Posts Tagged With: Hills

Day 2: Dundalk to Belfast – 95km

Today we had a 95.3km to ride, with another rest day at the end to look forward to.

To start the ride was busy but then we got out into the country which was beautiful. Coming through a town we nearly missed the turn as we were busy looking at a big Cathedral. It was nice to turn off out off the traffic.

IMG_4690

There was meant to be 800 meters in climbing but was actually over 1,100 by the end of the day. Some of the climbs seemed to go on and on.

At one stage we had a big downhill and unfortunately missed a left hand turn, one of the other riders spotted us going the wrong way and took off after us which was very nice of him. Bruce is from USA, he and his wife Becky did the South American ride last year, will be interesting to catch up with them and share stories.

We had a border collie following the riders energetically for about 10 km, he didn’t stay with me as I was too slow for him. Every now and then I would see him as he came back from a farm driveway where I think he gone to get a drink of water. At the 10 k mark he stopped and turned for home. I wonder how many times a day he does this stretch. From memory they are the dogs who need the most exercise.

The lunch truck had stopped at a lovely spot by a river and I was reluctant to leave. As always the first couple of kilometers were hard to get the legs moving again. Not helped by quite a steep climb to start.

IMG_4695.jpg

We had a nice path from about 10 kilometers from the town and arrived at The Hotel Ramada Encore about 5pm.

IMG_4692

IMG_4693

We met Michele and Tony at 6pm and headed of for beer and food. First stop the Duke of York Hotel where we chatted with Dean from California and Joe from Canada. We then went to the Northam Whig restaurant for dinner which was very nice, found out later it was a 4 star. I had a very nice steak.

IMG_4698.jpg

We could all feel the days ride catching up so after dinner back to the hotel.

IMG_4700.jpg

IMG_4704.jpg

Advertisements
Categories: The Pub Ride, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 20: Schwabisch-Hall to Heidelberg

The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.

We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters. To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.

Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.

IMG_2880

Departing Hotel Goldener Adler

The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.

IMG_2882

Hard climb at the start of the day to Waldenburg

We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths.  At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!

The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.

IMG_2897

Feeling puffed!

Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.

The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.

IMG_2900

Hirschhorn

IMG_2885

Neuenstein

At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!

We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.

Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.

IMG_2895.JPG

Over the Neckar River at Neckargetach, before the road block!

We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.

IMG_2901.JPG

At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.

There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.

We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.

It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.

By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.

Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.

Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.

There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.

After 15 min Brett went to the bar and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!

I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.

Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.
Nekar

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 15: Innsbruck to Garmisch – Partenkirchen (aka GAP)

64 km of riding, with 815 meters up and 666 meters down

IMG_2768

Today’s ride

My arm and wrist is very painful today, which is most likely because like an idiot I stopped taking anti-inflammatory as I thought I no longer needed to take them. I am back on them now.

The first hour of riding was along flat bike paths, and we rode 21 km. The next 20 km took two and a half hours! This was spent pushing the bike up 17% gradients with slippery gravel, riding when able to and and pushing my bike down hill, with rockslides, gravel and some steep gradients.

IMG_2771

Pettnau, Austria

At some point we crossed into Germany, some of the other riders said it was when we went through a field full of cows with bells.  https://www.facebook.com/tdaglobalcycling/videos/10154728790261314/?pnref=story

IMG_2776

Tidy farmhouses in Krün, Germany

There are lots of other cyclists going both ways on the bike trails, some are friendly, some look like they are having a horrid time, and some ride two abreast and only swerve at the last minute back into single file, which is a bit nerve wracking.

The last 15 km on was mostly tar seal, so despite the 2 1/2 hours to do the 20 km we arrived at the hotel at just after one pm, to find the rooms were not ready. We got changed and walked into the city centre to catch up two of the riders, Daryl and Alex, at an Irish Bar. The Irish bar had the most amazing view of the Dolomites.

img_2783.jpg

At Garmisch- Partenkirchen – view of the Dolomites in the background

When we arrived the TV was on, playing the NZ national anthem then the Maori All Blacks did a Haka. It was quite nice hearing and seeing it over the other side of the world.

IMG_2780.JPG

Maori All Blacks on the TV at an Irish Bar

I had a lager and Brett had a Guinness and got given a bag of Guinness chips (or chippies as we call them), they were seriously delicious.

Daryl is one of the Aussie 6 from Sydney, and had been here a couple of weeks before the ride doing training. Daryl does ultra marathons where it goes over three days. Day one swim in the ocean 10 km and bike 150 km, day two bike 240 km, day three run 84 k (2 full marathons). Daryl is in his late 60s and the last one of these he did was last year, and he currently holds the record for his age group. This explains his incredulous look when he saw me sitting outside the hotel when he arrived. “Take the truck did you?” he asked, and when I said no he wanted know where I had passed him (the Aussie group stopped for coffee at the top of the second 20 k). Daryl is retired but was a stock broker.

Alex is also one of the Aussies group from Sydney, he is the oldest in the group at 74 but is a very strong rider, and often leads the Aussie peloton. Alex is also retired and had a career in some sort of advertising.

IMG_2731 (1)

Alex and Anthony

On the way back through town we stopped at a Chocolaterie called Amelie, it was amazing – so many different types of chocolate, and so many tasting platters! Yum!

IMG_2794

Chocolaterie Amelie

IMG_2788.JPG

Chocolaterie Amelie

Back to the hotel for a shower, and then we went to dinner where we had the most unfriendly waitress ever, and she stayed consistently unhelpful and unfriendly for the evening.

 

Initially I was sitting with Jeff and Dianne, Robert, Graham and Brett. However it was so noisy, and there was quite a long wait so Dianne and Jeff left to eat elsewhere. Robert is one of the Aussie 6, and I never got round to getting a photo of him. He is a psychiatrist who works both in private and public in Sydney.

Dinner was a nice tomato soup, followed by mushy vegetables and tough chicken, with lovely mushroom sauce, and fried potato medallions. Dessert was fresh fruit and sorbet, all served with a frowning, unfriendly waitress. The waitress asked where Jeff and Dianne had gone, and I said they were having problems with the noise and hearing. Her response was “People with hearing problems shouldn’t travel in groups”.

IMG_6743.JPG

Jeff and Dianne, with Miriam (in high vis)

Tomorrow we get into Munich, the end of this stage. A number of riders finish here, including Anthony the cardiologist and his wife Kerrie who is a maternity nurse, who provided assistance when I had the tachycardia the first day riding. I had been planning to get them a bottle of wine all trip and finally did so today. I gave up trying to explain to the wine waiter that I was buying it for another table, as I wasn’t getting anywhere, so just ordered it and when it arrived I took it over to them.

IMG_2729 (1).jpg

Kerrie (left), and Torpie and Darryl (in blue shirt)

We are staying at Mercure Hotel.

IMG_2772.JPG

Editor’s caption: I received no caption for this photo. Nor is there any mention of it in this blog entry. However, I am doing my due diligence and including it here for your enjoyment. 

 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 13: Brixen, Italy to Innsbruck, Austria

94 km: 1,369 meters climbing and 1,426 meters down

The first 3 km was down a steep hill, then for the next 52 km it was mostly up. We went past vineyards and went mostly on bike paths. Some were paved, some were rocky, and some were steep with gradients up to 19%, with slippery stones so I got off and walked.

We spent about 5km on one track that had slips, it was really steep and hard to navigate. When we got to the end of this track it had a barrier across and a sign that the track was closed!

IMG_2712.JPG

Coming out of the closed off bike path

The last 15 km to the Brenner pass / border was a rail trail – yay mostly 2.5% gradient and no more than 4% gradient.

IMG_2722.JPG

Beautiful rail trail – only 2.5% gradient.

IMG_2719

Passing through village of Vipiteno

IMG_2716.JPG

Scenery from the bike path to the Austrian border.

There were lots of cyclists going both ways, some independent touring with panniers, and others in groups, and a surprising number on E bikes.

On the whiteboard we had been told the profile of the day was up to the Pass and then downhill to Innsbruck.

When we started going down the road. it was really busy both ways. I have never seen so many cyclists and motorbikes. It was like it was the national “ride your motorbike” day.

We had about 15 km downhill, and then turned to the right and started climbing again! This was totally unexpected, and not at all welcome. I had pushed really hard in the morning in the belief that it was downhill in the afternoon.

I was hot and tired, and although the views were magnificent, I did not enjoy the next 15 km of steep (up to 17% gradient) up and downhills in the beating sun. Finally the 10 km downhill into Innsbruck.

IMG_2727.JPG

Into Austria, descending down to Innsbruck

Riding through the city to the hotel, I was very careful with the tram lines as they are just the right size to get your bike wheel into and get tipped off. Also the edges of the pavements, if you hit them the wrong way they can also tip you off your bike. Sadly this happened to Janice, one of the riders, just 300 meters from the hotel – she clipped the pavement, went down with a crash, broke her helmet and knocked herself out! Luckily she was riding with Cathy and Peter M who are both ED doctors.

After checking into the hotel we had a cold beer in the hotel bar, and chatted to the Aussie riders Kerry, Tony, Robert, Darry, Torpe and Alex. After this we went out for some dinner and went into a place called Stiftskeller. We ordered red wine and food, and it arrived within 5 minutes! It was actually nicer than I expected given the preparation time!

I had pork cooked in beer and shared a mixed salad with Brett – a different type of mixed salad than I have ever had before: sauerkraut, potato mash with onion, and grated carrot. It was pretty nice. We had a bottle of red wine Blaufrankisch 2014 Weingut Hansigley, which was pretty nice.

IMG_2734

Dinner menu and wine

On the way back to the hotel I noticed a balcony with a number of dummies dressed up like workers. The streets were pretty deserted at only 8 pm at night. We found out the next day it was because the previous day was a holiday. It was Corpus Christi (Roman Rite Liturgical solemnity celebrating Jesus Christ). Corpus Christi is the second Thursday after Whitsun (which is the 8th Sunday after Easter).

The hotel we are staying at is called the Hotel Central.

IMG_2735

Workmen & women figurines

Untitled.png

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 11: Maniago to Cortina d’amezzo

The whiteboard said 120 km, with 2600 meters up and 1100 meters down. I was not sure what the gradient was going to be and was a bit daunted as we set off from the hotel.

We pretty much started climbing straight away, with some sections not so steep. At about 15 km I realised I must not have done the top on one of my water bottles up properly as I have lost it. Hopefully we will pass a shop so I can refill the bottle I have.

We seemed to go up and up and up and up, some tough gradient. At about 30 km we had some very pretty lakes and not much of a gradient for awhile, but then the climb began again. We had a couple of small tunnels, so it was nice and cool inside. At an average speed of approx ten km/hr this was going to be a long day.

IMG_2683

Old rail trail

We passed through a number of villages, and all the houses had impressive stock piles of wood ready for next winter.

At 52 km we went through quite a long tunnel, but it had gaps on the side and way below it was a very pretty town. We had a fantastic 10 km downhill to the town, then climbed up to turn and leave the main road, to go along a side road along the river to the lunch stop.

IMG_2650.JPG

Big climb Day. Check out Kaye’s eyes “WTF have you got for me around the corner you bastard hill?”

At 1:30 pm, after 5 and a half hours riding, I got to lunch. By this stage I had climbed 1,330 meters with only 68.5 km ridden. At this stage, looking at my riding speed I wouldn’t get to the finish until 8 pm. Taking into account my cold and my sore arm, we decided Brett would ride ahead and I would take the truck.

The only problem with that idea, is that on this trip there is a lack of infrastructure and the truck can only take 4 riders – and 6 riders wanted a ride. We tried to order a taxi, not but not surprisingly a driver from Cortina (60 km away) was not keen to come to pick up people from a ‘river’, with not great directions and language barrier.

The next option was to get the dinner truck (the one that goes straight to the hotel and flags the route to come back) which meant a couple of hours wait. Then this wait would be even longer as Gergo, who was driving the dinner truck, had to go and pick up Tony who had come off his bike. We were not clear about why he couldn’t then continue to come and get two of us. So then we had a bit of a standoff: none of the 6 of us now want to start riding, as another hour has past and we will be looking at arriving at 9pm instead of 8pm.

Without any other solution apart from two of us riding, and not wanting to be involved in deciding who that will be, I asked John W if he is prepared to hitch hike with me.

John W and I set off taking our helmets (but not our bikes as they can go on the rack on the back of the truck) with us to hitchhike. To start we had to walk back the 3 km to where we left the main road – while wearing our cycling shoes.

Luckily once we got there the 12th car stopped for us. The male driver was Italian and spoke no English, he wasn’t going as far as Cortina but agreed to give us a lift to where he was going. He wanted to know where our bikes were, but with the language barrier we were not able to explain.  We did manage to convey that we had accommodation in Cortina, and John knew how to say it was a beautiful country.

We thought at least if we get to a town we will be better off. Well bless this man, there may have been a language barrier but he took us into the middle of a town about 20 km from where he had picked us up, and dropped us off at a bus stop. We offered him money but he wouldn’t take any.

So there we are at the bus stop trying unsuccessfully to read the bus timetable in Italian, when a bus turned up.
We asked the driver “do you go to Cortina?”
“No” he said “3 minutes”, then got out of his bus, locked it, and went across the road!
So then John and I are wondering does he mean he drives the bus to Cortina but not for 3 minutes?
Well exactly 3 minutes later the bus to Cortina arrived! To say we were happy would be an understatement! The bus took us to Cortina and dropped us off in the centre of town at the bus stop. Then we just had to find the hotel! Would you believe, right there in front of us: orange flagging  tape! Which we followed the 2.5 km to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel at exactly the same time as a Brett, who had of course made excellent time not having to wait for me.

Tony, the rider who came off his bike, was unharmed but broke the hanger for the derailer and had no spare! Luckily the bike shop in Cortina, whilst not having the correct one for his bike, managed to fashion one to fit.

On arriving at the hotel I immediately had a cold beer with John W, Brett and Walker (all four of us did the Trans Europa in 2012).

IMG_2668

Safe arrival beers: 2 riders, 2 hitch hikers!!!

Afterwards, I had dinner with John, Walker, Brett and Graham. We had pasta with tomato sauce, Chicken schnitzel  (nasty and dry), Strudel and ice cream, and Red wine called Pinot Nero

The Hotel we are staying at is called Menardi Hotel.

IMG_2671.JPG

View from the balcony

Introducing
Walker and his Wife Carol – both retired
Walker and Carol did the 2nd half of the 2012 TransEuropa
They are from USA. Walker was an investment banker and Carol a music teacher. Carol is on a singing tour (she is in a choir) of the UK, whilst Walker is doing the ride. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren, no cats or dogs.

John W and Marilyn (doesn’t ride), they have 2 sons, no pets
John is an almost retired university professor from Vancouver, he still does some consulting. This is his 4th TDA ride.

 

IMG_2665

1956 Olympic ski run

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 8 – Malinska,Croatia to Trieste, Italy

119 km – 1,430 climbing and 1452 down

I woke up feeling a bit jaded after the last long day yesterday, plus the 3 days of riding already this section. I am really looking forward to a rest day tomorrow, especially as we will be in Italy.

For breakfast I had black tea and toast. Well sort of toast, really warm bread, as even after being put through the toaster three times it still was not what I would have called toasted, but by that time there were people waiting … so I didn’t feel I could put it though again.

To start off the day of course a climb, and then some a reasonable downhill followed by a big uphill, but with a reasonable gradient. At about 30 km, after 10 km climbing, we came to a turn where to the left was to go down and to the right we would have kept going up. We went left to go down through the city of Rijeka.

IMG_2562

Port of Bakar

After going through Rijeka at 38 km, to lunch at 71 km, it was all up. Mostly a reasonable gradient, but it was steep from 66 km. At 50 km I realised that I had lost one of my water bottles and I only had half a bottle of water left! I was hoping there would be another shop, as half a bottle of water wasn’t going to last the 20 km to lunch.

At 55 km there was a pub so we called in there and bought water. Two other riders were there, Greg and Maureen. Greg’s wife Janice is on the trip as well but they don’t ride together as she is faster than him, so he rides with another rider Maureen. I told them about my water bottle and Gregg asked was it a blue camel back bottle, which it was. Turned out it had come off my bike on a bit of bumpy road and a passing motorist had picked it up, and recognised that Gregg had the same trip placard on his bike and given it to him. Thank you kind Croatian motorist 😀 I was so relieved to have my second water bottle back, and the nice man at the pub filled them both up for me.

IMG_2563

Time for a beer in Slovenia 🇸🇮 before entering Italy. (Kaye just had sparkling water)

Then back out in the heat to ride onwards and upwards. This seemed endless. At 67 km and 69 km I had to get off my bike, I was done! Gregg said that the climb finished at 80 km, I was not sure I had another 10 km of climbing in me!

At 71km I got to the lunch truck. Thankfully the Slovenian border did not require all the cyclists to go across in a group, otherwise I would have had some very annoyed fellow cyclists waiting for me, as I was the second to last to lunch. Brett came in after me as he had stopped just around the corner at the money changer. Caitlin (TDA) and the other 4 riders at lunch didn’t believe me when they asked where Brett was and I replied “I dropped him on the hills, as he couldn’t keep up with me”.

After lunch we crossed the Slovenian  🇸🇮 border. We were in Slovenia for 30 km, then headed into Italy.

After the border crossing there was quite a steep upwards gradient. At 75 km I was thinking “I am not going to be able to cycle another 5 km uphill” – at least 3 of the other riders had gone in the truck. At 76 km I was close to tears, riding at an average speed of 6.5 km an hour, which would be almost another hour of this. I gritted my teeth and carried on, one pedal stroke at a time.

Then at 76.5 km there was a down hill, I was thinking “hopefully it will last at least a km
– well it was pretty much downhill the rest of the day to Trieste 👍👍👍

There was uphill, but generally you had a good speed and could get up most of the hill for free, and nothing involved granny gear (the smallest gear) for more than 2-3 minutes at a time.

At 103.5km we crossed the border into Italy 😀  🇮🇹

IMG_2565

At the Italian border – 3 countries in one day on our bikes.

Grego (TDA tour leader) had recommended that we turn at 112.1 km and do a 10 km detour to see the Lipica horse Museum. The Lipica horses are white when they are adults, but when they are born until they are two they are black. Given that we were already estimating 5pm to get to the hotel we decided not to make the 10 km detour, however if we had known that from 112.1 km it was a continuous downhill we would have made the detour.

We arrived tired and hot at 5pm as predicted, at the Urban Hotel. Thankfully it was Saturday so we did not have to contend with rush hour traffic coming into Trieste.

The room is comfortable, but no view unless you count a concrete wall, but I am just happy to be here.

After a shower the first task, as always, is checking out the laundry situation. There is a laundromat, or Lavanderia as called in Italy, around the corner but they don’t do it for you. We checked they are open on Sunday, so will leave it until tomorrow.

We went for a walk, first of all we went to Italy’s largest sea facing Plaza called a Piazza del Unita d’Italia, where they were having an outdoor concert. We decided to have a cold beer at a bar on the corner of the plaza. It wasn’t until we were sitting down that we noticed the bar was blocking the lovely concert with its own music. We stayed there and had the beer, which came in a huge glass, as there wasn’t anywhere else to sit in the square. As it was very hot afterwards we went for a walk along the sea front. So many boats/yachts, and 2 super boats worth a few million each.

IMG_2568

Reward for a hard earned thirst 🍺

We went into a place called “Eataly” which is like the Mediterranean Food Warehouse in Newtown but 6 times the size.

19030206_1403238839765010_7219205784074277356_n.jpg

At Eataly

So far the whole trip I have seen no stray dogs, and only a few dogs with their owners in the places we have passed through, but in Italy there are dogs everywhere. Still no stray dogs but every second person here appears to have a dog of some shape or size. They are allowed in the food court and restaurants, everywhere you look they are snoozing under tables. or as in the Eataly walking with their owners, nose on full twitch.

18951301_1403238846431676_263636530809579538_n

A dog inside Eataly (Editor’s note: A greyhound!!! Woohoo! Look at its little white socks)

They seem welcome everywhere, apart from one restaurant where there was a sign “no dogs”! Guess what the outcome was? Unlike every other place that was full, there were only two diners in this restaurant!

unnamed

No dogs = no diners! 

We decided to have dinner there, it was pretty good. Wine was a white Bastianich Friulano. This came in a wine bucket with slushy ice pellets which is much better at keeping the wine chilled than ice cubes.

To eat we had Orecchiette con pesto and gambeni, and Tagliolini con scampi alla.

After the big glass of beer I needed to use the restroom. I locked the door and then it wouldn’t open again. I tried it every setting numerous. times but it wouldn’t open! Unbelievable! So then I resorted to kicking the door and shouting help! Someone must have heard me as an attendant came and unlocked the door and let me out. She asked me if I had tried unlocking the door. There were many responses to this, and I chose putting up my hand and walking past her to the sink, where I couldn’t make the water work. Luckily the tap in wheelchair toilet worked.

Then back to the hotel to bed, with the luxury of a sleep in and no riding tomorrow.

Introducing some of the TDA riders

Scott and wife Janice from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. It is both their first TDA ride. President of big fishing company .
Janice and Scott now work with indigenous people restocking Salmon reserves. They have no pets and no children.

Yvonne and husband Scott from Alaska, this is their USA 3rd TDA ride
Yvonne is a retired epidemiologist and Scott is a retired Economist. They have 2 daughters and their eldest daughter has done 3 TDA rides.
Yvonne is Chinese and is struggling with the food on the trip as she does not eat bread, milk, cheese, cereal, or processed meat – which has been pretty much the food so far. So today in Trieste she will be able to eat food she likes.

19030209_1403812856374275_5950219793809326585_n

Waterfront outside Hotel Jadran, Sibernik

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 5: Split to Sibenik

88km, 800 meters climbing and 800 meters descent, with no hill more than 80 meters in total

Not sure how it will go with riding, my arm feels better today than yesterday but is still very sore. I took 2 Panafon and an anti inflammatory, and headed down for breakfast.

Breakfasts generally consist of some sweet cereal, even if it’s rolled oats it’s full of little chocolate bits, so I stay away from it. Generally scrambled eggs or omelette , yoghurt, and a range of cake, meat, fruit, cheese, and bread and rolls, some days a toaster and juice. I generally have a yoghurt and toast if there is a toaster, or bread and cheese if there isn’t. Black tea is hard to locate, but thankfully I have a box so I bring a couple of bags with me each morning.

After breakfast we had to bring the bikes down the stairs from the 3rd floor which was a bit of a challenge with my arm, I had to carry the bike on the other side and stop after each flight.

At 8am we left in a convoy, only a 7km one today. Getting on and off my bike is difficult but possible, and I can use my brakes. My arm is uncomfortable – 4/10 on the pain scale but compared to sitting in a truck most of the day it is doable.

Riding along, having trouble getting on and off the bike and braking, I was thinking about my friend Wendy who had a very nasty accident a couple of years ago, which has left her with very limited use of her right hand – I had a small insight into her world.

IMG_2497.JPG

A town called Marina

Thankfully the riding today is easy, fresh legs, and no big hills. Before I know it we are at lunch. Beautiful spot for lunch, jaw dropping view, amazing harbours, clear blue water, sandy beaches. Every turn is more beautiful.

 

IMG_2500.JPG

Lunch stop

I found it a bit difficult going through the towns with the traffic lights, having to get on and off my bike, and the last few km had a couple of climbs but then a descent to the hotel along another promenade. We stayed at the Hotel Jadran, not as flash as the one in Split but pretty nice. The hotel is very dated, another place that would have been grand in its day. The carpet is worn but the room is small, clean, and comfortable.

There is quite a lot of noise outside which turns out be a basketball tournament which goes on until about midnight.

Before dinner we walked up and down the promenade looking at the boats and ships. They are all in beautiful order. They range from small to charter boats to ships.

IMG_2507

Sibenik Waterfront

Tonight I had dinner with Brett and John and Walker, both who rode with us on the Trans-Europa. John rode from St Petersburg to Barcelona, and Walker and his wife Carol joined us in Venice and rode to Lisbon.

Dinner was a vegetable soup, over cooked fish / over cooked chicken / mushed vegetables and cold chips, and a really nice lemon and strawberry ice cream.
Plus we shared a couple of bottles of chilled red wine, can’t remember the type.

 

I went to sleep with the loud music blasting.

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 3: Monday 5 June – Tucepi to Split

Riding 76 km: 1,033 up and 1,029 down

So the bites I was not so concerned about last night are large welts today, and I still have no idea what bit me.

Breakfast was back in the enormous dining room again. Yay I found a toaster. Unfortunately what I thought was a small container of jam was pate or possibly spam! Luckily I managed to find jam. It’s a beautiful spot but couldn’t spend a week here eating buffet food made for the thousands.

Once again it was as hot as it is at midday in summer in Wellington before we left the hotel.

As we had come down a few kms to the hotel yesterday, I was expecting to climb out. We had a busy road and we were stuck in the traffic for the first 5 or so km. The drivers were pretty good, with only a couple of cars honking at us as we sat in front of them at the lights. No sure what the honking was meant to achieve.

IMG_2408

Looking down from highway over Makarska

After this there were ups and downs for the first 20 km. At 21 km whilst climbing I was looking with joy and anticipation at the road not far ahead, stretching into the distance, with a lovely long descent 😀 but just as I got to the flat before the start of the downhill there was an orange flag directing us to take a sharp right turn and start climbing up. Thankfully this climb was only just over a km, and then we turned left and headed down hill again.

We were out in the countryside with the occasional house, it was very peaceful after the busy traffic. We then had quite a steep down hill which was great but on the way down I was thinking “of course what follows a steep downhill is an equally steep uphill”. The uphill was not steep but was a steady 7 km climb. I was getting worried about how slow I was going, until we got to the town of Radici where the rest of the riders were all stopped for a coffee, so I can’t have been that far behind them, as they were all still drinking.

I had a lovely ice cold water to drink, and to fill up my water bottle with. So far today I have drunk 4 bottles of water and it’s only mid morning.

I noticed whilst sitting there that the bite on my left leg was really itchy, so I had a look – it was now much bigger and swollen, and had a raised head in the middle. I decided it was time to take an antihistamine – luckily I carry some on the bike in case I get bitten by a bee.

Off again, two more km up, then mostly down through Canyon Cetine, until we came to a gorgeous holiday town called Omis. As we were riding into Omis I was looking at my right where there was a huge switchback going up and up and up. I was thinking please don’t let that be where we are going.

We rode into the town, having a look around, and we were going straight: so far so good. Then we turned right, crossed across the river, and my heart sunk: yep we were heading to the 6 km quite steep switchback.

We got to climb this in 36 degrees, plus the added heat of the sun off the rocks. It was hideous, and after what seemed forever I passed the sign by the side of the road: only 3 km climbed! 3 km more to go!

On and on I went. By 5 km I was swept (where the sweep catches up with you, meaning you are last) and I was walking (they call it a “push bike” because you can push it 😀).

At about 5.5 k there was a nice cool corner where I and a few of the other riders had a rest. At 52 km I was finally at the top. This was followed by 3 km of pretty flat gradient to lunch. There were a number of riders still at lunch, a couple looking as stuffed as I felt.

IMG_2421

From the bridge at sea level in Omis, the big hot climb back up, I’ve made it

After lunch I was not thrilled to be getting back on my bike again. Joyfully the next 12 km were all downhill 👍👍 all the way till 67 km. Then only 6 km to go, how hard could that be?

IMG_2418

Followed down Cetina River to pass through the gorge at Omis.

We went uphill for about 2 km, with crazy busy motorway speed traffic, with no shoulder. I was very scared, lots of cars and trucks helpfully tooting at us. As well as having no shoulder, there was gutter with a downward gradient that I was worried about getting my wheels into, in case I came off my bike.

IMG_2411

I wanted the low road, but no we had to go up and over

This was followed by a downhill for another km, speeding traffic, no shoulder, and having to cross to the centre lane to turn to the town we were staying in. Thankfully there was a traffic light, otherwise we would probably still be there!

 

Then 6 km, not as busy to the hotel. We stayed at the Bellevue Hotel, which would have been a grand hotel in its day, but is now very dated. Very pretty seaside city, lovely promenade. The population in Split 178,000.

IMG_2427_edited.jpg

Hotel Bellevue on the waterfront

Once we arrived, first we had to take bike up 3 sets of stairs to the room they are being stored in. Then bags up to the room. I lay down on the bed and had a nap. Then up, showered, and off to find a laundry. Luckily there was one just up the road. Then off to have a look around, and get a cold beer.

IMG_2429

Promenade on the Split Waterfront

We sat in one of the seaside bars and had water and a not-cold enough Croatian beer called Amber. It was really hot, so we left to find somewhere cooler to sit. We went up an alley way and into in the old town (UNESCO heritage site) and were in an old courtyard which was lovely and cool, and had a nice breeze following through it.

We decided to eat at a restaurant called Tavola. We had a sea food platter for two with a bottle of pleasant white Cossetto Malvazija recommended by the waiter. The sea food platter had tuna, sea bass, prawn and mussels. The mussels were tasty but tiny.

After dinner we decided to go for a walk along the waterfront. We got an ice cream and stopped to watch some children playing. It was very pleasant down by the water, the heat had gone out of the day. Then we continued walking. Unfortunately I walked onto some pavers that were slimy with fishy water, and as I was wearing jandals I had no traction and went for a skate. I went backwards,  with a crash landing on my hand, then hitting my head. I was lucky in that my head just missed a bollard!

The result was one fishy smelling dress and a very sore arm. Hopefully it will settle over night and hopefully is just a sprain and will not be bad enough to send me home.

IMG_2423

View from my room at Hotel Bellevue

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 2: Mostar to Tucepi

95 km riding today: 1,244 meters of climbing and 1,268 meters descent

It’s already as hot as Wellington gets on a summers day when we leave. During the day the heat gets up to 37 degrees Celsius.

The first part of the ride is climbing up for the first few kilometres, then some descents followed by steady climbs.

IMG_2395.JPG

Vineyards! 

We got to the border at 46 km, and all had to meet up there to cross together. Thankfully when faced with 45 riders, 3 staff, and vans stacked with bags, the Bosnian  border just waved us through. Once we got to the Croatia side it was a simple passport stamp and off we went.

Coming into Bosnia the riders who did the first section were standing for over an hour in the heat getting through the border, so everyone was relieved not to have this repeated.

IMG_2397

Just crossed over into Croatia

The next 20 km were climbing, which was a bit of a struggle and I had to stop a couple of times. Lunch was at about 15 km. After lunch more climbing, followed by a nice descent, followed by a long hot climb.

At 67 km I was thinking I am not going to be able to finish the day. I got to 71 km where I thought the descent started, thank god I thought, but no! A descent for 2 km, then climbing again!

IMG_2400.JPG

Another hill to climb

Then thankfully at 82 km, just when my legs were giving up, there was a long descent. The last 4 km we turned off the main road, and came down a very steep and narrow track to the coast. I got off and walked a stretch as it was so steep.

IMG_2398

Have a go at this in Croatia

Down on the coast, Tucepi is a lovely holiday town, with a beautiful beach and lots of hotels. We stayed at a Hotel called the Blue Sun. It was a very big hotel with a big swimming pool, and a number of outside areas and bars. The room had a small balcony looking out to the sea.

When we got there, there was a note on the white board that Grego (tour leader) had weighed the bags, and orange stickered those weighing over 23 kg, with an instruction that they needed to be 23 kg the next day. Thankfully my bag was not one of these, as there really is nothing I have that I don’t need.

The beach looked so inviting so off I went for a swim. Instead of sand there were quite big pebbles, and it was quite rough to walk over. The water was lovely and warm.

IMG_2404_edited

comparing the Adriatic Sea to Titahi Bay

I noticed later that I had a number of bites on my back and side, not sure if there was something in the water, like a jelly fish, as had I not felt anything bite me. I did not think too much of it at the time.

IMG_2405

At the Hotel Beach, where’s my boatshed?

Dinner was an experience: a dining room that would have sat 1,000 plus people, with three separate buffet counters (all serving the same food). The hotel has a number of tours where the table was reserved. The buffet catered to a number of tastes, including the English tourists with roast meat and chips available. Whilst it was not high up on the gourmet scale, there was food that was ok to eat, especially after a few hours on a bike.

The other riders are very welcoming, the majority have done TDA tours before. In the first section there was only one rider who had not ridden with TDA before. In this section there are 7 riders from Sydney.  They are a group of friends who have done a number of rides together. Over the next week or so, once I have got a handle on the names, I will introduce them.

IMG_2406

Sunset over the hotel in Tucepi

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 1: Sarajevo to Mostar – 132km

132 km today: 1,100 up and 1,500 down.

I was very relieved when I woke up to find out that it was 1,100 metres climbing, not 2,000 meters.

IMG_2388.JPG

Today’s whiteboard (Editor’s note: Just casually a mention of landmines!! Kaye neglected to mention that part) 

To start it was a convoy for the first 15 km out of town. We rode right along Snipers Alley almost all the way to the airport. It was quite sobering to think that just over 20 years ago there were snipers targeting this area.

In the morning it was quite cool, but by 10 am it was sweltering. I had not done enough training, but two weeks before I left I had comfortably climbed Makara Hill at home, which is over 2 km with a reasonable gradient. So 30 km into the ride I was surprised to find I was struggling to get up a 4% gradient. First off I thought I must be dehydrated so I drank more water. Then I had to get off a couple of times.

Finally I got to the top and started down quite a steep decline. Halfway down I stopped to let my rims cool down (rims can get hot enough to pop your tyre with rim brakes). At this stage I became aware of my heart rate being unusually fast. The next 20 km to lunch was pretty much all downhill so I decided to keep going to lunch.

After sitting for about 10 minutes at lunch I took my pulse, it was 140 with some ectopic (extra) beats (a normal heart rate is 60 – 100). One of the other riders Kerry is a nurse so I asked her to check my pulse, she was concerned, then it turns out her husband Antony is a cardiologist, so she got him to check too.  He said my pulse wasn’t usual, but hopefully would correct itself, but no riding until my pulse was normal. So on day one (!!!) it was into the lunch truck for me.

IMG_2389

Overlooking the dam at Ostrozac before lunch

The ride after lunch was pretty scenic, stunning green lake and pancake mountains, but also contained a number of the numerous tunnels in this and the first section of the ride,  some short, some long, some well lit, and some in total darkness. The worst one today was 600 meters unlit with the road surface uneven.  To add to this, the traffic was heavy and there was very little shoulder.

IMG_2391

Afternoon along the gorge, more tunnels and river reflections

The Bosnian war also affected Mostar. Mostar is a world heritage site because of the 15 and 16 century architecture. Of most note the Mostar bridge, which was once the biggest man-made arch in the world. This bridge and many other buildings were destroyed in the conflict, but the Mostar bridge has been completely rebuilt. Link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/946

mostar-bridge-3.jpg

Photo credit: http://www.travelmint.com/destinations/mostar-bridge.asp

I am still not used to the novelty of all hotels. No tent to put when you arrive in camp, plus all the dinners are in a restaurant.

My room is tiny, just enough space for a bed and a couple of bags, but it has an ensuite, you can stand up inside it, and it doesn’t have to be packed up in the morning! Antony checked my pulse again when I arrived, it was down to 90 so heading in the right direction.

Dinner was at 7 in the restaurant. It started with a salad, then a chicken and noodle soup, followed by a meat platter with potato. Plus a dessert that I didn’t eat, which was a date pudding smothered in honey, it looked nice but I was full.

Strictly water for dinner tonight for me: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, or any other stimulant. I’m thinking it was possibly the really strong cup of coffee I had this morning that was the culprit for my increased heart rate.

Off to bed and asleep by 9. I slept really well until 6 am, so am getting adjusted to the time change.

Addition to day:
My pulse was back to a normal resting 60 beats a minute when I woke up, and I rode all day without a problem. I plan stay away from really strong coffee in future.

IMG_2384.JPG

Sarajevo Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart (Editor’s note: I think this was supposed to go with yesterday’s post. My bad).

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