Dubrovnik to Ploce 102km
To Makarska 54km
To Split 64km
You wouldn't credit it, but sometimes the road along the Croatian coast is not very interesting, so I mix it up. Whenever I can, I head down to the coastline, and follow the minor, minor roads and tracks. There's no traffic, and often there are no people. The whole of the coast is closed, resturants, hotels, guesthouses, shops, shut up for the winter. The only people I see are Tradies doing maintenance work.
Often there is a path right beside the sea. Sometimes it's like a "Prominade", with closed bars, fast food and icecream stalls, and canoe rental outlets. It's pretty special having it all to myself. Of course, it's really nice when the sun is shining, but even when it's raining, hailing, and almost snowing, it's nicer than the highway. Two things to be weary of however. The route back up to the highway, when the path runs out, is often a real grunt..... Grannie gear minus three. I've had to push up a couple of very steep climbs. The other thing is to ask locals about the "black dashed" trails on the map..... and listen to their advice. Sometimes these trails can be four wheel drive tracks. Sometimes they can be lovely single tracks, or sometimes they can be like today.....
"Hello ladies. Can I cycle along this trail?" "Yes, but not far. It turns to gravel."
"Then it gets very narrow, and steep."
"Could you Mtb on this trail?"
"No problem then." A stupid, macho, BS reply. For 50% of the trail you could ride a Mtb, if you were as strong and skillful as World Champion Anton Cooper. The rest, even for Anton, was a nightmare. Anyone who would even contemplate riding a fully loaded cycle touring bike, pulling a trailer, needs their head read. Let's just say it was an adventure, and blood was shed. I walked most of the trail twice, once with Fiona, and once with the trailer. Other parts I walked three times, carrying the panniers on the third trip. At one stage, when I was unlinking the trailer, Fiona let me know she was sick of it, and tried to jump off the trail. I managed to grab her back wheel. Picture standing on a very narrow, loose and rocky trail, 100m directly above a beautiful blue Adriatic Sea, with Fiona hanging from her back wheel in one hand, and the trailer trying to join her in the other hand. I had to laugh........
So even though it's fun being off the main road.... it has its moments. But mostly, it feels like being on holiday. I'm having fun, I'm smiling lots, and I'm being challenged.
Farbod, an Iranian American, and Antej, a Bosnian American were being challenged as well. I met Antej on a bridge. "Hi. Where you from? Where you going? You don't have a spare chain do you?" "Nope. But I can fix a chain." A look of delight. He doesn't have to cycle 30km to the closest bike shop. Farbod is on a rental bike. They've cycled from Bosnia to stay in Antej's father's RV. Just an over nighter really. They've got very little gear, and no tools, and a pump that doesn't work.....and the broken chain is very dirty. "Okay. I'm not touching that horrible gunky mess. Here's the tools and a link. This is what you have to do." Two very happy American boys shout me dinner in a restaurant. And it's got beds available. The lads head off to their RV, and I head upstairs, my good deed done, and an invite to stay with them in Washington DC when I get there.