Sept 13, 2022
Stage 8 of 36, day 9 of 43: 137.4 km, 2147m climb, 6:02 Moving, 8:11 Total, 66.2 kph max
By the numbers today was one of the hardest stages of the tour but at least there was the option to reduce it by 10 km and around 400m of climbing. Starting out, I wasn’t planning to take that option of course. We started as usual, I think the coolest morning yet, ok but barely with short sleeves. We cruised in a group about 30 km, up and down, on uncrowded roads.
At some point though, my Garmin told me I was starting the fourth climb of the day, 19.2 km long with 1320m of climb.
That’s only a 7% average but the bottom as not steep so the real average was more. As we climbed I got hot and my legs were sore… at one point my Garmin told me it was a 16% grade which is hard. So when I hit the turn-off to the summit, I didn’t even think twice – I cruised by and down 1 km to lunch. Several of us did this but it was impressive how many people did the extra climb, or most of it.
Lunch was up around 1000m with an amazing view down to Rijeka and the rest of the day’s route – we could even just see the bridge to Krk island, far away.
After a great lunch, Rien and I headed down together. The descent was fun and pretty fast, too curvy for real high speed but fast enough to be fun, and SO much easier than climbing the other side. We caught Tim on the way down and the 3 of us then rode together most of the rest of the way.
It was 13km of semi-urban riding to get to Rijeka, some city riding, then more km to get out of town. We climbed up a big hill and right on top was a great little café. Tim bought us an amazing amount of carbonated fizzy drinks and no surprise we finished them all. I think 750ml for me. It was sunny and warm and we were all dehydrated.
We had a beautiful 7 km descent and met Donna at the bottom, then continued. Here we were on the route I had unicycled with Beau and others back in 2007 – it felt really cool to be riding the exact same roads again. One more climb and we were at the start of the famous Krk Bridge (Krčki most). This was really nostalgic too, although it’s more built up and there was more traffic than I remembered.
After the bridge we were on Krk Island, a place so exclusive it requires no vowels at all. We soldiered on, and on and on, and eventually got to get off the busy main road, but it was still a long way with lots of climbing to our camp. Success finally occurred and I was really glad. For me the day was the hardest yet and I was pretty used up. It was just past 4pm.
Tim may have saved me by suggesting (strongly) that we had to have a beer before showers or anything else. Good plan.
Feeling refreshed I set up my tent, had a wonderful shower, then some soup and snacks.
Before we knew it, it was 6pm and time for dinner. We ate long and hard, drinking Croatian Cabernet. After dessert, Wilbert gave us the briefing for a relatively complicated day tomorrow. It sounds like relatively easy riding, but it’s in four pieces separated by three ferry rides and the first one is at 7:45 so we have to start half an hour earlier than usual.
I must say, I am REALLY looking forward to a massive sleep tonight.