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Croatia to Slovenia

Day 5 begins in Zagreb and tackles the exhausting 94 mile route from Croatia to Slovenia. The mountainous trek will truly test the team’s endurance, ascending 3014 metres through isolated terrain and finishing in Ljubljana.

3014M
94 miles
10°C
Croatia: Fairly flat riding, with some small climbs and descents.
Slovenia: Gradual ascent to a height of 462 metres.

Journey Update

Day 4 was to mark a couple of milestones on the 777 Challenge – over half distance, and moving on from Hungary, the country through which we had to travel the most miles, to Croatia and a welcome stop in the historic capital city of Zagreb.

The schlep through Hungary has been characterised by long, flat, straight roads with lots of trucks who don’t care much for cyclists, and this, combined with the persistent headwind, has made for seriously hard, boring miles for the boys. They say that being in a war consists of long periods of boredom, interspersed with moments of terror, and that’s what it’s been like for the last two days.

It’s a good job someone knows where we’re going, as Gary piped up at breakfast, “Latvia today boys, let’s do it!” Stick to the pedalling, son.

The weather forecast was good, with bright sunshine and warm temperatures, but it hadn’t brought out the good humour in the gun-toting female Croatian border guard, who demanded “Passports!” to Miles, Gary and James as they approached the border post ahead of the support truck. “They’re in the car back there,” said Miles, to much tutting and frowning. At this moment Olly rocks up singing an old show tune as only he can. “PASSPORTS!” she demanded more forcefully, right hand twitching above the shiny stock of her pistol. “They’re in the car back there,” said Olly tunefully…

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Five down, two to go: at the Croatian border yesterday

Having negotiated the border (the first with any kind of checking since leaving Brno), the boys pedalled on into Croatia, and we suffered our first navigational hiccup of the tour. Sean turned right, Miles went straight on, cue much wailing and knashing of teeth, and a whole bunch of neg fines from the big lad. Decency and the watershed prevents me from repeating much of what was said, but apparently it went something like “$^%&£”!!! *<@*%ing $£”*%&cks!!” or words to that effect.

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Gary’s obsession with drinking tea took a turn for the worse at a café, when his “tea” turned up with a slice of lemon. “Can I have some milk?” he asked, the waiter looked a bit nonplussed but brought some anyway, which Gary gleefully poured into his………blueberry infusion. Nice!

It’s often a struggle to find somewhere decent for lunch, and so it proved on Day 4, where the first two places we tried had nothing but beer and peanuts on offer. The silver lining was eventually finding Flamingo Fast Food, where we tucked into juicy burgers and kebabs. “Incredible baps,” muttered Gary between mouthfuls. “Mmmm,” we all agreed.

The hills kicked in after lunch, and the memory of the baps was soon a distant one, as the lads were overtaken by a vintage tractor up the first steep ascent, only to fly past it soon afterwards on the descent into the next valley. Croatia is a beautiful country, scattered with well-kept villages connected by lovely winding roads. It wasn’t long before the city of Zagreb hove into view, and the boys had to negotiate heavy rush hour traffic and more lethal cobbles and tramlines to reach the Esplanade Hotel in the heart of the old town, a grand old place that has a façade that could pass for Buckingham Palace. An excellent dinner and a glass or two of local Croatian wine capped off a tough day in the saddle.

Aside from Miles’ expletive-laced rant after his minor navigational error, the neg box was untroubled by the other members of the team, so that’s just another £200 from the tour leader for today. His total is climbing rapidly, so he might want to think about calming down a bit for Day 5 – a mountainous stage from Zagreb into Slovenia and up to the capital Ljubljana. There are some gravel roads on the route, so hopefully all the guys will manage to stay upright. Wish us luck!

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The Route

Altitude

The Stages

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Starting Line

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Stage 1: Czech Republic to Slovakia

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Stage 2: Slovakia to Hungary

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Stage 3: Hungary

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Stage 4: Hungary to Croatia

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Stage 5: Croatia to Slovenia

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Stage 6: Slovenia to Italy

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Stage 7: Italy

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Finish Line

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