Posts Tagged With: Beautiful countryside

Day 6: Sibenik to Pag Island

126 km – 1,200 meters climbing and descent

Today the first half was pretty easy riding, ups and downs along the coast, and reasonably cool. My legs were still feeling the benefit of the rest day in Split.

I drink about a bottle of water an hour which seems more than anyone else, which means having to stop and buy water a couple of times a day. So I decided if I am paying for water I may as well have sparkling. Interesting fact: the gas in the sparkling water and the motion of riding doesn’t work so well. No matter how tight your bottles are screwed shut, the gas builds up and pushes through the spout, and sprays your legs at regular intervals with trickles of water.

There are many beautiful coves with beautiful clear water, sandy beaches, boats at the shore, certainly this is a country to put on the list to come back to. The country is very clean, especially the hotels and the shops.

Lunch was at 65 km, then next 5 km was along the coast. We crossed a big bridge onto PAG Island. After this we spent about 20 km in the country side, with lots of long hot steady climbs. The country side is very much like Spain, lots of rock walls and olive trees, and hot.

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PAG Island Bridge

Then there was a three km down hill, which was followed by 26 km of what seemed like endless long clinbs and descents in the beating sun.

The landscape was very rocky, dry and barren. I am finding the bumps in the road hard on my arm, and my right foot felt like someone had shoved a knife into it. When the lunch truck came past 15 km before the end the temptation was great, but I resisted.

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Dry rocky lunar landscape

Finally we came to the township of Pag, there was a choice of left or right. The left was a steep long climb and the right was a short climb. Yay the flags showed go to the right!

Finally got to the hotel, a lovely place set right by the beach, called Hotel Frane.

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Hotel Frane

As soon as I got my gear up to the room, I was off to the beach for a swim. Amazing how different I felt after a swim and a shower. The room has a nice balcony which was great to dry the togs and air the riding shoes out.

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Room balcony at Hotel Frane

I am still having some problems with the bites from a previous swim in the ocean, and have to keep two of them covered, but whilst yucky they don’t look infected.

I look a bit like a crazy woman, I still have not been able to find any conditioner so my hair is all over the place, and despite putting sunscreen on frequently, my face is red.

Dinner was Chicken noodle soup and bread followed by an amazing platter with seabass, potatoes and veges, accompanied by fried squid rings, and octopus and rice. This was washed down with cold water as today was one of the two alcohol free days for the week. Dessert was a sticky cake thing, it looked nice but I was too full to eat.

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After a long hot 127km day – dinner for a starving cyclist

Tomorrow we have to catch 3 ferries.

 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 24/164: Timana to San Agustín – 86km

1,900km down: 11,741km to go

A few locals came past in cars and on cycles during the night to see the novel sight of a bunch of foreigners camped by their local pool. One of the riders was up at 4am showering! There are a small number of riders who get up about an hour before the others, and you get woken up by their tent pole noise as they get clipped together and their tent fly opening. I have no idea why they get up so early as 5am is plenty of time if breakfast is at 6am.

I woke up with neck pain and a pounding headache and decided that a 45 kilometre ride with 1,200 meters climb I could live without, so decided to go on the bus. After the last trip (the trans Europa) where I rode the whole ride and did not get in the lunch truck at all, it has been hard mentally to adjust to not riding whole days. However, the mind may be willing but currently the body is not capable. Since I have made the decision to relax and to ride half days I have been enjoying myself again. This is what I came to do right! Enjoy myself. My day of half riding can still be 6 hours, which is not a bad effort for the day. Since I decided this I have been riding about the same but waking up without feeling the pressure.

In the lunch truck were a couple of riders taking the day off riding due to gastro, general weariness, or tenderness in the seat area. One of the riders who is continuing to ride has a boil on his butt that has had to be lanced ouch. This is where the focus on achieving EFI (doing every bit of the whole ride) can be dangerous I think. On a previous ride one of the riders ended up in hospital due to complications from boils, because they persisted in riding.

Interesting countryside today, quite steep again with every patch of hillside cultivated. Took a couple of photos of waterfalls coming down the hills.

Through town for a kilometre before the uphill starts (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Through town for a kilometre before the uphill starts (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Views from the road (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Views from the road (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The hotel is an interesting place, it is called the Hotel International San Agustin. It is either very old or has been built to look very old. They have a number of different blocks where they have rooms, each one has a different international theme. Sue and I are in the Asian themed block, which is like a rotounda (round) and each room is a wedge with high ceilings and bamboo pools and green walls. The grounds are lovely.

The building we stayed in known as the Asian house in San Augustin ( it's not as nice as it looks rooms and beds were musty and walls paper thin)

The building we stayed in, known as the Asian house, in San Agustin
(It’s not as nice as it looks, the rooms and beds were musty, and the walls were paper thin)

Luckily being up in altitude again (1,900 meters) it is cool, as there is no air con.  Not sure what happens if it gets much colder, as there is no heating. Due to being up at high altitudes one day and then back at sea level the next, it is hot one day and cold the next, so you have to have gear for both temperatures in your daily bag.

As soon as we arrived, I headed into the hotel to log onto the Internet to send away the five blog updates I had ready.  Many of the riders send huge numbers of photos once they get onto the Internet, you can’t even send a two line email. I am pleased I did as it took 20 minutes to log on. A number of the riders have not been able to get onto the wifi at all. Tomorrow I will go to one of the Internet cafes in the town, which starts about 500 meters away, and see if I can send photos. Although it may be you can only use their machines, which won’t help with sending photos.

I really enjoyed having a warm shower. Next on the list was to sort out the laundry. The white board said the hotel would do the laundry, so without thinking about it I handed mine in. One of the other riders said afterwards that they were taking theirs to look for a place in town, as the hotel was really expensive. Oh well, too late now.

I went off into town to explore with a couple of the other riders. We stopped at a cafe on the corner where a number of the riders had gathered. I had a strawberry soda, and what I thought was going to corn bread, meat, and mushrooms. It turned out to be my good old friend plantain! It was fried and hard, and was ok for dipping into the shredded meat, guacamole and salsa. I managed to eat about half of it.

I went off to have a look around. Because San Agustín is a place for tourists, there were heaps of shops selling souvenirs, which due to having no space in my bags, stayed on the shelves. So far I have yet to see a post office anywhere since I arrived in Cartagena.

We ended up spending a couple of very pleasant hours having a couple of cold beers, sitting in the corner bar on the square, watching the town life. It is a most delicious feeling to have nowhere you have to be and no jobs to be done, just the rest of the day to spend how you please.

The town square

The town square

We then went to a pizza place for dinner. I got a margarita pizza, which was clearly adapted to local taste as it bore no resemblance to any margarita pizza I have ever had before (apart from that it was pizza).  It was loaded with cheese, so when you picked it up you had to hold the whole slice otherwise the weight of the cheese caused it to collapse. I had some Chilean red wino (vino tinto) – Cab Sav seems to be all the red that a lot of Colombian places sell. The owner was a German lady that had lived in the town for 35 years. The pizza place suddenly got busy so I did not get a chance to have much of a conversation with her.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way back and got some yoghurt and cereal for breakfast (they have a combo of cereal and yoghurt you can combine into one). The yogurt here is all liquid, not quite the consistency of milk but not as thick as custard. Apparently, it is like this in most countries?

I got back to the hotel and the washing was back already – 72,000 pesos (about $45 NZ) so not as bad as it could have been. Some of the clothes look brand new and have been ironed! Even my Hospi riding shirt, which was starting to look pretty manky, is looking respectable again.

Tomorrow a number of us are going off to do some site seeing. There is an archaeological site about 3 kilometres out of town.

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 37: Gorišnica to Prebold – 106k

3,077km down: 3,148km to go

Well was meant to be 106k but when I wrote down the directions last night I somehow managed to not write down the very first instruction “Go right at 0.4 km”.

I woke up late this morning, I have got out of the habit of setting my alarm as a number of the riders get up well before I need to, so I have got used to being woken up by them. However of course we were in a room so this did not work this time. I woke Walli up at 6:30, so not too much panic as breakfast was at 7 but we had missed getting the bags down to the van by 6:30. So we rushed around getting ready, I took the first bag down to where the bags had been left the day before, but there were no tents, no riders, no van – I had a moment of “Oh my god it must be much much later and I must have read the time wrong!”. My main concern was how the hell we were going to carry a large day bag each!

Anyway I thought “Ok, take a deep breath, walk right around the complex” and phew found everyone on the other side. We had to gulp down breakfast, so only had time for one cup of tea.

So due to being in a hurry and missing a vital part of the instructions I did not see the flag at 0.4k because I was not looking for it. So 18k later I arrived back at the hotel where I reset my speedometer and looked for flags. I saw the one at 0.4k – though it was not obvious, it was on a wall, not in the line of sight – and of course all the rest of the instructions made sense after that.

However to put it in context, I have only got lost for more than a couple of kilometres twice and there have been 30 riding days so far. With the amount of kilometres that we do and the small side roads, dirt roads, and twists and turns, it’s not bad. We stay at campsites where we don’t have access to a printer, and the side roads and dirt roads are not on our paper maps. So we rely on written instructions, flags (which a couple of times have been removed by street cleaners). I don’t carry my iPad on my bike as it needs Wifi to be able to get directions, and I don’t have 3G internet on it.

Anyway it was perfect weather for getting lost today. Once I got about 20k into the correct ride, I rang one of the tour guides to let them know that although I would be late to lunch I was ok. Anyway I got to the right place in the end (and was not the last rider to camp) and we got a room. Tomorrow night and the next night are at the rest spot in Ljubljana (I am still practicing how to pronounce this).

It was beautiful countryside today, lots of flowers, every house is ablaze with a palate of colour. There are flowers at every window, geraniums in mostly red but some had a mixture of a number of colours, all were very pretty. It’s pretty much how I imagine the country side in Italy will look. You can tell we are further south as there are flower beds as well as flower boxes.

We went through a lot of small villages and one really old town called Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia. There is evidence that it was settled in the Stone Age. By the 1st century BC the city was controlled by ancient Rome, by 103 AD the city had 40,000 inhabitants. It is a very beautiful old city, it’s hard to believe that I have been in somewhere that is that old!

Ptuj as seen by Kaye’s blurry camera

Ptuj as per the photo from Wikipedia

I rode by myself today for most of the way and thought about a lot of the stuff we had seen. When I originally signed up for the ride I had signed up for the Amber route which finishes on the 18th August in Venice, but then the ride was extended to Lisbon and renamed the Trans-Europe route which I then signed up to. I wondered if I would regret this decision but I have to say that although I miss my family and friends I am not yet ready to come home. I am looking forward to riding through Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. I think the best sites are yet to come: the wine, the food, and if today is anything to go by, the colour! I consider myself to be very privileged to be here, not only to have the time, the money, and the opportunity, but also the physical ability to do this.

A number of houses have pizza ovens outside. The pizza here of course is nothing like you get in New Zealand. When we ordered a pizza in Bratislava we ordered the small one each, and it was bigger than an extra large back home. We were pleased we had not ordered the large, but were interested so we asked how big the big one was – well just at that moment another waitperson walked past with one – it was like 48 inches!

The camp we are staying at tonight is the closest to the perfect campsite we’ve come across so far – though there are always some suggestions for added improvements, today’s is wake up calls even if you didn’t order one, with a tray with two cups of tea. The guest brochure here says “This camp is distinguished by unmutilated nature, unpolluted air, and peace”. Though maybe not once the riders arrived, as the peace was shattered of course. The website is www.Dolina.si

We have a new rider who joined us the day we left Bratislava. Lucy is 23, and from Melbourne. Lucy will be with us until Lisbon. Lucy did the Tour De Africa this year – this tour is four months long and goes from Cairo to Cape Town, a total of 12,000 kilometres. What I am doing is a walk in the park compared to the African tour – they mainly bush camp (no facilities, and certainly no rooms!). Lucy is classed as an EFI from the rider – someone who rides Every Freaking Inch of the ride, something not achieved by the majority of riders.

Dan was telling us (he did the tour last year) that every few days a guy turns up in the middle of the desert with a donkey and two large containers of water, you buy a bucket full and that’s your shower! The tour is very rugged and this year they had four riders injured to the extent that they had to leave the tour and go home. But get this, the injured included one guy who had an accident in the same town he had had an accident in the year before on the trip, and he broke his hip both times! This was the other hip this time. Apparently the insurance company were highly suspicious but of course they had to pay as nobody would deliberately do this twice. I imagine though that if he tries to do the tour again they may try and slip in a clause that he is covered for everything bar broken hips!

Gen and Lucy

One thing that has amused me is the nightclubs here. I have not actually been to one, but they are either on the outskirts of town or a couple of kilometres out of town and there will be a sign saying “Night Club”. They are usually quite a small building and totally shut up during the day but are just small little buildings. I will take a photo of one tomorrow if I see one. It does raise the question of drinking and driving but I guess it is in walking distance. Certainly unlike Poland there are not signs everywhere advertising 24 hour akohole! So perhaps it is not such the drinking culture. Although saying that, the owner of the camp has been passing around elderberry schnapps!

The ride yesterday had a couple of quite challenging hills, one was quite short but very steep, I had one foot unclipped just in case but managed to get up it and as said yesterday, the views were fantastic! Walli is not a strong rider up hills and last night at dinner she was telling us that she was going up the hill, and at first it was hard work but then all of a sudden it was easy and she flew up it. “Hmm,” I thought “She has had a couple of red wines”, then she started laughing and saying she “had the force”. Once she stopped laughing enough to talk, it turns out that Geergo – who was the sweep – came up behind her and pushed her up the hill. So now we have nicknamed Geergo the force.

There is a spread of riding ability, and depending on the distance, the arrival times to camp can vary up to four hours. This means that a group of us riding can see the same sight but at a different time, two examples of these:
1. Coming into Bratisava there was a man pushing a bath attached to a bike. As it was on the main road in busy traffic none of us got a photo, but I saw him as the traffic was careering around him trying to avoid him, he was right out on the road. One of the other riders saw him having a rest, sitting in the bath at the side of the road. It’s more like something I would have expected to see in maybe India or somewhere like that.
2. Sitting at camp a number of us commented on a cat we had seen standing as still as a statue by a ditch. Over the space of about 2 hours we all saw this cat, but Walli who was last rider got to see it with a mouse in his mouth.
All over the countryside there are cats standing like statues patiently waiting to catch their prey.

So we do not know how long the ride is tomorrow, by the motorway it is 62k, but of course we won’t be going on the motorway. Jan has looked on his google maps and says that anywhere we go there will be hills.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment