I’m at a place with terrible reception, so pictures will be added later.
Well, Slovenia was a short lived adventure! I entered the country early in the morning and around lunch time I was already out. That’s good news for progress, but it’s sad I didn’t get to see more than just the route 7 (I think it was) and the quite severe gusts of wind. So in that respect I wasn’t too upset I got to leave soon, the wind was sometimes so strong even downhill I had to pedal strongly to maintain 20km/h. It felt like the wind would blow me ride back up the hill if I didn’t keep pedaling.
Those wind gusts are apparently called Bura and it seems to be crazy this year. Many other riders ahead of me (i.e. nearly everyone) have had many troubles with it, but I secretly hoped it would have died down by now. The Bura in Croatia wasn’t be neccesarily less, but from the border almost all the way to Rejika is a nice downhill. So asides from holding on tight when a really firm wind gust would come by, they didn’t bother too much.
From Rejika my route was going a little more inland. I had contemplated to just stay on route 8 before, but now with the wind so strong, I was hoping it would be less noticeable on the back roads. At first that choice didn’t seem to pay off at all, there were still moments the wind almost pushed me off the bike, but a little further down the road it really did seem to make a difference. Also, the traffic wasn’t too bad and it was really nice to pass all those small villages, most of which had a beautiful sea view.
I’d have to say that my main problem today was reasoning with the inner voice that feels like sitting by the pool with a cocktail. It talks to me at least once a day on a moment when progress is slow, or I’m tired or something else like that. For some unclear reason it was a bit stronger today.
‘All those whose have scratched, have taken a shower by now, started a book, are wearing clean clothes everyday, get to do nothing’.
‘Yes, but all those scratchers would love to trade places with me and continue to race. We actually like doing this’.
‘Sure we like this, but we also like washed hair, sitting and drinking on a terrace with friends, sleeping in our own bed. And besides, you’re halfway, you’ve had 6 countries and 3 checkpoints, that’s already quite impressive.’
‘Yes, I know, but I want more! I’m feeling really well physically, I want to see Bosnia, I want to see Montenegro and all the other countries. And I want you to shut up!’
I don’t have any actual intentions to quit, nor any doubt that I can finish this (there’s doubt I can do this in the time I set for myself, but that’s something else). But today it cost me a bit more energy to shut the voice up. Luckily I know I have now built a small army of fans, all of whom would push me to keep going, so I’ll always have that as a backup if the voice grows too strong.
The other problem I had, with riding through the backlands of Croatia specifically, is knowing when to stop for the night. There are plenty of villages I passed through, but many of them are too small to be able to find rooms for rent. And in between them it can sometimes be quite remote for some time. On your Garmin you can’t always tell if a town is big enough that there might be something available. Sure, I have my bivvy bag as an ultimate last resort, but I actually don’t really want to use it. Also, I’m not very comfortable to be riding in the dark in places where it can be remote. So when I passed a house advertising available rooms at 630pm, I was a bit in doubt what to do. It felt way too early to call it quits for the day. The next town was 12km away, so even if the road would be going uphill, it was definitely easily doable in daylight. It’s not like I was still in the Alps. Now it was just hoping I would be able to find something.
In the end I actually got there pretty quickly. But the town was really small, so I wondered if I could find a room. There was the doubt again, maybe I should continue one village further? I decided I should at least ask if there’s a room available, if not, the choice would have been made for me and I’d continue. I saw a man on his balcony, so I asked if he knew anything. He started to laugh and said ‘you’re the second! Do you want to have a look?’ When he said that, I thought he meant to come look on the Internet to see if we could find something. But what he actually meant was that he rented a room in his house! Well, that went easy. When he came down, he told me about another girl a couple of days ago, who also needed a place to stay. She was from England and was going to cycle to Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and after four hours she was gone again. Apparently it just so happened that I stumbled upon the same house as the infamous Emily Chappell, the undisputed winner of the TCR women’s competition. If Emily ever happens to read my humble little blog, the couple sends you their well wishes, they think you’re a very very nice girl. In fact, he said I don’t like English people very much, but Emily is really nice. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is.
So although it was still a bit too early, I couldn’t do anything but accept this room, which already bears some TCR history. The couple then invited me for dinner and I had a wonderful night with them. The ultimate way to shut up the little voice is to have a great time and that’s exactly what I’ll do.