April 27 – Rovinj to Camp Umag
We packed up and said goodbye to Grandma Ada who sent us off with a “Bravo” and down the street we went, straight into a wrong turn. Back we go and we’re on track. We had a nice bit of downhill to start the day and on a path too, before we started a long climb up again, on a highway. At the top, we turned off onto a quieter road and followed our route, only to find that the road we were supposed to be on, was in the process of being dug up. Not going that way then. A look at the map and we found we could go up a different street and we’d be back on course. So…up a short steep hill we go, turn the corner, down a hill and find… we’re right back where we started. We had indeed gone in a complete circle! [Insert roll of the eyes and shake of the head here!] Back up that hill again, for a second time, take a different turn and we’re on track.
We headed along another road, with some more roadworks around us and I noticed a sign. “Stop! Wait!” I called out to Steve and pointed to the dead-end sign I’d seen. OK, not going that way either then. Turn around, back we go and we’re back on the highway. Up we go again, climbing, climbing, with more traffic around us.
On we went and came to a mega downhill, a long, winding 7% descent. Steve was off…gone…disappeared and as I pumped the brakes all the way down, I didn’t see hide nor hair of him until I reached the bottom. Immediately at the bottom was a sign for a 6% climb back up. Oh well, here we go again. Up, up, up another long, winding busy road, with traffic coming a little too close for comfort at times. Near the top we had a view down to the river which gave us a nice reward and then on we went with some more up, up, up.
Thankfully we were eventually able to turn off onto a quiet road and this gave us the best ride of the day. It didn’t last very long, but we were on country roads, passing other cyclists, both road and touring, and we pedalled through olive groves and farmland. I passed a lovely elderly woman, dressed all in black, with her hair tied back and looking like she had worked hard on the farm her whole life. We exchanged greetings and I pedalled on with acres and acres of olive trees all around.
We found a small park and stopped for elevenses. Before long we were joined by a very friendly local who sat with us and gave us the stare that said “Anything to share?”
“Sorry, I don’t have any dog friendly food and no doggy treats.”
Our companion wasn’t happy with that and continued the stare with a little vocal pleading thrown in with a “roooorrroooorrooo”.
“Sorry mate,” I said again, “all we have to offer you is our sparkling company.”
With that, our friendly doggy elevenses guest rolled on his back and scratched and rolled and flung his legs in the air and smiled and then wandered back over for a pat and I was happy to oblige.
Elevenses over, we said goodbye to our chum and set off on what became the un-fun part of the day. We ended up on a really busy road, like a highway, with faster traffic speeds and lots more of it. The trucks were coming really close and the vortex from each one was making me swerve and I had to grab the brakes each time to stop myself running off the edge of the road or into traffic. We were still climbing hills and then we got a deep, concrete drain running along the side of the road with no shoulder, so one wrong move and we would be sent falling into that concrete ditch. Steve suddenly stopped in front of me on a hill.
“Can we stop somewhere that’s not beside the ditch?” I asked.
“I’m going over there,” he said, pointing to the grass bank on the other side of the road.
“I can’t lift the bike over the ditch though!” I said.
“I can!” he replied, already half way across the road. He heaved his bike over the ditch, dropped it on the ground and waited.
With a break in the traffic I sprinted across the highway, Steve grabbed my bike and hauled it over the ditch, me leaping behind and we were at last out of the traffic and away from the accident waiting to happen with that deep concrete drain.We ploughed on, pedalling hard through the soft dirt and grass along the bank but at least we were out of the traffic.
We eventually had to get back onto the road, but at a place where the ditch had stopped, so it felt a little bit safer and then eventually we got a quieter road. It was a really hairy ride on that busy road, it did’t feel safe at all. We rode down a hill into Novigrad and saw the sea for the first time today and that was a lovely sight. We’d planned to stop in Novigrad but decided it was early enough to push on, so after a quick bite to eat, we were back to climbing a hill out of Novigrad and a 10% climb at that.
We found our way to a campsite that was open, ‘Camping Park Umag’ and booked in. The place is absolutely HUGE, it goes on forever. It’s one of those resort type campsites with tennis courts and swimming pools and “activities”, the sort of place we’d usually run a mile from, but needs must. The only problem was the weather bureau had issued warnings for thunder storms and heavy rain, so we thought it best not to subject the tent to that and stay in solid walls, so we’re in a cabin. The spot is nice though, right beside the sea. The place is so huge, there are two supermarkets on the actual camp ground so we went off to gather supplies, then I went out for a quick run. Only a short one because the path kept running out and after today’s climbing on the bike, my legs were starting to tell me they were ready for a little rest. It was a nice spot to run though, right beside the Adriatic.
We’ll wait and assess the weather in the morning before deciding what to do. If there’s a break in the rain we might move on, or we might sit it out. Not sure yet. Steve’s knee has also been giving him a bit of jip since the crash and has been niggling him on the bike a bit, so he might like a rest day. Tonight though, we’re almost campers again, but not quite. We’re in a campsite but the Nylon Palace is still under wraps. We hope to be under its little roof again soon.
I asked Steve what he remembered about today and he had one answer. “Busy roads.” We didn’t have much opportunity for photos because it was just head down and concentrate in the traffic and we didn’t pass through any little sleepy towns, it was just hard yakka on the highway. Steve’s other comment of the day was, “There are a lot of hills in Croatia.” Yes, yes there are and we’ve been riding them! So tomorrow we’ll continue to wing it, day by day and make a decision about our plans when dawn breaks.
We did have busy roads and hills today but we also had Grandma Ada’s cheery encouragement, we had a friendly four-legged visitor who made us smile and we had some nice scenery for a little while. Each day throws up something new and sometimes they’re challenges and sometimes they’re gems. Part of the adventure is not knowing what a day will bring. Tomorrow? We’ll just have to wait and see. Stay tuned.
Distance ridden: 56.7 km
Time in the saddle: 4 hours 18 minutes
Distance run: 5km
Wrong turns: 3
Repeat hill climbs ridden unnecessarily: 1
Friendly four-legged locals met: 1
Weather: sunny, warm, humid, a bit of wind…no rain!