Balkan Stage 2 Lake Bled to Bovec

Sept 6, 2022

Stage 2 of 36, day 2 of 43: 82.41 km, 1574m, 4:43 moving, 5:25 total, 69.5 kph max

Total through 2 stages: 203.4km, 3533m climb

I slept a little better, maybe due to a gift of a melatonin pill. I packed up at 6:30, breakfast at 7, and we started about 8. Breakfast was the typical Bike Dreams: muesli/granola cereal, with creamy good yogurt and honey, banana and milk. Then a round of bread with peanut butter and super good cherry jam. Plus tea.

We started with a little climbing, warm in the sun. Soon we were out in the country, going up a very little used road, cool and shady. It gently climbed as we went up a valley with gorgeous views. That ended abruptly with a 18% grade sign.

End of the fun riding for a while

Sure enough, it was steep. But not so long. Then a fun descent to a town were we picked up a bike path and took it for quite a while. Then up onto the “Russian Road”, which turned out to have a ton of traffic and be very steep. The climb was 800m over 8km, but some sections were way over 10%. Each switchback is numbered and I was counting it off in 50m chunks – they came rather slowly. I stopped for a banana and pee break, then continued. When I was down to 2km/200m to go, there was the lunch truck! They found a super scenic spot and it was SO nice to get off and eat.

Best office in the world
Let’s eat!

I was pretty hot and it takes a lot of concentration riding the super steep switchbacks with motorcycles and camper vans everywhere. The jam ups gave the motorcycles problems too – I saw one couple crash and the passenger fell over hard landing on her head – she was ok but it was a little chaotic.

After lunch, I was energized but it seemed even steeper and hotter. Still how hard can 2 km be? Soon we were on the top, a zoo of people.

The highest pass in Slovenia
Scenic in the direction we’re headed

The descent was nice but comically crowded. I first passed a couple groups of 15-20 bicyclists, then two groups of 10 motorcycles, a bus, several cars and camper vans. Even with no one in front it was too steep to ride very fast. After the descent there was about 20 km to go, mostly downhill with a couple of little climbs at the end. The camp in Bovec is nothing to write home about, but not bad. Various people went out on beer runs. We had some delicious pepper/cauliflower soup and tons of snacks. Eventually hot showers happened and I scored a pretty nice tent spot.

Scenic camp

All in all it was a good day of riding. My back is feeling quite good now, basically cured I think. My Achilles on both feet are sore – we are staying here two nights so I have the option of not riding the ridiculous climb tomorrow…

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