180505-These Wheels Weren’t Made For Walking

Before leaving Trieste this morning, I walked up to the market to pick up food. That will become relevant later … I received a response from today’s intended hostel destination letting me know they were full, which would likely add another 20 km to my day.

I always have a hard time getting out of big cities. I cycled in heavy traffic for the first 12 km, the hostel being on one side of the city, with my destination the other. Most of the time I cycled in at least a cycle lane, and when not the drivers took great care to give me plenty of room.

I reached the turn from EV8 to EV9, and headed into the mountains. I started on lovely dedicated cycle lane alongside a river and rail lines, always a good indication of a slow steady grade. What I neglected to remember is how adverse the EuroVelo routes are to traffic. When the cycle path crossed the major road, it routed me back up into the mountains instead of along the river. The next couple of hours entailed a lot of walking, up steep grades, leaving me sore and exhausted.

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When I reached the apex, I stopped for rest and a lunch of my last cinnamon raisin bagel with ham from the market this morning, washed down with orange juice. And, of course, a banana.

When EV9 merged back with the main road, I abandoned EV9. Even so, it was a long day of steady climbing. At one of the points I was cycling (instead of walking) I spotted a group of cyclists ahead pulled off to rest. They were on their way to Trieste, and cautioned that everything ahead was up. Every time thereafter when I’d approach a pass the ever-present headwinds would increase to 30-40 kph. The wind combined with the grade would overwhelm me, and I’d be back to walking. I passed that no vacancies hostel at exactly the point I desperately wanted to stop.

I spent much of today trying to remember how hard cycle touring used to be. Now I can see all the hostels and campgrounds on my GPS. If I want to check on one I can call or send email. Cycle paths are highlighted on the GPS. I can find markets and ATMs. Most of Europe is now a single currency. I have no idea how I crossed Europe twice back in 1989.

The cyclists had recommended the Ć kocjan Caves 22 km away, and I determined that the caves were en route to my intended campground for the night. I stopped by, but the last available tour left the hour before. They suggested I return tomorrow at 10. They’re only 3 km from the campground (in the wrong direction) . I should be able to cycle there unloaded in the morning, return, pack up my gear, and head onwards. At the information booth there I also found information about nearby Prem Castle. I’ll route to it before tomorrow’s destination of the hostel in Postojna. That should be a short ride tomorrow, a good thing because I think the route to Prem will be, well, up.

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For now I’m camped at this little campground at the middle of nowhere, deep in a valley next to a river. The campground consists of a field and a bathhouse (with a great hot shower). I don’t have dinner with me. The local market is closed. The closest restaurant is 2.67 km as the crow flies, but closer to 10 km by road. Dinner consisted of a tuna sandwich and amaretto cookies.

The last event for the night was scrambling back down the hill to the field to pull my laundry off the line and dive in the tent when I heard the first drops of rain hit the roof of the shelter.

The climb out of the campground tomorrow morning will be on foot.

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