When me and G started to plan summer holidays, we were sure we want to do a bike touring holidays, what we didn’t know was what would be the destination. First idea was to cycle the lenght of Norway and pay a visit to one of G’s friend, but since this would have been our first common bike tour it seemed a bit of a hustle with all the traveling and trasportations. We came to an agreement to do a tour around my home country Slovenia, since our travel there is always conected with family visits, andwe never spend much time exploring around the country. After the decision was made we basically spent all of our free time on route planning, gear choosing and preparing the bike. We wanted to do the tour bikepacking style, with big fat tubeless tires and as little gear as possible. Slovenia is experiencing a tourist boom in the past few years, so we knew we want to skip the high summer season and setting our departure date to mid-September. We took in consideration the September weather from previous years, hoping to have brilliant weather, with perfect temperatures for cycling and very few tourist.
We boarded ourselves and our fully loaded 30kg bikes on sunny Saturday morning train towards Slovenian border, where we planned to take of and start our trip. First day we spent riding through the Slovenian’s chicken head (look at map), mostly through forest roads, fields and tiny little villages with abnormal road gradients (from 17% to 21%). This part of the country is quite isolated and mostly populated with older people who run their own farms usually in the middle of nowhere. And that’s where we slept that night, we set up a tent on an old couples backyard in the middle of nowhere just few meters from Austrian border.
Next day we sought for some good burek (we only found a horrible one), got lost by our GPS track and arrived to Maribor just before it started to rain. When I checked the forecast that evening for the upcoming days I was literally horrified. It showed nothing but rain, rain and more rain for the next few days. Yes we were prepared with rain gear, but honestly who wants to ride all day in a pouring rain, through muddy trails, sleep in a wet tent and repeat that the next day, and the day after and the day after that day? Not us.
Next day we were suppose to take the funicular to the Pohorje plateau, where we would spent riding across for the next two days. But all we got in the morning was a big black cloud above our head and pouring rain, like someone just opened a water pipe. We decided to seek shelter at my family's house and wait it out until it looked a bit more cheerful to ride. In spite of the decision, we still wanted to ride to Celje, which is approx. 60 km from Maribor, just so we wouldn’t look like too pussies. Well we certainly didn’t make it to Celje, but only about 20 km from Maribor in the biggest storm. The water was coming from all direction, it was lightning, and the only thing which was keeping our spirit up was the whiskey, which we were sipping at every bus station we passed.
After a day of drying ourselves we got a brake in the clouds, and used the opportunity to take a 2 day trip to Logar valley, which is not so far from my home village, but still there is a mountain to climb in between.
There is many glacial valleys in Slovenia, but there are only few which are advertised for tourist and that certainly doesn’t mean others are less beautiful or less spectacular and Logar valley is one of them. It’s not a known destination for tourist, not many of them even heard about it and only few actually visit it. It’s a stunning dead end valley with a ‘picture perfect’ waterfall at the end. There were few moments when it felt like being in Iceland (if we forget about the trees). Due to big amount of rain the temperature dropped so we reserved ourselves a room in a mountain hut, that way we wouldn’t have to worry about bringing a tent or possible rain during the night. We arrived there in the late afternoon, the sun was already giving last breaths behind the mountain tops and we were totally surprised when we learned we were the only guests in the hut.
We woke up into mild but very windy morning with a tought of getting back home before afternoon, knowing another multi day storm was apporaching with a lightning speed. While crossing the mountain pass we got caught into a cold fog cloud, and we were not sure if it’s raining or why the hell we were totally wet.
Next few days we spent at home filling up our ‘fat stock’, sneaking on bears (unfortunately we were left out for this experiance) and picking mushrooms. On Sunday we said stop to this madness, packed our bikes and left for Slovenian sea side with a train. We knew there are still few rainy days ahead, but at that point we were fed up and we just wanted to ride, no matter what. In worst case we would get stuck in the mud, ran out of food and die from hypothermia (haha).
We spent a day cruising Slovenian coast, checking out the Strunjan national park and the Moon bay, eating pizza and hoping the threatening black cloud would go away. It rained entire night and we woke up to a soaking tent with a surrounding mud field and more rain.
We were hesitating with decision what we should do next and only around midday we decided to continue our way to little village of Stanjel, where we could stay at my friend Marusa in their lovely stone house and dry out our wet stuff. What followed in the next 6 hours was probably my hardest ride to date. Heavy winds, rain and a ‘mind which wants to quit’ does not make for a lovely ride. But we made it with a help of 5 Sneaker bars and some cheese. We arrived in the late afternoon and got the greatest warm welcome with some Slovenian Jota (cabbage - bean soup) and beer. Our stuff got dry during the night and we woke up into a fresh but sunny morning, feeling positive to continue what is left from our trip. We waved our goodbyes to Marusa and headed towards Nova Gorica where we met with our friend Dean, who took us in for the night. Next morning all three of us left toward the final destination for that day Bovec. My favorite place in the whole world, seriously. Rather than riding on the road, upstream the Soca river, Dean took us on the Gorisko hills, where we had some stunning views on the Julian alps, Dolomites and we could even see the Adriatic sea. At times I hardly believed we are in Slovenia, with huge mountains surrounding us I secretly imagined we are in Himalayas or more realistically that we are riding in a Milka commercial.
Our ways with Dean separated in Kobarid, but before that we ate a ‘pretty close to authentic Italian pizza.
We arrived to Bovec just before it got dark, and set up our tent in an almost empty camping not far from the village. During the night my mattress decided to give up on me, leaving me sleeping on a cold and hard ground, resulting in ‘not so fresh’ me in the morning. After having a big breakfast we packed ourselves and started our climb toward Vrsis mountain pass. We are talking about the most famous mountain pass Slovenia here, it’s 33 km long climb up to 1611 m a.s.l. and it every Slovenian cyclist dream to do it one day. This was my first attempt and I’d say last as well. I was hot, I was cold, I was thirsty, I was hungry, I stopped for photos, I stopped to look at flowers, I stopped for peeing but after 3 hours I made it. Poor Gergo was there much earlier, freezing while waiting for me to arrive. The only thing waiting ahead for us was to descent into Kranjska Gora where would camp for the night. Unfortunately all didn’t go as we planned and after the 6 hairpin turn, my brakes burnt out. Dammit. Only thing I could do is to walk next 6km down to the valley. So much about the deserved descent.
Above that I was totally bummed when I figured out I have lost one of my sandals which was attached to the saddle bag. And I am still bummed about it.
Our last night spent outside was probably also our coldest one, the temperature dropped to about 2°C. Last day of our trip gifted us with sunny weather, so we decided to ride the whole way to my family house back to Trzin. We finished our journey late afternoon with grinning faces and some stories to tell.
I'd like to say thanks for the support to:
- Source, for keeping me well hydrated with the Source hydration pack, and keeping my feet well ventilated with the most awesome Crossers sandals
- Mesterbike, for being the best bike shop in town and prepin' our bikes serviced for the adventure
- Friends (you know who you are), who hosted us and showed us around
p.s. Note to ourselves, do not bring a 8 year old tent to a rainy bikepacking trip.