Sept 9, 2022
Stage 5 of 36, day 5 of 43: 72.04 km, 552m climb, 3:23 Moving, 4:20 Total, 54.6 kph max
It was a miraculous day. We went to sleep the night before knowing that the weather forecast had been solid for a couple of days: hard rain during the hours we would ride. But in the morning that was hard to believe as we looked out to see almost no clouds. We had a decent hotel breakfast, cleaned bike chains, packed up and left a bit after 9am. It was warm and sunny, but there were some eerie very dark clouds out to sea as we rode south along the coast, crossing back into Slovenia after just 5 km in Italy.
Our luck held and we had some fun gravel sections. This day had two GPX tracks, 5 and 5g where g stands for gravel. The gravel option was said to be a tiny bit shorter and would cut off some sections with bad traffic so of course I took it, along with many others.
After that we had a climb that included a tunnel over 500m long, and the second we were out on the other side, my phone said “Welcome to Croatia”. Also the sky got way darker.
It started raining at 33 km but somehow the weather gods smiled and it just stopped. A little later we rode through a very wet area but it never rained on us again. Feeling good, we hit the official Croatia border station. It was a bit of a zoo with many cars and a few others on bikes too. The Europeans just flashed their cards but the border lady was very interested in my American passport and scanned it for a long time before stamping it.
Then we were off on a Croatian gravel climb up to a beautiful viewpoint with a view of scary clouds over the sea. We stopped for snacks and photos.
We had some more gravel sections, lots of turns and then one comically muddy section. But the sun was out and the next thing we saw was Ype’s lunch van, at a gorgeous spot on the coast.
From lunch it was under 20 km. It really felt like a half day. We rode up and down, through a funny holiday park and eventually came to the campground and found the Bike Dreams truck. By this time I was hot, so I didn’t bother with a shower or soup, just put on my bathing suit and went in to the Adriatic Sea. It was so nice, I’d go so far as to say perfect – about 24-25C/75F, refreshing and pretty clean.
After a long soak, several of us had hot outdoor showers, ate soup and then headed to the bar that had just opened. Local beers were cold and yummy – we spent a couple of nice hours there.
Eventually it was time to set up my tent and prepare for dinner – I was on the serving crew tonight. We had bruschetta appetizer, pasta with shrimp/mushroom sauce, salad, lots of wine and dessert. There were basil plants at each table to harvest from. Then the washing line to clean a million plates, pots and utensils and we were done. What a great day!