Day 36: Donja Stubica to Durdevac, Croatia

Marija Bistricaa, the town that caused me to ride an extra ten miles and climb an extra 500 meters

It was another Croatia day. That is both good - much of the riding was very nice, the countryside was beautiful and the people were great - and bad - the road I planned to use wasn't where the maps said it was and the locals sent me out of the way and over the 'mountain' north of Zagreb. That climb was 400 meters or so at 15% grade. It was the hardest climb I've ever done on my loaded bike. I walked a bit of , cursed most of it, and made it over the top by simple determination to do so. It wasn't fun. Then I got down to just east of Zagreb, and made my way back around the end the end of that mountain in order to go east. It isn't easy to go east in Croatia!

The roads between Donja Stubica and Marija Bistricaa were very nice

The view from a 'church hill' on the way to Marija Bistricaa

In Marija Bistrica, trying to continue east

The ride to Marija Bistricaa was great. It was ten miles of country roads through very pretty country.

Then I tried to find the road that both my mapping software and a map I bought on the way to Marija Bistrica showed heading east from Marija Bistrica. I couldn't find it, and the locals, when I showed them the map said 'go thataway.' I did and I ended up going south towards Zageb. I didn't want to go south! When I got to a road going east, I stopped to look at my map and a guy working on a house called me over. He was very helpful, as was his assistant, and both of them insisted I should go to Komin, which is east, by taking this road down through Moravce, not by going back and going north from Marija Bistrica. This insisting was done in Croatian, although the younger man did know a few words of English. They were very nice, but I think they were sadists < grin >! Who else would route someone on a loaded bike on a road that climbed over a small mountain very steeply?

I knew I was in trouble when I saw this grade
Then it got steeper

Heading down the other side - at long last!

The 15% grade sign going down, it was at least that steep coming up

After the really hard climb , I got nice long, steep, downhill through neat towns. The folks look at me a though the had never seen a fellow on a loaded bike. Given the hill, I'm not surprised! Anyway, the ride down was fun and eventually it took me to a town on 12 whose name isn't on my mapping software. Since most of the road isn't there either, I shouldn't be surprised. I stopped for lunch in the next town, discovering in the process that almost all of those places to eat and drink are drink only, and worked on routing from my unplanned location to Hungary. It wasn't easy to find routes, and the ones I did find involved as much north south travel as east travel.

12 was mostly small towns

This is road whose other end I could not find

Billboard and traffic on 12

Then I rode 12, which was narrow, busy, with no shoulder, and lots of trucks and busses, until I found a road to Vrbovec. I was on it for less than ten miles and, when I spotted a sign for a back road to Vrbovec, I got back to the peaceful little roads. The next ten to fifteen miles was great riding, except when, for the first half a dozen miles, large trucks were using the little road. It was about a lane and a half and they were about a lane and a quarter wide, so it was bit of a squeeze when we passed each other. After that section, it was just pleasant, although indirect, riding. Nice.

The road to Vrbovec, with truck

The road without a truck

At Vrbovec, I took the road that, on my map, should have been 41. Later I discovered that I was on 28. Hmm, a different route, but not much difference in length and it was, mostly, a pretty good road. It did have far more hills than I expected and, sometimes, the traffic was a bit of a pain, but it was generally good riding through pretty country. I had been told, by Danish tourists that Primoz and I met near Novo Mesto, that Croatian drivers were bad. They aren't. They may be bad compared to Danish drivers, but they are pretty much the same as Italian drivers. That isn't ideal, but it is a lot better than most drivers in the US.

In the last village before Durdevac, I stopped at a restaurant to ask if they would take Euros. I'd spent the last of my Kroners for a snack while riding on 28. They wouldn't, but, as I was getting ready to leave, a customer called out to me and asked about my tour. Then he invited me to sit, have a cup of coffee, and talk about internet related things. He runs two weblogs and we talked, for a long time, about the web, Linux, etc. It was enjoyable, but it also made me quite late getting into Durdevac. The sun was setting as I arrived, and I hadn't had supper or worked on this web page so I ended up staying up till nearly midnight. The sun came up at 6, shining directly into my room.

My new friend, giving me his address before I leave the cafe

Coming into Durdevac

Speaking of rooms, this one, at the hotel in Durdevac, is OK, and supper here last night was pretty good, but the mattress is like a box spring and breakfast was not great. Hotels are not cheap here, and they aren't very good either. I beginning to wonder how I'll do in Romania.
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