles of Novi Sad! It is actually a long hilly area – I hesitate to call it a mountain at a maximum of around 540m (1770ft) – stretching from the Danube river just outside Novi Sad, all the way to the Croatian border for a length of around 80km (50 miles). It is about 15km across at its widest, is a national park, and mountain bikers from Novi Sad call it… home!

Check out the Wikipedia entry for more info.

On-road

It has a limited number of tarmac roads criss-crossing it: the busiest consists of two one-way routes which give traffic a major shortcut from Novi Sad to Sremska Mitrovica which would otherwise take a couple of hours around. Unfortunately, this means LOTS of heavy lorries trundling up the hill at a snail’s pace and polluting the lovely clean air of the park. On the plus side, you can sometimes latch onto trucks if you are feeling lazy, and get pulled up. Also, this route (up to the Iri�ki venac) is quite a hard climb – around 4km of constant climbing up to a height of around 510m and is great for training. I have done it in 17 minutes on my clunky old bike, but it can be done a LOT quicker than that, and I aim to next summer! The icing on the cake is a breakneck descent back down from the Iriški venac, where you can race cars down the two lane forest road (I’ll upload a film one of these days :)).

Minor routes

Much more interesting for bikers, though, are some of the other road routes, like the Partizanski put which runs along the crest of the entire hill. You can basically join it at a number of points and leave it at several points too, so if you want, you can hitch a lift (or cycle, though you are best off taking the north side of the Danube up to the ferry at Futog and crossing there – far more pleasant) West along the Danube, almost to the Croatian border, and then cycle up onto the Partizanski put and follow it East for the 80km or so, almost to the Danube, which has curved round by that time, and descend again. This is perfect for a relaxing summer ride – traffic is very light along there as it doesn’t really lead anywhere, though you still need to have a certain level of fitness to cope with the constant climbing and descending at the top.

Off-road

For the “real” MTB experience though, you need to hit the forest trails. There are actually 100’s of km of marked forest routes, used and maintained mostly by the dedicated members of the local “mountaineering” societies (and descended upon by hordes of day-trippers on national holidays – brrrr….) There are currently no rules limiting the riding of bikes through the woods as there are really very few bikers around – not enough to make an impact on the environment. In any case, environmental awareness is still unfortunately at a fairly low level here, and in my opinion, the Forestry Service do FAR more damage with their tractors and tree-cutting.

You can pretty much head anywhere into the woods and navigate most of the park using only forest trails, and likely meet very few people. There are a lot of steep climbs, though, so be prepared, and the north side of the mountain can be very wet for most of the year round – only in July-August does it really dry out. But the Fru�ka gora is a godsend to any mountain bikers itching to get out into the “wild” and get into training for some “real” mountain biking. There are also a number of mountain biking events during the year, the first of which is the Fanatic MTB Marathon, which covers some similar routes to the popular walking marathon usually held a week or two before. I entered for fun in 2006 (doing the shortest, 35km route) on my famous, 100 EUR bike, described elsewhere on these pages and was pretty proud to come 44th, which was about halfway down the field. Not bad for a rank amateur, I reckon! Roll on the 2007 marathon – I fancy going for the full 80km course this time..!

All in all, Novi Sad has more potential for mountain biking than might be expected, given its unfortunate flatlands location. Fru�ka gora, we love you! However, after cycling the length and breadth of Novi Sad’s very own mountain, the keen biker feel the urge to seek out wilder terrain, of which Serbia has much, and that is what this blog is about…

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14 Responses to Novi Sad (and MTB!)

  1. Zoran says:

    Excelent. See you there 🙂

  2. Cat says:

    Do you have any recommendations on bringing bikes from Belgrade to Novi Sad? I would love to bike around the park.

  3. markowe says:

    Hi,

    Ride it here…! Well, it’s only 80km 🙂

    Otherwise, you might want to check out my bit of waffle about taking your bike on the bus in Serbia. Basically it is doable, just don’t take no for an answer!

    The other way is by train, but I must admit I have not really got into that yet. It is possible, and some trains have a carriage where you are supposed to be able to stash a bike. Personally though, I would go for the bus!

    Let me know if I can help with anything else!

    Mark

  4. Jeff says:

    Hello,

    can someone help me? I am visiting Serbia this summer (2009) and I need help finding good easy bike routes or trails.

    Thank you!

    jeff

  5. markowe says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Sure, there are lots of us who would love to help out. Let us know whether you are wanting to ride MTB or road, off-road or asphalt, looking for something scenic – mountains, or something flatter? etc.

    I would say one thing: most routes, especially off-road, are not marked and you would be well-advised to bring GPS. Then we can fill you up with lots of tracks other people have made.

    Even better would be to say when you are coming and we can probably hook you up with a few like-minded people for some riding.

    Where would you be based?

  6. Jeff says:

    Hey Mark,

    Thank you for the quick response. I will be based in Novi Sad around June or July, I am just looking for something scenic, closer to the city, nothing too crazy, like the GPS requirement, but I do lots of mountain biking here in Phoenix, Arizona, so I would like some challenge. What do you think?

    Oh and yes, I would be very grateful if some people can show me around the city!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, and a thousand more!

    Jeff

  7. markowe says:

    Hey Jeff – I have some stuff on towards the end of July (about the 20th onwards), but other than that I hope to be around so if your trip coincides with me being in NS I’ll gladly meet up, show you around NS and go for some riding too.

    Even if not, I am sure we can get some bikers together who would be only too happy to do so.

    The Fruška Gora, as described above, is quite long and narrow, and there is plenty of riding to be done around it, you can do anything up to a 30-40 mile trip without ever really being more than an hour’s ride from Novi Sad (mostly downhill at that). We can do some roads, some light, scenic riding, tackle one of the tougher marathon trails, or if insanity takes hold, do this: http://www.mtbserbia.com/2007/fruska-gora-mtb-marathon-2007-a-touch-of-madness/ – up to you! Stay in touch!

  8. […] post over at MTB serbia.com about biking around Vojvodina region of Serbia. First, he noted “Sounds funny just saying it: Novi Sad and mountain biking!“. He then went on to explain that, despite its unfortunate flatlands location, Novi Sad, and […]

  9. Hi, I like your site, some very useful information.

    I have a question tho. I am setting off on a bicycle tour in 2 weeks, starting in Barcelona and arriving at the Exit festival. I intend to get to Zagreb and get a train to Belgrade, as you suggest. Would I have difficulty with my bike? I cant leave it behind, nor can I post it back as I intend to cycle to Budapest after the festival.

    Also, my idea was to cycle along the Danube from Belgrade to the festival. Is this possible? What are the paths like along the danube, as I cant really find that much information about this particular stretch.

    If you could get back to me on my email, I would really appreciate it.

  10. markowe says:

    Hi, email sent! Also, I have posted a version of this info here in case it helps anyone else. Have a good trip and enjoy the festival! Kraftwerk this year..! Still not sure I will be going tho…

  11. miso says:

    Hi,

    I’m training for next year’s triathlon season (2010) and I also like traveling… Currently I’m just planning my training for spring 2010 and I like the locality of Novi Sad and Fruska Gora.. therefore I’m considering to visit Serbia for a weekend or maybe a week…

    I see that you know the locality perfectly… I would be really happy if you could allocate some free time and meet me in NS next year to give me some advices (do you like beer? 🙂
    As far as biking is concerned you explained nearly everything in your blog. Thanks! But what about swimming and running possibilities in Novi Sad? (as you know triathlon is composed also from swimming).
    The best for triathletes is to do training in open water, because the race is also performed in open water… Is there any clean open water when I can swim..?

    Many thanks, keep a good work at blogging!
    And btw. I am from Slovakia 😉

  12. Mark Daniels says:

    Hi Miso!

    You’re welcome to come to Novi Sad (in spring, right:?) and I hope I can help you with ideas for triathlon training! I also like beer, yes 😉 Though my wife and I also have a new baby arriving in November, so I am not sure how that will affect things, but I am sure I will have SOME time!

    I am not so well-informed about triathlon here, but I know some triathlon athletes, one of them is a former national triathlete, whom I could maybe try to connect you with, or with one of the clubs in Novi Sad. I know they take their training seriously, so I am sure they can tell you the best place to train! I think they may even train in the Danube, though I bet it’s cold in spring! Running, they probably also train by the Danube, on the flat, but maybe also on Fruška gora. The best thing would be to try to connect you with some triathletes – you could also try hooking up with someone like Ognjen Stojanović (http://www.triogy.com/kontakt/), I guess his English is OK, though I don’t know him personally, but people are pretty friendly here.

    Well, there are some ideas. I am sure a change of scenery would be good for training, so let me know if you are coming to Novi Sad, and also if you want me to try and connect you with some guys from the local club – I don’t have contact details right now, but could find them easily through cycling friends. See you!

  13. miso says:

    Hi, thank you very much for quick reply and for contats and everything… 🙂
    I’m happy to know that there is no problem in going to NS to make training there.. I plan to come in late february or at the beginning of march. The termin is opened, because of my studies.. I will make the termin more precise at the end of January, because it is the time when new semester starts at our univeristy.

    One more thanks and see you! 🙂

  14. Francisco says:

    Hi markowe,

    Sorry to revive a 4 years old post here 🙂

    I will be spending a couple of weeks in Vrdnik on the fist half of October (2013) and I was wondering if it would be worth bringing my MTB with me. Are there good trails out there?
    Is there a place to rent a decent quality MTB in the area? The hotel suggested the “Fanatic ” bike shopt in Novi sad, but it seems that they only rent very basic bikes (3600din for 15 days).

    I am an amateur rider, and I live in the rocky mountains so I am used to tough climbs but I also enjoy flatter trails as long as they have challenging sections and nice sights.

    Thanks!

    Francisco

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