Sept 17, 2022
Stage 12 of 36, day 13 of 43: 110.5 km, 1184m climb, 4:54 Moving, 6:11 Total, 66.2 kph max
Last night at dinner we had the usual “Marmot” ceremony. There is a little marmot doll that travels with the group. Each night in camp, whoever has it tells some stories from the day or whatever they feel like saying, then passes it on to another person. Last night Lex told some stories then mentioned that I had accidentally left my tent, packed up, leaning against a tree, some distance from the truck and it was a lucky thing someone saw it and it wasn’t left behind [this part was all true]. Then he explained that I hadn’t even used it that night – I had just been at the dance party next door, all night. And voila I was presented with the marmot.
Today felt like things were really settling in and working well. It also marks the one-third point of the riding stages, 12 done, 24 to go. After a nice breakfast with pancakes, we packed up and started riding at 7:45. Everyone was looking at various weather and wind apps trying to figure out what it would be like – the consensus was bad headwinds all day and hard rain later in the day. We set out, into the wind, riding slow. But all that changed after just a kilometer. We turned and all was golden. Downhill with tailwinds! And scenic with no hint of rain! This went on for a long time, riding in a great group. I got out ahead with Simo for quite a while, then he dropped me on a hill.
A little later I was on a climb and realized I had made a wrong turn. I turned around and found a large group had made the same mistake. So we all corrected and rode up the big climb of the day together.
We rode past grapes growing (and ready or over ready to be picked). And figs, way over ripe on the tree – tasty as dried fruit. Marc and I opted out on a coffee stop and continued together to lunch at 65 km. The guys had a barren spot on the side of the road but the vans were strategically placed to make shade.
We were about first there and had a lovely time, eating and chatting. After a while we took off. Marc’s Garmin had decided to stop working so he needed someone with directions. We had some great descents, riding through tiny villages, past a million olive trees and some steep but short climbs. We also rode through the town of Trogir which was mobbed with people but beautiful.
After a while we could see Split ahead and around 90 km, we stopped at a little café for some Radler (Anita’s idea – she’s from Germany) – very good call.
Fortified, we cranked out the last 20 in a group of 6. Rob’s route ended with what looked like a detour, way around a peninsula but it looked like a park on the map so we followed. It turned out to be a perfect tree-shaded bike path, a great way to end the ride.
We pulled in by the hotel and there was a large city park. Caroline, our new cook, had set out a bunch of delicious food, and we laughed as we ate about how the weather forecasts had been so wrong. Then Katie texted and we had a great 50 minute call, me laying on my back looking at the sky and the trees. I SO love WhatsApp. After that it was dark and cloudy but still no rain. We all checked in to the hotel and I got a nice room with Bob and working A/C. Writing this now, after a nice shower, the first time in dry cool air for days…is super great! The day didn’t end up as we expected, but was super fun. Tomorrow is a rest day then the next day we have a 10:30 ferry to catch – everyone’s looking forward to time off the bikes, especially in a great city like Split. Our hotel is right on the water with swimming in a pool or the sea.
Ok so then there was dinner. How do I even describe it? Bob carefully looked up an awesome sounding place and he and I went with Niek, early, and arrived to find most seats free.
But no, it’s reservation only and we were SOL. It was rated 4.6 and looked awesome. But next door was a much smaller place, rated 4.7, with only 2 small tables outside and 3 inside. We asked and the owner said he’d have a free table in 10 minutes, drink these while you wait. So we did. Sure enough after 10 minutes we sat down, ordered a round of beers and then all the seafood things on the menu: squid w/fava beans, shrimp with barley and fried squid with vegetables. All very large portions, then a bottle of their finest white wine, and after dinner drinks on the house, so so fun. We were joined by a funny cellist from California – it was a grand gourmet experience. The cellist recommended a fantastic gelato place and we all indulged massively. This is truly fine living.