Balkan Stage 1, Ljubljana to Lake Bled

Stage 1 of 36, day 1 of 43: 121.1km, 1969m, 6:23 moving, 7:00 total, 75.8 kph max

After a second night of only 4 hours sleep, I woke up to fog but great excitement to be finally starting this adventure. There was a massive breakfast at 7, loading the truck, then we set out around 8:15. I hadn’t really tested my bike but it was perfect. We cruised through the city for a while, then countryside. After about 20 km the fog lifted and it got really beautiful. Everyone rode at their own pace, no leader, I was with others and solo sometimes throughout the day.

Just left the hotel in Ljubljana, on the road again!

It was scenic, climbing slowly the first 50 km, then we had the first and biggest of 3 big climbs. It was over 10 km climbing about 800m. I kept a sane pace and stopped once to pee and eat a banana. It was warm and slightly humid, but noticeably cooler/nicer up high. At the top of the hill we found the lunch truck and had a nice refueling stop. Bread, pesto, cheese, tomato, pickle, arugula, chips, olives, cookies and more. I didn’t stay too long but headed out soon. The descent was pretty great – lots of fast curvy fun, only occasionally braking, lots of 60+ kph which felt so nice in the cool higher-altitude air. My back had been bothering me a lot but it was fine during the ride.

After some more flattish and super scenic cruising, the second hill hit. It wasn’t as steep or as long, but I was more tired so it wasn’t a lot easier. Then there was a third one, again a little smaller – by this time we had climbed 1900m, pretty rough for a first stage. Then a final descent, even faster. One section was 18% down but was too curvy to go fast. The 10% section below was better. Slovenia has lots of electronic speed signs, and one of them I passed said 76 kph in big red letters and then drew a picture of a speed limit 50 sign. The pavement was great, the turns mellow, little traffic; it was quite safe.

Slovenia is like a less controlled Switzerland
Looking back down to the road we were just on

Then we arrived at the famous Lake Bled. We got to ride quite a ways around it, ending at Camping Bled, a huge campground, with hot water for showers, lots of tent space, free wifi, what more do you need? It was immediately back to the routine from the Andes Trail: first a round of soup, this time coconut cauliflower, a recipe from the cook on the barge Katie and I were on in Holland recently – our cook worked on board the same barge. Plus chips, drinks, cookies as needed, nuts, candies, whatever you like it’s there. I have a giant 3 person tent and a wonderful self-inflating mattress – I set up quickly, took a shower, then settled in to write this. What a first day!

It’s nice but somewhat overrun with tourists like us, many on bikes
View from near the campground
My tent and a couple of bikes
Luxury camping!

After a nap, we had dinner at 6 with lots of fun conversations. It’s so cool to be back in this life I haven’t had for the last 3 years.

Funny thing of the day: there are so many Wordle varients it’s not even funny. When someone makes the obvious Spordle (Slovenian placenames Wordle) I found a real winner today: Strnj. I tried googling it with no luck, wish I took a photo for proof.

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