Biograd na Moru, Croatia: For the past three days I have been working my way down the Croatian coast along Route 8. I knew this coastal ride would be pretty but I was unprepared for the spectacular panormas of rocky mountains juxtaposed against azure waters. Yesterday’s ride in particular, along a desolate 100-km stretch of coast and through two National Parks, was outstanding. Route 8 surely rates as one of the world’s great ocean drives.
But it’s been hard work, too.
On my first day on Route 8 I fought powerfully fierce headwinds. That made the going rough and tough and slow. The Croatian coast is renowned for its windiness, and I received an authentic experience.
The second day along the coast, from Senj to Triban Sibuljna, was knock-out beautiful, with very little habitation , development, and traffic along the way, except for the oasis-like town of Karlobag in the middle. I stocked up in Senj with extra provisions – bread, fruit, nuts, water — which came in handy as I ended up camping last night. I pitched my tent just a few meters from water’s edge. It was hard to beat such a location and view. The downside to camping in this region is you’re sleeping on rocks. The beaches, the mountains, almost everything in this part of Croatia is rock. Fortunately I was able to borrow an air mattress from the campground office, and I slept like a baby….until I woke up at 12:30am ready to get on with the new day. It was a long night after that. Breakfast this morning was very basic — bread with nutella and a banana — but it provided enough fuel to get me into trouble.
Today’s ride was scenically uninteresting compared to the two previous days. I stopped on a bridge to take a photo of a man rowing a boat. A few minutes later, I heard a familiar hissing sound. My back tire had popped again, the second time in four days. Unfortunately I am getting proficient in changing that tire. A Croatian motorist did stop to offer some assistance, but I had everything under control.
Bike fixed and rolling again, I stopped for a lunch of roast chicken and vegetables in Zadar. These gilled foods are a Croatian specialty and this was my best meal in Croatia, which isn’t saying much because the food has been dreadful.
The mellow town of Biograd caught my attention from the road. I made a detour, liked the place, and decided to call it a day. I followed the signage to the best digs in town, the In Hotel. It’s a far and welcome cry from sleeping on rocks last night.
Yesterday I clocked my 4,000th kilometer on TransEuropa 2011. Only 2,000 more to go, more or less.
Days 54 – 56: Rijeka to Biograd na Moru, Croatia via overnights in Senj and Tribanj Sibuljina
Distances: 68.38 km (Day 54); 104.95 km (Day 55); 81.5 km (Day 56)
Ascent: 523 meters (Day 54); 664 meters (Day 55); 275 meters (Day 56)
Weather: Overcast skies and conducive cycling weather except the hard headwind on Day 54
TransEuropa 2011 Trip Summary:
Distance: 4,074.27 kilometers
Ascent: 29,195 meters
Countries: 10: Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia
Incidents: 4: flat tires on Days 45, 53 and 56; police reprimand on Day 2