George Johnston: June 7th

I left Rijeka as planned and rode 134 km to Karlobag. A bit like the ride out of Porto, Portugal it started with a steep hard climb out of the city. Unfortunately it never flattened out very much. The road became less and less settled and it took a long time to get to a restaurant. I got a tuna salad which looked huge and a large ham and cheese sandwich. I ate all of the salad and half of the sandwich and saved the rest for later. My new cellphone’s GPS said there was a grocery a few kilometers ahead and I was out of water, so I was looking forward to it.  I passed by and saw nothing open. There were several camp grounds along the road, so I stopped at one that had a restaurant and bought a liter of water for about $4. A couple of kilometers after that I found a Tommy Market, in a chain of smaller stores, but not listed on the GPS.  That must have been at least a year out of date. It had a good selection of food and beverages. I got a liter and a half of the same water for about $1 and a couple of bananas. 

There was a parallel freeway which always seemed to have better grades.  I continued riding and climbing to higher and higher elevations,  always thinking that the top would be around the next bend, but around each bend a new ridge appeared. This started at 174 meters, again at 203, 264, and a tunnel came into sight. I thought of the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania where I climbed from 500 m to 2000 m with a tunnel at the top.This road though, continued to climb to 284 and 354 before finally topping out. It continued to rise and fall slowing my progress. I had reserved an apartment in Karlobag and had estimate an arrival between eight and ten, but that wasn’t happening I called at 9:00 to revise my estimate, but was hoping a long steady decline would hasten my arrival.  The road only declined moderately still rolling until about 10 km from the city. By then it was dark and so I had to keep my speed down and finally got in at 11:00 after 134 km. The hostess welcomed me into the nice apartment with a bedroom, bath, and a living room kitchen combination and a dining table on the terrace with a sea view.  I warmed up my leftover sandwich for supper, drank a lot of water, and took a potassium tablet to try to prevent cramps, and had only one mild session during the night.  If you don’t stay hydrated during the day, they seem inevitable.

The next day was much better.  The hostess brought me a breakfast with scrambled eggs. I relaxed and took my time preparing to leave as I had only 95 km to go, and I got away around 11:00 Karlobag was a small town and I just passed by on the outskirts. Later I came into the municipality of Starigrad, which looked like civilization again. I saw my first two sailboats underway on the trip.   There was a nice harbor area, several tennis court with matches in progress, bike paths, and an ample selection of restaurants and shops. It spread over the biggest relatively flat area I’d seen since entering Croatia. The road stayed lower and flatter along the Adriatic cost and the riding was much easier. There were large quantities of apartments and rooms for rent, but not too much else.  I had a spaghetti dinner with a cabbage salad. I picked the cabbage as my hostess at the apartment had been telling me about cabbage applied to knees and elbows easing joint pain.  It’s also the cheapest and the prices in the area were rather steep like the water the day before.  

After running south-east all day the arm of the sea ended with a peninsula extending north-west from Zadar. I saw a strange array of buoys. There were hundreds of them. I thought they could be a rowing course but there weren’t any facilities. Finally I came to a sign that said mussels for sale, so that answered it; they were traps of some sort. From there there was one more big climb to cross the ridge where the freeway ran for once my road went under a freeway instead of climbing over it.  The road stayed fairly level until the outskirts of Zadar and then declined into the city with sidewalks/bike paths on the roadside. I had time to stop at a supermarket that was open to 10:00 when most closed at 9:00 to get supplies. The hostel was just a couple of kilometers away conveniently between the shopping area and the old city. I go a bed in a nice dorm with eight beds for 10 euros a  night. There is a moderate size kitchen which is the only common area, but hasn’t been crowded.  The city looked interesting so I decided to take a rest day here.  I did laundry this morning and the toured the old city.  It is similar to Split and Dubrovnik in atmosphere with marble paved streets, but much smaller.

Tomorrow I’ll be back on the road to Sibenik or a bit farther. It’s 140 km to Split, so I don’t want to try that in day, but it’s probably an easier ride than the recent one.  The rest remains to be determined. 

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