Travel on two wheels

Headwinds Along The Croatian Riviera


GNARLY WINDS FORCED me to push the bike even at some downhill parts. I spent a chilly night camping by the sea. 8/2/15

Breakfast on the day after—an apple. I didn’t take any interesting photos on that day because wind was all there was.

“Rijeka does not have the sunny beaches. Tourists normally don’t stay for more than two nights, they only pass through”, is what a staff member of the Rijeka hostel tells me. It makes sense to me: Rijeka is a port city, an industrial place. Huge concrete appartment blocks pop into one’s eye, rather than the beauty of the coastline. Really every inch is covered in this concrete desert.

There might not be any sunny beaches, but Rijeka is damn sure sunny today. Which is a revolution for me—I don’t have to wear all my clothes for once! (At least that’s what I think, foolishly changing to my lighter biking apparel. I was literally blinded by the weather, as I should later realize.)

In an attempt of avoiding the busy coast road (the traffic around Rijeka is massive), I pick the “second row”, i.e. the valley next to the sea. Every now and then I get a glimpse on the ocean, but this is not my main concern right now. It’s rather the narrow road, the free-running dogs and the fact that I’m virtually making no progress at all—this road is by far not ideal. After some consideration, I decide to get on the coast road again. A decision I will not regret.

Pushing the bike against the wind

Only on Friday (the day before yesterday), the Northern Adria had a windy visitor—Bora, the Adriatic breeze, built up to a 150 kph hurricane-like storm and put everything on hold for a day, leaving a lot of infrastructure and flora destroyed. The aftermath of this wind should be what I am getting into on this seemingly sunny and nice day. 

In the early afternoon, the sky gets more and more cloudy and I start getting colder. I put on my scarf. Then, wind starts to get slightly noticeable. As in, I didn’t even mind it at all up to that point, but suddenly I realize—oh, that’s a breeze right there. Well played, Bora, well played.

One hour later I’m fighting a strong, at times heavy headwind that even makes downhill sections seem uphill. With my route choice along the coast, I am completely exposed to the breeze. It’s like a kitten playing with a wool ball, except that kitten is Bora and that wool ball is me. I ride in the middle of the lane not to be blown off the road. When the road takes a few sharp turns, it’s pointless. I have to get off the bike and push it. Even on a slight downhill section, I have to lean against the handle bar, walking the bike on the side of the road. 

Spending the night at minus 2 degrees

After a ridiculous 60 km in total (I don’t care about mileage, but I do want to progress), I decide to call it a day. It’s getting dark anyways, thanks to my late start. As I’ve only stayed indoors so far, I really want to try out camping at those medium to cold temperatures. 

I pick a spot in a bay, hidden behind a beach booth. After pitching my one-man tent—which takes way longer than expected with gloves on—I put on all the clothes I have. All of them. Wearing four pairs of trousers, three pairs of socks, two pullovers and two longsleeve T-shirts, not to mention my thick mittens and my hat plus storm mask, I cuddle up in my two sleeping bags and close my eyes. Hoping I don’t freeze anything off till the morning.

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