Tour05 Day 17

Good riding on the Croation coast

Today was the best riding day I've had since Macedonia, and maybe the best riding day of this tour. I rode about 100 miles, mostly along the coast of Croatia, and ended up about 40 km short of where I expected to be after 100 miles of riding. This is kind of frustrating, but not really that hard to understand.

There is an autoroute , A-1, from Split to Zagreb. It is a pretty straight shot from Split to about 10 km west of Zadar. I rode up the coast road E-8 from Split towards Zadar, thinking that the signs on that route show distances on that route. They don't. They show the shortest distance to Zadar, which is via the autoroute until you get near to where I am tonight.

Cement trucks leaving Split
I saw a lot of them today
There is a lot of construction going on on this coast

Traffic where the expressway narrowed to two lanes
It was not as bad as it looks since traffic, when it was heavy, was also slow

As I left Split this morning - after riding for more than half an hour just to get to the road that goes along the coast - Split is on a peninsula sticking out into the Adriatic and I started from near the tip - I saw a sign that said Zadar, 158 km. I thought, "OK, if there isn't too much climbing and/or wind, I can do 100 more miles today." and I got on down the road.

A view of a large and beautiful bay north of Trogir

The road in hills with neat stone walls
They seem to have built the walls to clear the land which was covered with stones

An island town, connected to the mainland by a beach

The ride, after I finally got out of heavy traffic maybe 20 km from Split, was great. The hills weren't bad and the wind, although always present from the west, cooled me down nore than it slowed me down. Roughly four, very enjoyable, riding hours later, marred only by a 16 km stretch of construction ;-), I reached Sibenik. The sign leaving town said Zadar, 75 km. I thought, "I can get there before dark and I have time to stop for supper 20 or 30 km from Zadar."

Waiting in the construction area
This happen several times, and a few of the drivers,
acted like real jerks when they were stuck behind that slow truck

The new road north of the construction, Nice!

75 km to Zadar, but 120 via E-8

The riding after Sibenik was harder - more hills, more wind, and not nearly as pretty as the ride before Zadar, but it was still good riding. I had a fellow in Dubrovnik tell me he had drive down the coast and that stretch wasn't worth riding because it was boring. Well, boring in a car doesn't mean boring on a bicycle. It was interesting country, just not spectacularly pretty like the stretch between Split and Sibenik.

Yesterday on the ferry, Amy, the backpacker, couldn't believe that I got up almost every morning looking forward to riding. I do. Even hard riding through less than spectacularly beautiful country is, as folks say about fishing, better that a good day of doing just about anything else. Certainly it is better than riding a ferry, even the ferry from Dubrovnik to Split!

Boats on a river between Sibenik and Vodice

Looking back on as steep as it got today
this grade, near the end of my ride, was marked 5%

75 km later, I stopped in Biograd, for supper, still 45 km from Zadar. That was when I realized that I had been going by autoroute distances, but riding, much longer, E-8 distances. It was 6 PM, I needed a real meal, and I couldn't make another 45 km before dark if I stopped for the meal. Besides, I had ridden about 100 miles of moderately hilly, moderately windy road and I was tired. If I had to, I could keep riding for another several hours., but that really would be pushing my limits, and it wouldn't be much fun. Since I didn't have to make it to Zadar today, I stopped for the night in Biograd.

I'm at the hotel, The Bolero, in the center of Biograd. Biograd isn't a big place, but this hotel is quite large. I think I'm the only resident of the wing I'm in, but there is a fairly large group of folks - they seem to be, scuba, I assume, diving. The hotel restaurant, where I ate supper - a menu in the French way of doing things, and pretty good. It was as good as any meal I've had in Croatia. I had two choices for the main course. which must be what they the divers had. There were 40 or 50 setting in place in the dining room, but the restaurant could seat at least 200 or 300 people. It is peaceful here now, but it must be a zoo in high season!

The water along this coast, like the water I saw yesterday out in the island, is almost unbelievably clear. I seemed like I could look 50 feet down and watch small fish swimming in schools. It would be great fun to scuba dive here!

A marina full of sailing boats

The other sport that was much in evidence today was sailing. Apparently, this is a world class place to sail. I guess that nice wind that cooled (and slowed) me down today, the incredible clear and beautifully water, and all those neat little islands that litter this coast, make for great sailing. I certainly saw a large number of very nice sailing boats, most with two masts, on the water and in harbors today. That reminds me of something I forgot to put in yesterday's report: Near Split, I saw a VERY nice yacht. It had a helipad, complete with helicopter, on the back deck. Some people really do have too much money!

The sail boats I saw today were not in that class, nor does it require that kind of money to have a house and a nice boat in harbor along this part of the coast. I bet that is the dream of a lot of people with nice, but not ocean going, sail boats. On that topic, I met a couple of retired Brits in Istandbul who cruise the world in their sailboat. Nice folks, and a nice way to live.

As I write this report, I'm listening to a lively meeting of the divers, perhaps 50 feet from my window. There are two things interesting about that meeting. The first is that I can understand what is going on since it is in English. From what I hear, very few, if any, of the divers have English as their first language, but it the common language of the group. The second thing is that the leader, a woman from Eastern Europe, is very skilled at working with diverse groups of people, but I wouldn't want to be in a group like that one. It isn't my nature to do group things under direction of a leader. I want to do my thing on my own, and, of course, solo bicycle touring is the perfect thing for somebody like me to do!

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