These folks are playing cricket near Skofja Loka, something I did not expect in Slovenia!

The western part of Slovenia surprised me for two reasons: one was bad smog, the other was good English. I expected, and found great scenery - and it will be even greater tomorrow - but I didn't think about smog problems from the industrialization that occurred while Slovenia was part of the late Yugoslavia or that English would be taught as the second language in the schools. The smog is a pain, literally, it made my throat sore today as I rode into the industrialized part of the country. It also ruined a lot of nice views, just as it does in North Carolina every summer. The availability of English language skills, meant that, for the first time on this tour, I could actually talk to people. That experience was greatly enhanced by Primoz, a fellow tourist who invited me to stay at his home in Skojfa Loca. Primoz is finishing his degree in Electrical Engineering. His parents, who are only a few years older than I am, along with Primoz, made my visit very wonderful. One of the best parts of touring is getting to know such good people and learning from them.

I started out from Prenocisca (it is a village 2.5 miles north of Tepanje, that is not known by my mapping software) after a good, German style breakfast, prepared for me at 7:15 AM on a Sunday morning. The folks at the gostilna where I stayed last light were very good to me and, after getting up that 18% grade to their village <grin>, I needed nice folks to take care of me.

What I didn't expect, flat land!

Followed by a good kilometer or two of climbing

When I left the gostilna, I was expecting more of those horribly steep hills. Instead, after a nice, 15% grade, downhill, I found myself in a big, flat, valley. Oh what a relief that was! For half an hour and about 7.5 miles, I spun along at 13 to 16 mph, clearing those fatigue poisons our of my legs. Then a climb of about 150 meters vertical, marked as 10% grade, brought fatigue back to my legs. Actually, the peak grade may have been 10%, but I think the average was around 6 or 7%. The biggest problem with that climb wasn't my legs, it was that, even early in the day, it was already warm and my body got quite hot during the climb. Before noon, the temperature was in the 30s (C) which is quite warm for these parts.

The descent was a bit bumpy, and the image is blurry as a result,
but it was a superb ride for the next five miles

I have a few truly memorably descents from my years of touring. This one gets added to the list. I was simply a great five mile descent through really nice country. During this descent, I started thinking about retiring to Slovenia. It was that great.

The great descent was followed by some pretty good riding that got me to Celja where I turned west on Highway 10, heading towards Ljubljana. The road basically parallels an Autoroute, and large trucks were not allowed on it. Traffic was light and riding was good. I stopped in Levec for a snack and continued west. Life was good. Then 10 crossed over the Autoroute and life was not so good anymore. The Autoroute is under construction between Trovana and Trojane were it and highway 10, climb over a 250 meter high hill. All of the traffic that had been on the Autoroute was now on 10 with me. I was very glad it was a Sunday!

The autoroute running above Highway 10

This new section of autoroute is an engineering marvel and a big pork barrel for the construction company. It is being built above the valleys and supended off the side of the hills. Wow, but also, how many years and what percentage of the GNP are going into this project?

The end of the almost completed section just south of Trojane

Riding wasn't nearly as pleasant for rest of my time on Highway 10, but it wasn't terrible either. It was a good climb up to Trojane, with way too much traffic, but very few bad drivers. I stopped for another snack and to rest near the top of the climb. This climb was high enough that it made a noticeable difference in the temperature. It was quite pleasant sitting in the shade near the top. After Trojane, which seems to be a big tourist place, the view back down the valley was nice. It would have been nicer without the haze. Note that this was looking away from Ljubljana, so it was looking away from the worst smog.

After that climb, there was another wonderful descent. It wasn't as pretty as the earlier descent, I had to deal with traffic, but it went on for a long, long time. In Luckovica, after the bottom of the hill, I stopped to check my routing and start to make sure I knew how the get to Skojfa Loca. It turned out to be a bit more complicated than I expected. I ended up stopping for lunch at the McDonalds (!) in Domzale and getting routing advice from a fellow eating there. It was about 30 km from there to Skojfa Loca, with some strange things - like a Cricket Game - and some good hills along the way. The area is obviously a popular tourist area, with lots of tourism related businesses. Skojfa Loca is the second oldest city in Slovenia, with a neat castle and a lively - although not on Sunday night - old city area.

What Skojfa Loka lacks is street signs, so, although I was just blocks from Primoz's house and had a good map that he had sent me, I could not locate the house. I started asking folks for help. Instead of the usual communications problems, the folks I pick at random, spoke English pretty well. The first couple I picked were English, so they didn't know Skojfa Loca. So I tried a young man instead. He was in the process of helping me find the house when Primoz showed up to guide me! Primoz's brother had spotted me - there are few loaded bikes here - and told Primoz. We quick rode to his house and I met his parents and brother. Then, with a beer to help my thirst, we talked for several hours before I got around to taking a shower, getting ready for supper, and checking my email. A good visit was had by all.

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