I took this image out the window of my hotel room!
This morning I had breakfast with Primoz, we talked touring a bit, and then he had to go to work. I needed to go to a bank in order to see what the situation was with my ATM card and get some money with my Visa card. Primoze's parents walked with me, to two banks - it isn't a good scene for ATM cards or Visa here, bring Euros - and then we had coffee and went to grocery store to get some supplies for my riding. It was a very pleasant visit and they were most helpful and most gracious in dealing with their son's guest. I feel very fortunate to have these new friends in Slovenia.
I wasn't concerned about leaving early today since I only had 80 km to ride. Primoz and I decided that it would make sense just to ride to Kranjska Gora today and tackle the pass, Vrzc, early tomorrow with relative fresh legs and relatively cool temperatures. This is only an 800 m climb - the biggest climb on this tour so far was half that - and it is a steep climb for 10 km. It is not an easy pass to climb on a loaded bike.
Primoz suggested a route for me, although following his suggestion was complicated somewhat by the fact that my mapping software had both errors and ommissions in the roads I needed to use. I did manage to get here, and to ride the lovely road to Radovna, but my route to Bled was not what Primoz and I had planned, and was quite challenging both in terms of finding my way and in terms of steep climbs. It took a great, and challenging, several hours of riding to get there. The views along the way were incredible. This area is so stunningly beautiful, it is hard to belive. The images on my web page can't do it justice, but be sure to look at them to get a little taste of how spectacular the real thing is.
Entering Kranj, north and a bit east of Skofja Loka
North of Kranj, I started on normal roads
And ended up on roads that were one lane wide
In order to avoid riding on that, the Autoroute
Getting to Bled was hard. I ended up doing some very hard climbing and I didn't know where the the roads I was riding would take me, so I had the possiblity of having to go back and ride up all the downhills and down all the uphills. Despite that, it was mostly great riding. Beautiful, peaceful, hard riding.
Bled is neat. It is also overpopulated with tourists. I enjoyed seeing the lake and the castle - incredible, really - and I had a good lunch at a chinese restaurant which offered a menu in four languages and great people watching. Then I got to ride west into Triglav. It was a bit of a climb, two hundred meters in five miles or so, but once I got away from the action in Bled, it was peaceful and pretty and there were these stunning mountains ahead of me....
Looking back towards Bled from near Triglav park
The road to Rodavna heads up a steep sided mountain valley
It is initially paved
But become a very nice dirt road within a few miles.
With farm land, hay racks, occasional buildings, and monuments.
This is the remains of a farmhouse where 35 local farmers were
locked in and burned to death by the Nazi's as retribution for
partisan resistance in WWII
Traditional Slovenian hay drying rack
The road is often well shaded
The beauty of the valley was matched by its peacefulness. Getting into Bled, I was being passed by cars and trucks almost continuously, riding towards Rodava, I'd be passed by a car every ten or fifteen minutes. Just an incredible ride. Some climbing - it is going up a river valley - lots of riding near the river. Often in a tunnel of trees where the temperature, on this hot day, was about 70 F.
The mountain valley just north of the fork
Oh dear, here we go again!
Then the road climbs out of the valley, at an 18% grade. It only climbs steeply for 100 m or so of vertical, then gentles and crests before heading down, steeply, towards Mojstrana. The climb and the first part of the descent are paved, probably because they are so steep. I was coastiing down at over 40 mph when I saw a caution sign. Of course I couldn't read it, but it didn't take long to find out that it said "Pavement ends." 45 miles an hour on a steep dirt road! It was quite a descent - and would be a hard climb in the other direction.
Looking down into the valley north of the park
Highway 1 is OK for bicycling here
Heading south towards Kranjska Gora
Heading into the center of Kranjska Gora
The ride today, when I wasn't fighting traffic, was one of the nicest rides I have ever done. Tomorrow, going over Vrsic, should be even more spectacular.