- Elizabeth Cameron-Smith
Day 68- Škofja to Štorje, Slovenia
"This rates as one of the hardest rides I have ever done.If there was ever a day that was sent to inspire me to give up cycling - today was definitely that day without a doubt! Just surviving to fight another day it seems...."
- Grant - voice note
100 km and a climb of 990 meters today.
Loose gravel, muddy tracks, rain, sunshine, drizzle, thunder and lightning were the order of the day.
The ground was so soft in certain areas that it was impossible to ride and at one stage Grant had to remove the panniers, leave them, carry his bike and then put the bike down and come and fetch the panniers as the bike was too heavy to carry fully loaded on such soft muddy terrain....load up again and ride and then come to the same soft muddy ground and repeat the exercise. Exhausting.
The plan was to ride to Trieste but Grant was too tired from the day before, and the events of today to go any further. The voice note recording for this day has been a challenge for me as there is so much mumbling and yawning that I could almost feel his exhaustion by listening to him.
The day started off in warm conditions riding on tarred side paths. Leaving Škofja Loca on a flattish path at 9 am in the direction of Ljubljana which was about 30 kilometres away. Cycling out of Ljubljana on a side path once more, Crazybikeguy took a forest track out into the countryside and into the mountains into Logatec.
Lots of people that were out and about shouted encouragement from cars ( lots of hooting) and side tracks and shouted out " Go South Africa!" when they saw the SA flag on the bike, which was wonderful to hear and Grant said he felt motivated by the fact that so many people were reaching out to him in this way.
Beautiful scenery and pristine conditions made the very steep climb in very warm conditions one to remember. In the 200 km of riding in Slovenia this far, Crazybikeguy was so impressed by the fact that he had only found three small pieces of plastic on the road. Slovenia is clean and the environment is kept pristine by the very conscientious and extremely proud Slovenians.
Climbing on loose muddy gravel tracks on a 15 degree steep climb up into the mountains was strenuous work. There wasn't a direct route to Trieste so Grant took the forest tracks to go in that direction, with tarred roads only becoming available to ride on much later in the day.
Coming across masses of colorfully painted boxed beehives on the sides of the paths in the mountains was a revelation. Thousands of bees buzzing around and birdsong chirping from the tress and bushes in this wonderful forested area.
Signs started coming up warning Grant - "You are entering a BEAR zone"- with arrows pointing to specially dedicated bear shelters where one could supposedly find solace from being chased by one....
The biggest animals he came across - no bears , thankfully, were charging donkeys and cows grazing in the fields and big buck roaming free in the forests.
Lots of snakes ( squashed on the paths, sadly) and birds all along the ride.
About 30 kms from Trieste Grant cycled into the very small country town of Štorje with its lone main road, one restaurant and it's boarding house where Grant decided to stay for the night. After a traditional Slovenian dinner ( he skipped the foal and other local delicacies on the menu) Crazybikeguy fell into his bed for some much anticipated shut eye.
Trieste could wait for another day. Downhill towards the coast.
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