Our three day run of good weather came to a halt!
I had slept restlessly listening to the rain on the roof and trying to think how I could reconfigure the route. The route today was one of those key, lynchpin ones, tying up with the final two days on the eastern side of the Adriatic. I knew there were no possible Plan B’s.
I arose early to look at various meteorological forecast. I tried multiples sites and could not find a positive one! The forecast was for rain all day. Heavy rain, headwinds with the possibility of lightening. Temperature? Cold.
The accommodation host, Soly, tried to persuade us to stay an extra night, but being a key leg, that would not work. We have a ferry to catch from Split on Sunday night. The bikes are ready to go, just need to refuel first.
We pop down stairs…all 4 levels to find our breakfast. The waitress has worked here for 10 years. She is a chain smoker. She sits outside smoking and pops in if she needs to do something. During our breakfast she had 5 cigarettes…we know this as she sat outside our window. I do hate the smoking here as it rattles my asthmatic lungs badly.
Our host Soly is an interesting chap. Whilst he was born in Croatia, his parents are Albanian and refugees from Kosovo. They live in the building together, seemingly all occupying a different floor.
Our last views of Bakar, with the weather looking out beyond the port looking a bit yucky. Our direction, of course!
We took very few photos for the first 80 km of the ride as it rained, and rained and rained. Occasionally it would ease a tad and we grabbed a couple. The weird thing today was that the sky never matched what was being dumped on us.
There are some rain spots on the lens in some of the photos. One of two reasons we don’t stop during rain events. The second is you get too cold.
We were on the road below for quite some time. Not one car came in either direction. It was extraordinarily barren and no sign of human activity, bar piles of rocks and occasional cow dung. On a nice sunny day, the view would be extraordinary. Great place for a quiet shack.
Here I come wet and bedraggled.
Right on 1 pm the rain stopped, just like that. We thought, excellent! There were many big puddles and localized flooding.
Alas we were out of luck. It turned out to be the calm before the storm and it started to really bucket down big time, far heavier than earlier. We both got quite cold as the head wind chilled us. We had been climbing most of the ride and having started at sea level were now over 800 meters above sea level and had already climbed 1200 meters.
Worse than the rain, the temperature had dropped to a mere 4 degrees and we were potentially in a spot of bother and risk of hypothermia.
On short descents we were both spinning our legs trying to generate some body heat. We had not passed through any villages for 30 km or so. The last one we saw we grabbed coffee and supplies.
Out of the blue, in the middle of nowhere, at an intersection was a pub!
I went in dripping water all over the tiled floor. Patrons all stopped to turn and look at me as I guess my wet attire was not a common site, particularly in such crazy weather.
I asked if they had hot soup. Yes! So we had a hot coffee and a bowl of hot veggie soup. Never had soup tasted so good. Tony held his for a long time trying to warm his hands up,
We got into all of our remaining winter cycling clothes. For me, full legs and my yak wool body shirt and snood were pulled out.
Unbeknown to us, we were being watched by a guy who asked where we were headed. Gospic. He threw me the keys to his car and said check it out, I will take you!
I asked where he was from – Switzerland, and he was heading to Zadar. I asked a few questions trying to get a quick gut feel, and his responses were not open. Hmm I thought.
His offer seemed almost too good to be true, and it was, as he had a sports Jaguar! Nice car but two bikes were not going in there. He insisted we break down the bikes and try but we knew it would not work. Then he cracked the shits with us and got stroppy.
That confused us and we both thanked him for his kindness and he indicated to both of us he was pissed off we were not traveling with him……hmmm…..Wolf Creek came to mind!
So he stormed off in his lovely Jag as we headed out into the rain. We discussed him a fair bit thereafter.
Our goal had changed to making it to the 90 km mark ( a further 18 km) and we would grab accommodation at that town.
The weather Gods must have decided that they had given us enough of a hard time for one day, as it stopped raining perhaps 5 minutes after hitting the road. The wind stopped blowing and the temperature rose to 8 degrees!
Our km rate picked up as we had done most of the climbing and the road flattened somewhat, and we got to the 90 km town quite quickly. We both felt quite comfortable and decided to kick on to our original destination.
A few photos after the rains.
Then a miracle happened. Can you see it? Blue sky!!!! That really lifted our spirits.
You can tell I have warmed up….my rain jacket is flapping! The sky…and the temperature kept increasing up to 12 degrees! A bit further on I needed to remove my snood and red jacket ( under my rain jacket) as I started to sweat on the climbs.
In the far distance you can see some snow on distant peaks.
This is the Lika River we crossed shortly before arriving in Gospic.
We were so pleased to arrive in one piece. It was a tougher ride today at 138 km in length, and just over 2000 meters ascent. We had started at sea level this morning but now just under 600 meters above.
When you look at the graph below you can see why it was tough to have the rain, wind and low temperature for the first 70 km.
The lady at reception at our hotel in Gospic, said that they had been worried about us as the weather had been awful in town. They had a great spot ready for the bikes.
A few minutes after we got to our room, there was a knock at our door. The receptionist had a bowl of what she called ‘sweet Croatian treats’ for us. They looked so much like the Dutch Oliebollen’s. I was so touched by this generous act. They were so nice as we were famished.
Today was a day that tested mental tenacity. It would be easy to give up, but we did not despite the weather gods. They eventually came good!
The route we rode today would be awesome to do again, in brilliant weather! Croatia is certainly a beautiful country and we have two more days riding here, plus a day in Split before our ferry across the Adriatic to Ancona (Italy).
Thanks for reading,