Primoz, most of the way up the second pass
with the top of the first pass in the background
The stated reason for climbing those passes was to get to a beautiful, dead end, valley in Slovenia, Logarska dolina. So after climbing and descend twice, we climbed and descended again in that valley. Unfortunately, when we were one km from the end of the valley, we turned back because of the threat of rain. We rode in light rain back down that valley and on to the town of Solcava where I found a room for the night.
We left Skofja Loka about 9 AM, after saying goodbye to Primoz's parents and Sonu, their other house guest. At least in the case of Primoz's parents, it was more of a see you later than a goodbye. I hope to see Sonu again - she is a very nice, and interesting, young Hindu woman - but I expect to see Primoz and his family many more times, hopefully both in the US and in Slovenia.
Primoz and I rode mostly small roads past Kranj towards Bad Vellach. We stopped at the last service station before the 20 km long river gorge that becomes the pass for snacks and again at a restaurant, before the final 5 km of the climb, for lunch. The riding was great and lunch, overlooking a small lake with mountains as a backdrop, was very pleasant.
The ride to the first pass is a 'classic' in Slovenia. We passed many riders coming back down and were passed by a few going up. Since I am so slow - we were climbing at about half the speed Primoze would climb that grade unloaded - we didn't pass anyone on the way up ;-(. At the restaurant, most of the customers came by bicycle. The scenery is awesome, and the weather was great.
The Austrian border, at the top of the first pass, was no big deal. In a few years there will be no border station between Slovenia and Austria since both will be within the EU. Now there is a single person at the station to check identity paper.
After a fast descent into Austria - the highlight of which was getting water from a clever spring feed by the road that appeared to be set up for cyclists - we turned east and started the second climb.
This pass - Paulicevo - was serious climbing, with flies ;-). 12% grades push the limits of my climbing ability loaded, and even lightly loaded - my bike weight was around 45 pounds - getting up that long hill was hard work.
We stopped three times on the way up to rest briefly and drink the excellent spring water we had picked up on the way down into Austria. Each time we started up again, it felt like the road was too steep to climb, but, within a few minutes, my body was doing its thing and climbing was, if not easy, at least doable. The lack of traffic made it easier since I didn't have to worry about where my bike was on the road.
As we rode, flies joined us so that sometimes it felt we were each riding in a swarm of flies. When we stopped, the flies mostly left us alone, but when we climbing, I had dozen of flies clustered around the front of my bike. They were annoying, but didn't bite and didn't fly in my face, so I just gave them a free ride up to the pass.
Riding up the second pass, we saw only some road maintenance workers and a few cars. It was very peaceful, except for the sound of my heavy breathing and the buzzing of the flies ;-). The scenery was even more spectacular then the first pass. At the top of this climb, there was another, more fanciful, place to refill our water bottles.
The border station going back into Slovenia was as exciting at the station going into Austria ;-), but the ride down was longer and, at 12%, required a lot of braking for the hairpins. Nice!
Not long after getting down, we came to the entrance to Logarska Dolina and, after Primoz made sure I really wanted to ride it, we headed down it. Down shortly became up and up kept getting steeper till we were climbing a 7 to 8% grade. After that had gone on for quite a while, the sky was getting dark ahead and we were hearing thunder. The road had been rained on earlier in the day and things looked ready for a repeat. We talked with some backpackers who were coming down and they told us that we had a km to go to the end of the road and then 10 to 15 minute walk to the waterfall that was Primoz's objective. we turned back and, even going 30+ mph down the hill, were riding in light rain five minutes later. The rain never got heavy, so it was no big deal, but it was enough to stop us from riding beyond the next town.