I’m back!

12 months ago I spent 4 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, bang smack in the middle of the Dolomites. It was cold and wet for a few of the days. Will it be this trip?

Leaving Belluno we took a few shots as we walked our bikes around the narrow cobbles streets to the main piazza. The fruit stall and fish vendor had set up since we walked through here last night.

The route plan today was to stick with various cycle routes and paths, as these were options in this area. It would be safer, but slower. We had the day though as it was a shorter ride of just under 80 km. It would be uphill pretty well the whole way, starting our ride from just below 400 m.a.s.l. and finishing at just over 1200 m.a.s.l.

No big towns or cities today, just villages and the outskirts of towns. Here are some earlier photos.

Along the trails there were various signs, water fountains and fantastic views. These trails are shared use with walkers and the occasional car.

You will recall the heavy rains that dumped down only a few days ago necessitating a change in plans. Today we were to witness first hand some of the dramatic consequences. In the photo above, as well as a nice mountain you can see fresh landslide activity.

The bike track went down a slope to this, freshly moved gravel alongside a river. With the flooding, the track was gone.

It was very soft and spongy but at least we got across.

Back onto the road for a short time, off onto a quieter one where we found this herd of sheep being relocated. They were huge with goat like ears. They definitely had a loud baaaa and many wore bells around their necks.

In the next village, a sign indicated that our route was closed. Looking behind us we could see these workers clearing the railway line from landslide deposits.

Whilst we were watching these guys, a cyclist came down the closed road and we asked was it passable for bikes. Yes, but be careful as narrow. We got through without issue, to then switch back onto bike path. Another closure sign but we thought we’d see. Maybe it would be like the last one.

We were riding very slowly and carefully. Just as well because……

Yes it had been partially washed away by the river in flood. That is quite some undercut. In the photo above, you can see the track stops….it no longer exists, and there was just a drop off to the river. I imagine it will be some time before this track is repaired.

A bit of quick map checking and we headed into the road for a few km until we rejoined the bike path and route further along.

We stopped for lunch at a ‘pub’ I’d stopped at last year in Ospital. It was getting a bit cooler and windy. So we made tracks ASAP as rain was the last thing we needed.

The climbing was more intense with a series of switchbacks getting us up around 800m.a.s.l. More climbing to be done.

We eventually turned left to head towards Cortina. There is a brilliant rail trail that runs for nearly the entire length. We went through many small villages, where the old stations have been repurposed. The old tunnels were used for the route, and I think we rode through 7. It was well sealed (with a 3 km gravel section where avalanche barriers and drainage courses are being constructed).

Got to have a Milka first!

On the outskirts of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics ski jump arena. Now in a reasonably bad state of repair. I read that the only issue faced was a lack of snow!

The Italian Army transported snow to the area and the competition was hailed an outstanding success.

In conjunction with Milano, Cortina is on the short list ( along with Stockholm) for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

A few more km of riding to reach Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Here we are! Just a nudge above 1200 m.a.s.l. In winter this place buzzes as a major ski resort. That provides advantages to cyclists travelling with bikes as all the hotels have a ski room, for the storage of skis and boots. Perfect for bikes in the skiing off season.

We have three nights here. You need that as the weather can be temperamental at altitude. We have two rides in mind, totally weather dependant.

It is pouring with rain so we got here before it started. Good result.

The last photo is from the bike rail trail. A cafe has set up and this is outside the cafe.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Knock, knock, knocking on the Dolomites doors

I’ve changed the line of a famous song there, but the Dolomites are heaven for many…skiers, bushwalkers, rock climbers, cyclists and sight seeing tourists, as well as being the backyard home for many lucky Italians.

I fell in love with the Dolomites last year visiting as part of a bike packing bike ride I did with my cycling friend Geoff, returning a few days later with Italy Bike Tours and the Giro d’Italia trip climbing part of Monte Zoncolon and other roads around.

It was on the ‘must do’ list for this years trip so Tony could experience the majestic beauty.

First things first, we needed to complete our crossing of the Venetian Plains. I am not a big fan of the Plains having crossed en route to Venice (from London) on a 2016 bike trip.

Our day started with a beautiful breakfast prepared by our host Wanda. She is a very kind and beautiful soul, and we really connected with her. The first shot is at breakfast, where we are holding her dog Pereuka, who recently delivered 6 very cute little pups.

The second photo is with Wanda as we prepared to leave, only to discover Tony had a flat rear tyre courtesy of a tiny slither or broken glass. At least he could change it in a dry garage.

It was raining and only 5 degrees Celsius. It was a tough first 100 km today as our route was predominantly urbanised, traversing the large city of Padova which took us over one hour to shuffle through, continually hopping on and off the bike, walking over street crossings, scootering, manouvering around chicanes.

The number of trucks experienced today was extraordinary for arterial roads, given the highways running parallel.

In between the there were patches of interesting buildings and features.

In the distance, you can see the Dolomites. That excited us, as we were a bit wet. We noticed a bike shop promoting Specialized, our bike brand, so swung in. Ooh some nice new bikes, and we parted with 55 euro. Tony was suffering with cold hands so we purchased thicker riding gloves for him.

For a short distance we rode alongside this canal. The temperature soared…..from 5 degrees up to 9! I needed to take one of my 4 layers of tops off! Which layer shall I shed?

There were more interesting old buildings in the next town.

Check out the base of these olive trees for sale.

More interesting towns with mountain views closing in.

The last 50 km were great. We started climbing, the lands were green, the towns smaller, and tiny villages. This is what we enjoy. The sites were great. Here are a series of progressive photos that I had trouble deciding what to include.

Riding on village lane we followed this guy for a while. He climbed up the 15 percent pinch quicker than us (a bit further along the road).

You can never get enough of the Dolomites. More views just before our arrival into our overnight town of Belluno.

This is our route and climbing graph.

Today was a challenging day predominantly due to the bad weather for the first 50 km or so, and the amount of urbanised ‘riding’ across the Venetian Plains.

We are glad to be in a more rural setting now, knocking on the Dolomites front door.

Tomorrow we climb up to 1400 m.a.s.l to Cortina, our base for three nights. It will be colder and more prone to inclement weather but my fingers are crossed! The forecasts here change regularly. What will be, will be. We are in an area of no Plan B options so whoever is holding the Sharron bad weather voodoo doll, be kind!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

On the road again

We were so pleased to be back on our bikes as we felt sluggish from not riding the previous two days.

It was a respectable 13 degrees Celsius when we packed our bikes up outside the hotel. These two photos are from the hotel whilst clipping our gear on.

We rode about 10 km of what I now call footpath scootering, hopping off and on the bikes, pushing, criss crossing roads whilst we competed with peak hour Bologna traffic. A few more shots on the way out.

Finally we hit the agricultural flat Venetian Plains. Not my favourite riding as I recalled from our 2016 London to Venice bike ride. You can see some of the crop damage caused by the heavy rains in the top photo. The busy road to the left is the European truck route, and it is packed.

We saw many fields like this with indiscriminate flat spots.

There were also many stone fruits, spinach and potato crops in other paddocks.

The rivers we crossed were flooded, muddy waters with floating debris.

We stopped for lunch in Ferrara, and were highly impressed with the historical town and buildings we saw. We past one of the historical gates.

Here I am riding slowly down one of the many narrow roads.

We turned the corner and found more history.

We settled on lunch at a cafe adjacent to Este Castle “Castello Estense” dating back to 1385. Surrounded by a moat, it has three entrances with with drawbridges.

Walking through the centre there were plenty of old canon balls and wells. No that is not me pushing my bike.

You just cannot eat your lunch in peace in some countries, including Italy. Hawkers hassle you. We were approached by four different guys selling ‘genuine’ articles! This certainly did not happen in any of the Eastern European countries we were in.

The guy below was selling necklaces and beads. He gave this particular couple a really hard go. He did not get far with us….Tony moved him on in ultra quick time!

It was nice to see the sun! That had not been forecast, but totally welcome!

Leaving the delightful city of Ferrara, we headed across the Po River, a 652 km long river that flows into the Adriatic near Venice. It is Italy’s longest river. It flows through a series of channels that Leonardo da Vinci helped to design.

Here it is in flood from the last few days heavy rains.

For about 15 km we followed the river riding on a cycle path on the flood levee. We turned off the levee to head through this village.

After 96 km we arrived in Rovigo. At first glance, less culturally preserved and interesting that Ferrara. Something is seemingly not square here. The house is on an angle. Riding under that arch we were in the central area of the town.

After showering we headed back into the central area to check it out. Somewhat disjointed, there are a number of surprisingly interesting buildings.

The first one we came across you could not miss given its height. It was adjacent to a roundish building named La Rotunda.

La Rotunda was being renovated and we were surprised to find a door open, so we wandered in. Our expectations were blown away and we were amazed with what we saw.

The place was one gigantic artwork.

Some other curios included the local duomo….no doors opened for us!

A few other local photos before we retired for the night.

Tomorrow we head to Belluno, regarded as the ‘front door’ to the Dolomites. A longer day of 150-160 km, depending upon which route we take. We are hoping the rain and winds are kind.

The last photo is from Ferrara. I was intrigued as you could tell this tunnel went under the Castle much further. Secret passages for me are like locked door on towers…mystery and intrigue!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Rain, rain go away

We have had two days of intense rain with flooding and landslides in the Emilia-Romagna region throwing our plans into Plan B mode.

Yesterday was always destined to be a rest day in Split, as we were boarding our ferry to leave Eastern Europe after a brilliant three weeks.

The weather was shite, per the forecast.

We needed to vacate our little apartment by 10am and then kill time until the ferry embarkation commenced at around 5.30 pm.

The day was long, as it was cold and wet and we had two bikes and our luggage with us.

We ventured from cafe to restaurant, spending a few hours at one with outdoor heaters. Check out the size of the base of the olive tree behind me.

Do you recall the story a few days back of our Wolf Creek sports Jaguar driver? The guy who offered to transport us, and our bikes, in his Jaguar coupe? He was the guy who got really crabby with us for not accepting his offer. We have since ridden around 350 km since we saw him.

Guess who walked up to us and greeted us like long lost friends at this restaurant in Split? If I had been sitting on a perch, I would have fallen off in astonishment! I was gobsmacked! Split is a really big city….what were the chances of that?

After closing my amazed mouth, he told us he was looking for accomodation. We bid him farewell. 30 minutes later he reappears with a suitcase to chat again and eats at the same restaurant wanting to know if we were staying the night. We left pronto!

Wandering around the old town here are a few photos. Not many taken due to the rain and trying to find places to keep warm.

Split is famous for the Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. Today the remains form about half the old town of Split.

It is not a palace as you would normally think a palace looks like, but more if a large fortress. There are hundreds of commercial enterprises contained within. Tours are available but the bikes prevented that.

Here are a couple of photos showing parts of the palace.

We headed over to the Port of Split early….hanging around like a bad smell. We were there so long we got asked for Euros over and over and again by the same guys so they could buy cigarettes.

We were two of the first three to board the cargo hold. That was good as it meant we were not out in the rain like these guys. The third person was a German motorcyclist, who told us he realised he had boarded the wrong ferry! He was meant to be on the Jadrolinjia on the left. That is the Croatian government owned ferry company. We were on SNAV, the Italian based one. They run the same time and day schedules! Crazy!

The crew were far from ready for us, or the vehicles. They worked really hard and fast through their duties. 🙈

The second photo is of the wall some 10 metres from where these two are sitting. Maybe they should have gone to Specsavers!?!

Our bikes would eventually rest against the yellow parallel bars. The guy on the left tied them securely.

The guy on the right is new to the job but seems to be fitting in well. He told me he was from the Ukraine and wanted to know if we would cycle there too. Umm let me think about that…nope!

Our last daylight photos of Split taken on board the ferry. The ferry left one hour late as we watched the difficulties they were having with the main rear match door closure.

Plan B for today was activated when we awoke (being woken up at 5.30 am by the p.a.) to look out the window. Damn those meteorologists, they were right yet again.

We decided we would not hang around Ancona and ride north. It was bucketing down and the winds were a 50 kmh northerly (headwind). These photos were taken on route to the railway station.

Here I am googling train timetables and routes.

On the train at 8.42 am and we were heading to Bologna, where the Giro d’Italia had started only a few days earlier. Bologna would line us up with the next day’s ride in what seems to be an improved weather forecast. Not great, but hopefully minimal rain.

As we followed the coastline along what would have been our riding route, this was the consistent view. The Adriatic was smashing over breakwalls.

An announcement was made that due to a river flooding, railway infrastructure had been damaged on the line ahead, therefore there would be a significant delay as they took a longer option to get to Bologna.

5 hours it took all up for what was cited as a 2 hour rail journey. We later learned that there had been significant flooding and landslides in the region. We made the right call!

So now we are in Bologna. It is cold, but the heavy rain has stopped and now only occasional showers.

We are hopeful of continuing our ride, as planned, in the morning.

Bologna is a very interesting city and is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Etruscan in origin, then Roman it is famous for its towers, churches and porticos. The world’s oldest university is here, established in 1088.

Some photos from our walking tour.

The army guards the San Petronio Basilica located in Piazza Maggiore.

The pillars are extraordinarily huge, with the gothic vaulting a feature high up. Construction commenced in 1388. It is the 10th largest church in the world (based on volume).

We also wandered into another local church. It amazes me how much money has been spent constructing, in the creation of sculptures, massive art works and the like. It borders obscene extravagance (notwithstanding my appreciation for the artisans skills). What that money could do for the homeless and impoverished in the world…..

Heading back towards our hotel, Tony ordered a caramel cappuccino. I said I’d try one. This is not what I was expecting.

A fortnight remains of our cycling journey. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

My last picture is from Split, where there is a Museum featuring stuffed frogs! No is the answer in case you were wondering.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

Split

First things first. Back to the sea organ to listen to the beautiful sounds created by the water underneath this structure, released via a series of vents and openings. It was crisp and clear today despite a mob of school kids on an excursion. I was so pleased we swung back here before continuing our journey south.

03BD73FC-2FA4-488D-83E9-9C7121BFA186The first 75 km we did not take photos as we were on a reasonably busy, one laned, no verge arterial road. Eventually our route took us onto less busy roads. Below is the arterial road where you can see zero verge with a cambered gutter you cannot ride on.

We kept our eyes open and wide looking for this wildlife. There were numerous signs, but sadly no razorbacks appeared. Probably a good thing

We did see a few snakes (alive and dead), and some beautiful green and yellow lizards.They are too quick for photographs though.

The snakes creep me out though. I forgot to mention a few days ago, on a warm day, Tony called and pointed…as he veered wildly to the left, there were two black snakes entwined in passion. If he had not called out I would have gone over them. As it was I missed them by inches and their two heads were already 6 inches off the ground…peddle height.

I am not sure what we are looking at. The structure at the top of the hill almost looks like an observatory of some kind?

We pulled off the busy road when a sign appeared for a ‘panoramic’ restaurant’. Certainly a great view. The body of water is the Krka River and flows direct into the Adriatic Sea.  Upstream is to the left under the bridge and into the Krka National Park.

Found a nice table for a rest.

Our route took us to the outskirts of Sibenik, another historic Croatian city. It is the oldest native Croatian town on the shores of the Adriatic.

Our route then turned inland, well away from the Sea. We were totally fascinated by the amount of rock and thick stone walls, in various conditions.

The roads became quite minor and narrow. We turned left here!

More walls.

When you are riding along with hills to the left, hills to the right, hills in front of you and no obvious valleys it means only one thing, You are going to climb!

Tony took this one at the saddle of quite a pinch of a climb that was between 9-11 percent for the most. There was a bit more after it but not as steep. The graph shows the  ashy little climb.

0337C0CA-4ADC-4D85-83CA-010894CA4125.jpegLooking back down the valley

When you are at around 400 m.a.s.l. eventually you must descend if heading to a seaside location. Here is our first view of Split.

We are still about 40 km ride from Split at this point. It is looking like a big city to ride into. Aargh, but it is Saturday so maybe it will be quieter.

Fortunately it was a bit quieter and we made our way into the Old Town without too many hairy near misses.

Once we got to the old section, we walked our bikes. There are numerous narrow alleys, highly polished and well worn cobbles with an extraordinary gloss ( ie, slippery) and tourists galore.

Our accommodation is a tiny 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor of an old building overlooking multiple little cafes and restaurants.

After a lovely meal at one of those we wandered around.

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This is the waterfront section. Old facades to the left with eateries and tourist oriented pop up shops to the left.

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We survived Croatian car drivers. An extraordinary country of contrast. The mountains, the sea and everything in between. It will leave an indelible memory.

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Old town Split

Today this was our route.

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I deliberately made our 145 km ride route smaller, so that you can see where in the world we are. Multiple countries not far from here, with Bosnia very close.

We have a rest day Sunday as we wait for our overnight ferry to Italy.

We will wander around the old town, with our bikes, kitted up in case we hop onto them, fully loaded as this accommodation cannot store them.

Rain and cooler conditions are forecast. I hope it waits until evening and buckets down before we arrive in Italy, where bad weather is forecast. Fingers crossed he meteorologists are wrong.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

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The path less travelled

Last night at dinner I heard a man laugh. I said to Tony, “He has an Aussie laugh”. Is there such a thing?  I became a sticky beak and listened to their conversation. Yes, he was Aussie as he discussed tv shows such as The Sullivans, Homicide and Neighbors! I said “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” and he reacted!

He and his wife were members of a much larger Aussie group doing a bus tour of Croatia. We sat with a few others during breakfast this morning. It was nearly three weeks since we had heard another Australian speaking.

When we were leaving some of the group wandered outside ready for their own adventures. I had my photo taken with three different groups, and here is the one we took.

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It was very foggy and cool as we left. In fact, it was 5.4 degrees Celcius and I had to spin those legs fast to warm them up.

One photo from Gospic, famous as the birth place of Nikolas Tesla. Sadly it has suffered badly with wars, WWII and the Croatian Independence War. Over 100 Serbians were rounded up and killed in the latter.

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Small church near our accommodation

The road was nice and flat and we motored along nicely despite the cool conditions.

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It’s been about a week now since we’ve seen a deer, but we keep looking.

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This was a sobering memorial to the Croatian Independence War from the early 1990’s.

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We noted many abandoned and seemingly destroyed homes and wondered if they had been damaged by war. The first one seems not to bad, but is abandoned. The second one is totally stuffed! There were hundreds of homes like this today.

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After 30 km of easy cruising, we stopped here to grab a coffee. The lady spoke some English and I asked her about the houses. She told me they were all damaged from the 1990’s war. How sad.

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It was still foggy but serene.

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Another destroyed and abandoned home. I later read that the Croatians also destroyed homes owned by Serbians. So the conflict was not all Croatia vs the Yugoslav’s but also against Serbs living within Croatia.

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Just as we were about to commence our biggest climb for the day, the fog started to lift revealing a mountain range.

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We crossed this cute creek, swollen somewhat from yesterday’s deluge.

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I lost count of how many of these memorials we rode past today. They are all in remembrance of soldiers killed during the Independence War with dates of death ranging from 1991-1995.

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We started to climb and I was somewhat ‘surprised’ to see gravel! There was also a sign indicating 18 km worth! Now gravel is not my strong cycling point on the flat, let alone climbing and descending. We were at 600 m.a.s.l and due to climb to 1,051 m.a.s.l. Ooh it was going to be a slow trudge.

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About half way up the climb there was a lookout tower providing expansive views.

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Below us, we noticed these circles of stone we assume were used to contain sheep once upon a time versus sacrificial usage!

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Yet another destroyed home. Homes were few and far between on this ride. on the climb we only found a couple, and not one vehicle. This photo is at the top, where it was flat for one or two km meandering around.

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So many of these memorials to dead soldiers up on the mountain top.

The views from the top were outstanding.

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This sign shocked me to the core. We were in an area of undetonated landmines! Woah! No sneaking off behind a bush up here for a nature break. I had no idea about this aspect of the area. I have since googled to learn that after the war, the Croatian Government spent many years identifying and removing many, but the job is not finished, and they have stopped. Instead, warning signs are placed. Over 1900 people have lost their lives due to land mines.

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It was hard to pick the photos to use for today, but here are a selection.

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I really like this one. Has a Dolomite feel to it. I am going very slowly on this descent. I’d be lucky if I was doing 10 kmh.

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Why was this wall built? So out of place and seemingly superfluous ?

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Perhaps the wall was something to do with this? In the 1960’s the area was used as a film set for a movie and tv series about North American Indians. Seems logical…go to Croatia rather than the home of the North American Indian!

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Another memorial with an outstanding view looking towards Zadar.

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We had numerous breaks on the descent as our hands were aching so badly from squeezing the brakes so heavily. This one is at the little chapel.

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We heard a motor noise and looked down to see these beach buggies hooning up…they were flooring it and having a ball. We were glad to be off the road as they flew past.

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Here we have a new church being built, I dare say another war memorial as obviously there was a mass loss of life on these mountains. Hard to picture the tanks rolling up and down these hills and the many thousands of men. It is such a serene place today.

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We are now looking back up at where we had ridden

When we finally hit solid road, it was such a relief. All the way down to near sea level, the land mine warning signs continued. Below we are looking back up at part of the range.

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These might look like lakes, but they are not. They are inlets from the Adriatic Sea.

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This is the Maslenica Bridge built in 2005 after the original bridge was destroyed in 1991

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Our last few views before undertaking our death defying ride into Zadar.

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The last 30 km was hair raising. The cars were fast and there was a series of rolling hills to overcome. We just put our heads down, concentrated hard on white line on the road edge as there was no verge. Speed limits do not seem to be a consideration as whether the sign said, 40,50, 80… they all do far faster.

We found our accommodation and were relieved to arrive intact!

We enjoyed our walk around Zadar, another city also destroyed by the two wars. This first picture is looking out our bedroom window to the Zadar Cathedral of St Anastasia ( left hand side). The church origins date back to a basilica built in the 4th century. much of the current structure is 12th and 13th century. The bombing of Zadar damaged part of the church in 1943.

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Next door, is the Church of St Donatus, construction commencing in the 9th century. The bell tower is part of the cathedral.

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The various plinths and partial columns are from Roman times, part of the Forum, constructed by the Emperor Augustus. Zadar was a Roman colony from 48 BC until the 5th Century.

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Down to the water front looking out to the various islands.

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I wanted to listen to the unique sea organ. Alas it was impossible due to a running festival setting up that had very loud ‘duff duff’ music blaring. We intend to try again in the morning, swinging past before we head south to Split.

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After dinner, we headed back to the water front for sunset. What a glorious sunset.

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Then a few more shots as we headed home.

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Am extraordinary day. Beautiful weather, a ride through an area not many venture that is incredibly beautiful with such a sad and sobering past.

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We have two days left in Croatia.  Next we ride to Split, around 150 km south from here. Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day as we catch the overnight ferry to Italy. Unfortunately there are bad weather warnings out for Sunday and early next week including eastern Italy, but I hope it sorts itself out tomorrow!!

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

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Weather Gods

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.

Awesome… not.

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.

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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!

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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.

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The island you can see is Krk

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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.

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Here I come wet and bedraggled.

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Right on 1 pm the rain stopped, just like that. We thought, excellent! There were many big puddles and localized flooding.

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Beautiful forests

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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.

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Then a miracle happened. Can you see it? Blue sky!!!! That really lifted our spirits.

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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.

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In the far distance you can see some snow on distant peaks.

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This is the Lika River we crossed shortly before arriving in Gospic.

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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.

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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.

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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,

Ooroo

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Wow factors

There are many things that we can saw “Wow” about. It can be used in both a positive and negative way. Today was one of those day’s where the word was used both ways.

We lined up early for the 7 am breakfast, surrounded by a  large bunch from USA doing a Rick Stein 3 week bus tour. Amazingly, I think they ate more than us!

We left on the 8 am ferry and this was our last look of Rovinj.

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This is one of about 19 archipelago islands off the coast in the area. I would quite like to acquire the little one thank you.

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We were on the road by 8.45 am, and the day was looking ok weather wise.  There was a breeze in our face as we commenced what would be a 38 km steady climb.

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Another picture perfect village on a hill

This intrigued me, it is a paddock of fence posts planted almost like a cemetery. No signage to indicate what and why.

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That distant mountain was to be a feature for much of the day, as we would end up riding around the base of it. It looks so far away in this photo.

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Lots of grape growing again.

 

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You just never get sick of these views! What a great looking village at the top of this climb. The village is Plomin.

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But…like any country, there are ugly aspects. You could hardly miss this coal processing plant. That chimney is exceedingly tall. To the left of the coal pile is a conveyor belt that brings the coal down from the wharf and stockpiles it.

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Here we are a bit closer to the village that we now realize overlooks the coal driven power plant.

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It also overlooks this amazing inlet….including the conveyor belt and wharf.

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Following the ridge along you could see it open into the Adriatic Sea.

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#2 for Ali and Lord Glover is he is reading!

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Typical housing in this region.

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This is about where our wow, wow, wow’s started.

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The next few are taken from an extremely well placed restaurant (on a hairpin bend) overlooking a magnificent view, including the large island of Cres.

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One of the best rides ever occurred next as we followed the coastline, gradually declining with the most incredible views.  My only concern was that the drop off was steep and long, and only a few patches, here and there of roadside barriers! We stopped at a barrier to look.

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Now we are quite close to sea level and there is a small beach. Most of the beaches have been pebbly.

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Traffic started to get a bit hairy some 35 km from our destination. We stopped for an ice cream.

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We climbed up and down a few more times.

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Then we hit Rijeka! The negative wow’s now with possible other adjectives thrown in!

Now I have ridden from one end of Paris to the other, right through London in different directions and both were far preferable to our experience in Rijeka.

Crazy driving, no cycling infrastructure meant we were forced onto the footpath where cars tended to park, using our bike like a scooter.

Progress was slow and hampered.  At one point we were on a road climbing 15 percent with crazies around and the regular drains we had been avoiding had the grates spun around the ‘wrong’ way for cyclists.  The gaps were wider than our tyres and would be very ugly if we accidentally rode over one on these narrow roads.

There are no photos of Riejka. Sorry. We were just concentration 100 percent. If there is a nice part, we missed it!

We made a few executive decisions to alter our route and try and hug the coast a bit more to get to our destination of Bakar.

We descended steeply into a very deep water bay with huge ships there for maintenance. Needed to climb up but the road actually had a verge larger than 6 inches!

Eventually at the top of the hill we saw Bakar. It was a nice descent and Tony snapped this riding the descent. I would be a goner for sure if I tried that!

Note the modern highway bridge high above the town.

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Bakar is a ‘quaint’ village. Fairly quiet where the locals seem to sit outside the various bars cigarettes in one hand, beer the other.

It used to house an industrial plant including a coal factory, which produced considerable pollution. The factory closed in 1995 and the areas pollution has subsided significantly. Reminds me of Burnie,s industrial story.

During WW1 there was a ‘militarily irrelevant’ naval raid on the town by the Italians, aimed at raising the spirits of the Italian public.

After WWI the town became a major point of entry for thousands of Russian refugees.

During WWII there was a concentration camp here for Croats’, Serbs and Ljubljana people.

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This interested me. It is restored, but it is Perolo, a cultural and historical local monument. It was a site for washing clothes, with fresh water fed from the adjacent spring pond.

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A closer look at the highway structure. Looks so out of place above the old village.

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Today this is the route we followed for our 118 km ride, and our hilly ascent chart.

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Tomorrow is a bigger day both km and climbing wise. The weather forecast is rain and cold. I hope they are wrong and that it turns out like today, weather wise!!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

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Shades of Tuscany

This is the alleyway our bedroom window looked out into.  A funky part of Trieste. Our bikes were stored in the linen room, located up a different alley. It is easy to get lost with the plethora of similar looking alleys.

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Here is my bike, all packed up and ready to roll. This old fountain has been disabled from use.

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The first 5 km getting out of Trieste was a nightmare. Crazy Italian car drivers, pedestrians, motor scooters and an occasional cyclist heading every which way.

Disorganised and chaotic, yet everyone survives. They may be crazy but they are also quite tolerant.

A few km later and we have found a bike trail. Every now and then you just have to lift your bike and luggage over stuff!

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Today would be a three country day. What’s more, within 22 km of riding, we would have been in 3.

Here I am, on a bike path, leaving Italy and entering Slovenia.

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A few views of Slovenia, or is Italy?

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This is Slovenia and you can see that the vegetation is really starting to change from the first two weeks. It is taking on a decided Tuscan twist, with olives and grapes being the only crops we saw all day.

Within 20 km we had crossed the border into Croatia, requiring two more passport checks. Within a few days we have collected 6 passport stamps from Slovenia and Croatia!

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We passed numerous hilltop towns, also reminding me of Tuscany.

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In the photo below, you can see a whisp of smoke on the right hand side. As we were climbing, we rode through a thick patch, courtesy of a farmer doing a burn off.

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This old cottage is cute! Renovator required.

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This photo is by special request from my friend Ali, in England. This is continuing my New Zealand theme.

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Another renovators delight.

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Another beautiful hilltop town.

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Now this abode is for sale! I can confirm it comes with a great view!

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More great vistas.

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Towns ahead are well signposted with what is available. Crosses all languages, and a great idea!

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Views after views.

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With only 25 km to go out of todays 100 km, we stopped at a small cafe. Whilst we had no Croatian currency yet, they kindly agreed to take Euro.

We had two wonderful chicken, cheese and bacon burger, a large bottle of frizzante…all for 11 Euro.

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The next 20 km were fantastic. We descended through a gorge. At the top you could just see the water reminding me of some waterways north of Sydney.

There were a series of pop up shops selling their local wares.

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Nice colourful sign, no idea what it is about.

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The last few km into Rovinj were hairy. Impatient drivers!

We needed to get the ferry as tonight we are staying on St Katarina Island, off the Rovinj Coast, with lovely Adriatic waters surrounding us.

After some mucking around on the bikes trying to find where we were meant to be, we made a few phone calls.

At last we were on the boat heading away from the crowds. Rounding the rocky promontory reveals the best facades of the old town.

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We have been for a walk around ‘our’ island. Here are some of the views of the island and looking from the island.

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These gulls are particularly large (perhaps twice the size of our common seagulls at home) and nesting. They are as silly as plovers with some of their nest locations, but far more placid.

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The waters off the island are so crystal clear.

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Todays route and elevation profile.

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Well I must get some beauty sleep so I can continue the journey tomorrow.

A few last shots to show you of tonight’s Adriatic sunset.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

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An Adriatic Sunset

A brilliant day on the bike!

It was very cold when we prepared to leave Ljubljana this morning. We had our winter gear on. Here is Tony getting his bike ready in the laneway outside our hotel.

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One final look at the Lubjiljana River as we cross over to the far side.

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Some shots as we departed through the city, cutting through various squares to avoid traffic where possible.

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A few km out of the city was this ‘bicycle tree’.

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In the distance we could see the hills had some snow. I suspect some was dumped last night given how cold it was.

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Beautiful Slovenia scenery.

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We stopped to grab a coffee at Logatec, and as we left a cyclist joined us on the footpath. We started chatting and his name was Nexa, and he is from Serbia.

He is riding solo from his hometown in Serbia to Lisbon (Portugal). Then he might ride up to The Netherlands. Nexa has 2 1/2 months leave.

Nexa was also riding to Trieste, so two became three.

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Continuing through the beautiful Slovenian countryside we later realised we took a wrong turn. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise (despite the climbing).

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This is looking towards eastern Italy and I suspect part of the Eastern Dolomites. Look at that snow! We will be in the Dolomites in 9 days time.

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Climbing! There was a bit today with numerous pinches of 15 percent, and a nasty 19 percenter! Very short, but very nasty.

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As we were climbing we noted three guys in sleeping bags on the ground behind this car. It was about 11am!

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More picturesque scenes.

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More climbing.

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Another pretty scene.

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Descending with a small dusting of snow on the hill ahead. We ended up at about 860m above sea level, and the lowest snow would have been maybe 950-1000 metres above sea level.

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As we started descending there was a collective “wow” as we saw the valley in front of us open up, snow capped alps in the background. The descent was nice!

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We refuelled in the town of Adjovscina at the base of the descent. I can highly recommend the route we took between Logatec and Adjovscina for a challenging, wow factor ride.

We hit the road again taking a fairly direct line route to Trieste involving more climbing through lush forest and farmland.

There were numerous vineyards in the area and plenty of pretty towns.

The major afternoon climb was on gravel with only the switchback sealed. It was reasonably compacted and ok for us ( I have 32 mm width tyres, whereas Nexa was on the standard road width if 23mm, so trickier for him).

 

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We crossed the Italian border about 10 km before our destination of Trieste. It is an open border between the two countries.

Finally our first view of Trieste looking towards where we will be riding tomorrow, the Istrian Peninsula. Nexa will be heading towards the Venetian Plains.

It was shortly after this photo that we bid farewell to head to our respective accomodations. Nexa was another highlight for us today. He is living his dream and passion, something we are both doing, so we acknowledge and applaud him for doing the same.

Many do not understand why we do, what we do….it would be the same for Nexa. But, we get it!

As per a quote on Nexa’s Facebook page, “Don’t wait for inspiration, be the inspiration”.

Ride on Nexa! Be safe, and may the winds be at your back!

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We had over 350 metres to descend.  This is officially my slowest descent ever.

Pictures never show what a slope really looks like. This is 24 percent and crappy cobbles! I know it only looks maybe 6-8 but the Garmin measured it at 24 percent for the great majority.  There were two sections, this is the second one.

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Downtown Trieste where we used our bikes like scooters predominantly on footpaths as we navigated towards our hotel.

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Todays route and climbing profile. A total ride of 101 km.

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We wandered around the old town after showering and clothes washing.

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We had an average Italian meal at a restaurant with a somewhat incongruous name of C’est le vie…that was belting out Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York! Whatever!

An above average sunset greeted us as we returned to our hotel.

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We do not usually do selfies however literally everyone else was so we thought…why not!

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The sunset cast a lovely colour on this foreshore building.

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What a fantastic day today. One error in navigation took us down a path not heavily trodden. We really enjoyed it, plus getting to know Nexa.

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So as the sun sets on day 14 of our adventure. Ooroo.

😊💪🚴

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