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Hungary to Croatia

Setting off early from Zalakaros, Day 4 is a punishing 110 mile trek across Hungary to Croatia. The team will ascend 1486 metres through forests and over the River Drava and ending their day’s journey in Zagreb.

1486M
110 miles
22°C
Hungary: High-altitude, short climbs, descents and flat riding.
Croatia: A few steep climbs and descents, but following a similar pattern.

Journey Update

Yesterday, day 3 of the 777 challenge, saw our valiant crusaders tackle another lengthy stage, from the top of Lake Balaton all the way to the thermal spa resort of Zalakaros in the south-west corner of Hungary. The stage consisted of a fairly flat 60 mile run along the south coast of the lake, followed by a more challenging 36 mile section up into the surrounding hills on the way to the border with Croatia.

The day started with the first “Neg box” shout, as someone had parked their van behind the support vehicle and trailer in the hotel car park, requiring some deft manoeuvring to reverse the rig from its overnight parking spot. Miles’ offer of “Do you want me to do it?” was predictably met with a swift (and Anglo Saxon) retort from his ever-competitive brother Sean, and the first contribution to charity followed.

The weather was much better than the day before, dry and bright, but the one thing that is guaranteed to set Miles off is a persistent headwind, and you’ve guessed it, the wind stayed resolutely in their faces throughout what should have been a fairly straightforward day’s ride. Cue more contributions to the Neg Box from the big fella.

Lake Balaton is a massive inland lake, and provides the otherwise land-locked Hungarians with their only “coastline”, and we passed a large number of hotels, villas and holiday resorts on our way along the shoreline. Unfortunately the holiday season was over, so most of the inviting restaurants and cafes were closed, and the whole place had a bit of a ghost town feel.

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Lake Balaton: Landlocked Hungary's "coastline"

The one thing that hadn’t departed with the holiday crowds was the local insect population, and it wasn’t long before Gary was bitten on the leg by what looked like the lesser-spotted Hungarian hornet. Without any anti-histamine cream in the first aid kit, Sean had to head off to the local pharmacy armed only with a finely tuned “charades” routine to explain what we needed. They seemed to get the message and dispensed a large tube of unidentifiable cream, which doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the leg swelling, but early indications are that he might be sporting a full head of hair by the time we get back!

It was hard to find anywhere for lunch along the coast, but we eventually wound up at a rough looking biker-themed pub that was open. The owners were resolute in not understanding a word of English, so we had to resort to the international language of “pizza”, which got the message across. Lunch was a bargain at 10,000 Forint (£30) for all of us including coffee, until Sean decided to scrape the back end of the owner’s Renault Espace with his front wheel when reversing out of the car park. Cue more offers of “Do you want me to do it?” from Miles, another 10,000 Forint to placate the irate owner (and double the value of his ropey old motor), and a further £20 contribution to the Neg Box from Sean.

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An eventful lunch of pizza and minor car scrapes abound.

There was a bright side at lunch though, as today saw the first instalment of a new feature we’re calling “Gary’s Philosophy Corner”, where we all get to benefit from pearls of wisdom from the elder statesman of the 777 Challenge. Today’s gems included…

“Straight roads are the quickest way from A to B.”

And from yesterday’s rain soaked stage…

“All my wet gear is wet.”

Thanks Gary, keep us posted on your next incisive observations and we’ll all learn something!

The roads were “interesting” today – well surfaced and fairly straight, but littered with road signs indicating that tractors, horse drawn vehicles and bicycles were forbidden. The local lorry drivers certainly seemed to take this to heart, and there were some slightly dodgy moments at times. With no alternative but to carry on, the team ignored the signs and pedalled on, only to be given a stern lecture on international road signs by Olly “Highway Code” Gardner over a well-earned beer at the end of the day!

Today’s decent weather and reasonably flat terrain kept the Neg Box scores down, with the final tally being:

James: 1 (Urgent call of nature just a few miles short of the next scheduled stop!)
Olly: 0 (Well done that man)
Gary: 0 (Far too happy, despite his insect attack)
Miles: 7 (Well, it’s still windy, and he hates flat straight roads when it is)
Sean: 2 (Sibling abuse, justified when he then bumped the car at lunchtime)

So another £200 for the charities today, lets see what tomorrow’s stage into Croatia and the mountains will bring!

👉To donate: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.co...

The Route

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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

Keep up with our cyclists as they make their trip across Europe. They’ll be keeping us up-to-date with live GPS tracking and social updates…

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