The Rides

Winter? Whatever…

During the shortest days of the year the weather reminds us what will be waiting in Spring. Here below the ‘catch’ of three sunny rides.

R0023338
Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar climates and temperate climates, between autumn and spring. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. (Wikipedia)
Winter? Whatever… (Mark Koghee)

R0023346
The Cerkev na Hribcu or in English Church on the Little Hill is from the 18th century and belongs to the settlement of Puštal. But when you can see the church it means that you are in Škofa Loka.

R0023343
Don’t you just hate it too when the person riding next to you is constantly trying to keep his front wheel just in front of yours?

R0023349
There is more than 50 per cent chance that the Kamnik-Savinja Alps (with Škofa Loka here in the foreground) will be completely covered in snow before Spring.

R0023392
The same Kamnik-Savinja Alps but now with the castle of Ljubljana in the foreground. (click to enlarge)

R0023388
And again the Kamnik-Savinja Alps but now with the Sint Michaels Church designed by Jože Plečnik.

R0023394
And that is how these pictures get made.

R0023379
Religion or the road…

R0023384
Selfie!

R0023368
A little bit of last minute inspiritation for all the builders of miniature Christmas villages. Šentjošt nad Horjulom (619 metres).

R0023350
“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls” (Bob Weir, Grateful Dead)

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday-ride, 16 October. About hairpins, churches and crosses

Zgornje Smrečje, 713 metre.
Zgornje Smrečje, 713 metre.

A hairpin is a long device used to hold a person's hair in place. It may be used simply to secure long hair out of the way for convenience or as part of an elaborate hairstyle or coiffure. The earliest evidence for dressing the hair may be seen in carved "venus figurines" such as the Venus of Brassempouy and the Venus of Willendorf. (Wikipedia). 180 degrees corners in roads are also called hairpins. This particular hairpin is also a crossing in the directions Podlipa, Žažar and Smrečje .
A hairpin is a long device used to hold a person’s hair in place. It may be used simply to secure long hair out of the way for convenience or as part of an elaborate hairstyle or coiffure. The earliest evidence for dressing the hair may be seen in carved “venus figurines” such as the Venus of Brassempouy and the Venus of Willendorf. (Wikipedia). 180 degrees corners in roads are also called hairpins. This particular hairpin is also a crossing in the directions Podlipa, Žažar and Smrečje .

These might be oak trees or appleless apple trees or.... Indeed I have no clue.
These might be oak trees or appleless apple trees or…. Indeed, I have no clue.
A Slovenian hill top without church is like a city without buildings.
A Slovenian hill top without church is like a city without buildings.
Without me, my bike is like a car without engine.
Without me, my bike is like a car without engine.
Zaklanec is a tiny village with a dramatic history. In 1920 a fire destroyed the village, in 1943 the Germans bombed Zaklanec.
Zaklanec is a tiny village with a dramatic history. In 1920 a fire destroyed the village, in 1943 the Germans bombed Zaklanec.
Click to enlarge and find the second Christian cross.
Click to enlarge and find the second Christian cross.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Riding in Dolenjska

The Dolenjska or Lower Carniola region of Slovenia lies in the south-east of the country. Saturday the first of November friend Alenka guided us on a three hour tour from Otočec towards the east and back to Otočec.

R0023056

It is scientifically  proven that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury. There is no proven benefit at all of wearing a bicycle helmet while drinking coffee.
It is scientifically proven that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury. There is no proven benefit at all of wearing a bicycle helmet while drinking coffee.
The oak tree in the village of Malence is hundreds of years old and is said to be one of the three most magnificent trees in Slovenia.
The oak tree in the village of Malence is hundreds of years old and is said to be one of the three most magnificent trees in Slovenia.
Slovenia is after Finland and Sweden the third European country with over 60 per cent of its territory under forests. The around 900 companies of the Slovenian wood working industry employ 12,000 people. Here the small joinery of Jože Oštir in Zameško.
Slovenia is after Finland and Sweden the third European country with over 60 per cent of its territory under forests. The around 900 companies of the Slovenian wood working industry employ 12,000 people. Here the small joinery of Jože Oštir in Zameško.
Severina Vučković, best known by her stage name Severina, is a Croatian pop singer popular across the entire former Yugoslavia. In 2006, Nacional weekly listed her among the 100 most influential Croats, calling her "the only bona fide Croatian celebrity". (Wikipedia)
Severina Vučković, best known by her stage name Severina, is a Croatian pop singer popular across the entire former Yugoslavia. In 2006, Nacional weekly listed her among the 100 most influential Croats, calling her “the only bona fide Croatian celebrity”. (Wikipedia)
Alenka Novak and Marjetka Conradi, best known by their first names Alenka and Marjetka, are cyclists from Slovenia popular across the entire republic of Slovenia. (Ljubljanees)
Alenka Novak and Marjetka Conradi, best known by their first names Alenka and Marjetka, are cyclists from Slovenia popular across the entire republic of Slovenia. (Ljubljanees)
Kostanjevica na Krki is Slovenia's smallest town. It has around 700 inhabitants. Because it's an island in the river Krka the town is also known as the 'Venice of Dolenska'.
Kostanjevica na Krki is Slovenia’s smallest town. It has around 700 inhabitants. Because it’s an island in the river Krka the town is also known as the ‘Venice of Dolenska’.

R0023059

R0023080
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mission to the secret tunnel of Goli Vrh

Once upon a time…. Between world wars I and II the western part of Slovenia (then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was Italian territory, according to the Treaty of Rapallo. To defend the rest of the country and capital Ljubljana against the Italians a defense line consisting of bunkers, tunnels and forts was built in the lush forests and mountains between the west of Slovenia and the centre of Slovenia, from north to south. This fortification system is now known as the Rupnik Line, named after Slovenian general Leon Rupnik who led the fortification works.

The Rupnik Line was never really used. When the Germans invaded Slovenia in 1941 the vast majority of the defense line wasn’t ready yet. General Rupnik probably wouldn’t have regretted it. During the Second World War he collaborated with the Fascist Italian and Nazi German forces.

Nowadays you can hike and ride along the fortification system. Recently I spotted a brand new sign that pointed the way to the Rupnik Line. In the village of Suhi Dol, 25 kilometres from Ljubljana, my adventure started. I was on an expedition to the underground fort on top of Goli Vrh (962 metres).

Signs make the discovery of  the hidden fortifications a piece of cake.
Signs make the discovery of the hidden fortifications a piece of cake.
From Goli Vrh you can see the church of Crni Vrh. In the former Yugoslavia you can find many places called Crni Vrh. This is the one closest to Ljubljana.  Crni Vrh is Slovenian for black top.
From Goli Vrh you can see the church of Crni Vrh. In the former Yugoslavia you can find many places called Crni Vrh. This is the one closest to Ljubljana. Crni Vrh means black top. (click photo to enlarge)
What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.  (American author Tennessee Williams)
What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains. (American author Tennessee Williams)
Mission accomplished.
Mission accomplished.
The underground fortification  of Goli Vrh will remain a mystery.
The underground fortification of Goli Vrh will remain a mysterie.

R0022869

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Top 10 views from the bike, 18- 19 October

Saint Hermagoras of Aquileia was the first bishop of the once mighty city Aquileia in northern Italy.  The church of the settlement of Koreno near Ljubljana, here on top (click to enlarge), was dedicated to this saint and his deacon Fortunatus from the 3rd century.
Saint Hermagoras of Aquileia was the first bishop of the once mighty city Aquileia in northern Italy. The church of the settlement of Koreno near Ljubljana, here on top (click to enlarge), was dedicated to this saint and his deacon Fortunatus from the 3rd century.
Fluo is back.
Fluo is back.

R0022898

You can only catch your own shadow if you change direction.
You can only catch your own shadow if you change direction.
On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it. (Jules Renard) Hills between Koreno and Samotorica, 20 kilometres west of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it. (Jules Renard) Hills between Koreno and Samotorica, 20 kilometres west of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. (Albert Einstein)
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. (Albert Einstein)
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. (Albert Camus)
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. (Albert Camus)

R0022932

R0022931

Luka Mezgec (left) is currently Slovenia's most successful cyclist. No wonder then that he won the last race of the season in the village of Podsmreka near Ljubljana.
Luka Mezgec (left) is currently Slovenia’s most successful cyclist. No wonder then that he won the last race of the season on Sunday in the village of Podsmreka near Ljubljana.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday ride, 11 October

Pursuit : a. the act of pursuing, chasing, or striving after b. (as modifier): a pursuit plane. 2. (Other Non-sporting Hobbies) an occupation, hobby, or pastime 3. (Cycle Racing) (in cycling) a race in which the riders set off at intervals along the track and attempt to overtake each other. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex).
Pursuit :
a. the act of pursuing, chasing, or striving after
b. (as modifier): a pursuit plane.
2. (Other Non-sporting Hobbies) an occupation, hobby, or pastime
3. (Cycle Racing) (in cycling) a race in which the riders set off at intervals along the track and attempt to overtake each other. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex).
You are only as fast as your shadow.
You are only as fast as your shadow.
Humans can endlessly discuss what's the definition of a good life. Cows seem so much more intelligent in this aspect.
Humans can endlessly discuss what’s the definition of a good life. Cows seem so much more intelligent in this aspect.
A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink which is traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits. (Wikipedia)
A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink which is traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits. (Wikipedia)

R0022833R0022841

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Views from the bike of monday 29 September

The Saint Ulrich church lies at and altitude of 428 metres 80 metres above the village of Zaklanec. The racebike is mine.
The Saint Ulrich church lies at and altitude of 428 metres 80 metres above the village of Zaklanec. The racebike is mine.
R0022736R0022738
Around 350 people live in Podlipa which is one of the cutest villages I know.
Around 350 people live in Podlipa which is one of the cutest villages I know.
R0022741
I like the social aspect of cycling. You always make new friends on the way and always seem so interested in you.
I like the social aspect of cycling. You always make new friends on the way who always seem so interested in you.
R0022748
There are six roadside shrines in Šentjošt nad Horjulom registered as cultural heritage and this is one of them.
There are six roadside shrines in Šentjošt nad Horjulom registered as cultural heritage and this is one of them.
The village of Vrzdenec here in the valley is called Schönbrunn in German. Not to be confused with Schönbrunn palace in Vienna.
The village of Vrzdenec here in the valley is called Schönbrunn in German. Not to be confused with Schönbrunn palace in Vienna.
R0022752R0022755

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In Black-and-White: Conclusions of the Amateur World Championships

From Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 August Ljubljana hosted the World Cycling Championships for amateurs.

Some personal conclusions from the championships:

Amateurs take their cycling much more serious than professionals.

You are never too old to:

– Ride the newest and most expensive bikes

– Suffer

– Fall

– Fight

– Win

– Ride fast

– Be fanatic

The level of racing was sometimes close to professional.

There are too many world champions cycling.

– Only one man can be the best cyclist in the world, but for adult men there are UCI rainbow jerseys in the categories (Under 23 years, Professionals, under 35 years, under 40, under 45, under 50, under 55, under 60, under 65, above 65.

And then we have para cycling world championships, military world championships, world championships police cycling, the world medical cycling championships, the world championships for firemen and last but not least, of course, the world cycling championships for journalists, where I will participate from 3 to 7 September in Austria. Will the real world champion please stand up?

This is what Bert Bakker looks like from the front. It's a rare sight for cyclists because we normally only see him from the back when he's riding in front. Bert Bakker is from Zaandam in the Netherlands, like I am. Twenty years ago we were riding for the same club. He was in his late thirties and he was riding fast. Now he's almost 60 and he is still riding fast. He became word champion timetrial in the 60-64 category.
This is what Bert Bakker looks like from the front. It’s a rare sight for cyclists because we normally only see him from the back when he’s riding in front. Bert Bakker is from Zaandam in the Netherlands, like I am. More than twenty years ago we were riding for the same club. He was in his late thirties and he was fast. Now he’s almost 60 and he is not much slower. He became word champion timetrial in the 60-64 category.
It hasn't been a good summer in Slovenia but during the four days of the World Championships there was plenty of sunshine. Here the sun peeps through the buildings in the centre of Ljubljana during the team relay race on Friday evening.
It hasn’t been a good summer in Slovenia but during the four days of the World Championships there was plenty of sunshine. Here the sun peeps through the buildings in the centre of Ljubljana during the team relay race on Friday evening.
There were 1500 cyclists from 43 countries participating in the world championships for amateurs. On this photo I could only count 30 riders, which is one 50th of the total number of cyclists in Ljubljana last weekend.
There were 1500 cyclists from 43 countries participating in the world championships for amateurs. On this photo I could only count 30 riders, which is one 50th of the total number of cyclists in Ljubljana last weekend.
For many of the foreign competitors it was the first time they visited Slovenia. Most were impressed by the scenery of places like this; the top of the first climb less than 30 kilometres from Ljubljana.
For many of the foreign competitors it was the first time they visited Slovenia. Most were impressed by the scenery of places like this; the top of the first climb less than 30 kilometres from Ljubljana.
Of all cyclists who passed by, this man was the only one who rode up the climb with a smile. And why wouldn't he? He is Gilberto Simoni and he won the Giro d'Italia twice. Simoni wasn't participating. He was a VIP and he was making an easy sunday morning ride.
Of all cyclists who passed by, this man was the only one who rode up the climb with a smile. And why wouldn’t he? He is Gilberto Simoni and he won the Giro d’Italia twice. Simoni wasn’t participating. He was a VIP and he was making an easy sunday morning ride.
Tanned muscled bodies on sophisticated new racing bikes. Only when the helmets were taken off and the grey hair was shown you could notice that most participants were already of respectable age.
Tanned muscled bodies on sophisticated new racing bikes. Only when the helmets were taken off and the grey hair was shown, you could notice that most participants were already of respectable age.
In Ljubljana 32 people became a world champion.
In Ljubljana 32 people became a world champion.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Riding with Pantani

On the roads of Italy’s region Emilia-Romagna we have been chasing the spirit of the late cycling hero Marco ‘Il Pirata’ Pantani. These were the roads he loved and when you ride them you will discover why. The roads of Emilia-Romagna twist through a countryside filled with vineyards and ancient villages and towns. They inspire to ride.

Ten years ago Pantani died at the age of 34, but when you ride his former training routes he still feels very much alive. Had Pantani still been living today, we might have forgotten about him. Now that he’s dead many of his fans make sure we will never forget him. Il Pirata is remembered with roadpaintings and roadside monuments. And when you ride his former training routes you might, sometimes, feel him riding with you.

Text and photos Mark Koghee

On the left Primoz from Slovenia. On the right Andrea, our friend and guide.
On the left Primoz from Slovenia. On the right Andrea, our friend and guide who invited us.
I think Andrea has the best job in the world. He promotes Emilia-Romagna by riding his bike with people. And how hard can that promoting be, this countryside promotes itself.
I think Andrea has the best job in the world. He promotes Emilia-Romagna by riding his bike with people. And how hard can that promoting be, this countryside promotes itself.
Spazio Pantani is the museum about late cyclist Marco Pantani.
Spazio Pantani in the old railway station of Cesenatico is the museum about late cyclist Marco Pantani. When you visit it you will understand why Pantani lived in a big villa. He needed space for all his cycling stuff…
Pantani's bike of his dreamseason 1998 when he won the Giro and Tour de France. I don't know what the carbon brake levers are doing there. They weren't around yet in 1998.
Pantani’s bike of his dreamseason 1998 when he won the Giro and Tour de France. I don’t know what the carbon brake levers are doing there. They weren’t around yet in 1998.
We will never know what Marco Pantani was thinking but his paintings give witness of a complicated mind.
Pantani the artist. We will never know what Marco Pantani was thinking but his paintings give witness of a mind that was occupied with more than cycling. You wont find any bikes or cyclists on Pantani’s paintings. .
Bandanna or Bandana: ban·dan·na noun \ban-ˈda-nə\ : a square piece of cloth that is used as a head covering or worn around the neck (Merriam-Webster) The bandana became a trademark of Pantani.
Bandanna or Bandana: ban·dan·na noun \ban-ˈda-nə\
: a square piece of cloth that is used as a head covering or worn around the neck (Merriam-Webster)
The bandana became a trademark of Pantani.
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants, only plants that are usable as lumber or only plants above a specified height. At its broadest, trees include the taller palms, the tree ferns, bananas and bamboo. (Wikipedia)
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants, only plants that are usable as lumber or only plants above a specified height. At its broadest, trees include the taller palms, the tree ferns, bananas and bamboo. (Wikipedia)
Via Guiseppe Garibaldi in Roncofreddo
Via Guiseppe Garibaldi in Roncofreddo is just one of many beautiful points in the region.
This is the Strada Provinciale 79 between Santa Maria Riopetra and Montegelli. If roads were music than this one would certainly be disco!
This is the Strada Provinciale 79 between Santa Maria Riopetra and Montegelli. If roads were music than this one would certainly be disco!
The SP79 just before Bivio Montegelli. Still disco dancing....
The SP79 just before Bivio Montegelli. Still disco dancing….
The Montevecchio was Pantani's favorite climb.
The Montevecchio was Pantani’s favorite climb. Mamma Tonina Pantani: ,,He loved the scenery there so much. In summertime he would sometimes step of the bike to pick some figs.”
A rock at the top of Montevecchio now carries the picture of Marco Pantani.
A rock at the top of Montevecchio now carries the picture of Marco Pantani. Not visible are two tiny weathered Teddy bears under the rock.
Giovanni Pascoli was Italy's most important poet at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Emilia Romagna was his home.
Giovanni Pascoli was Italy’s most important poet at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Emilia Romagna was his home.

R0021976-2

Andrea fills his bidon in one of many roadside fountains. In 95 kilometres of riding I tapped 1,5 liters of free Emilia Romagna water.
Andrea fills his bidon in one of many roadside fountains. In 95 kilometres of riding I tapped 1,5 liters of free Emilia Romagna water.

R0021970-2

In Italy you never ride alone.
In Italy you never ride alone.If you do want to ride alone, just ride really really fast.
The village of Maciano at the foot of the Carpegna mountain pass  has around 550 inhabitants.
The village of Maciano at the foot of the Carpegna mountain pass has around 550 inhabitants.
This kind lady, who lives on the first slopes of the Carpegna, gave us shelter when the rain came pooring down.
This kind lady, who lives on the first slopes of the Carpegna, gave us shelter when the rain came pooring down.
,,Is it dangerous'', we asked the man. ,,I think so'', he said. ,,Can we go through'', we asked. ,,I don't know'', he answered. ,,Howcome you dont know?'' ,,I came here to watch not to stand guard.''
,,Is it dangerous”, we asked the man. ,,I think so”, he said. ,,Can we go through”, we asked. ,,I don’t know”, he answered. ,,Howcome you dont know?”
,,I came here to watch not to stand guard.”
Il Carpegna mi basta!! The Carpegna is enough for me, said Pantani everytime he rode up the climb. I couldn't agree more.
Il Carpegna mi basta!! The Carpegna is enough for me, said Pantani everytime he rode up the climb. I couldn’t agree more.
Halfway the climb of the Cippo di Carpegna you can find this Pantani monument. Now everybody can pass Marco Pantani in a climb.
Halfway the climb of the Cippo di Carpegna you can find this Pantani monument. Now everybody can pass Marco Pantani in a climb.
Marco Pantani loved the Emilia-Romagna countryside. That is not really surprising if you would see it yourself.
Marco Pantani loved the Emilia-Romagna countryside. That is not really surprising if you would see it yourself.
Every day cyclists have their picture taken next to this monument for Pantani on top of the Cippo di Carpegna.
Every day cyclists have their picture taken next to this monument for Pantani on top of the Cippo di Carpegna.

I don't know much about meteorology  but this looks like a nimbostratus cloud. It produced at least a lot of rain.
I don’t know much about meteorology but this looks like a nimbostratus cloud. It produced a lot of rain.

After riding your bike you don't sleep any better in a round bed, but it's sure more fun. Bikehotel Lungomare in Cesenatico might very well be the only bikehotel in the world with a round bed.
After riding your bike you don’t sleep any better in a round bed, but it’s sure more fun. Bikehotel Lungomare in Cesenatico might very well be the only bikehotel in the world with a round bed.
The Grand Hotel Terme Della Fratta is just as fancy as it looks. But no problem to walk around in lycra, it's a bike hotel too.
The Grand Hotel Terme Della Fratta is just as fancy as it looks. But no problem to walk around in lycra, it’s a bike hotel too.
A last farewell.
A last farewell. ‘Always with you Marco’

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Monte Zoncolan – The Grande Finale of 3 weeks Giro d´Italia

The climb to Monte Zoncolan is 10 kilometres long and has an average gradient of 11.9%. On Saturday May 31 it was the last major climb in this year´s Giro and the toughest. All 156 cyclists who started the climb finished in time. Winner was Australian Michael Rogers, last one was Australian Michael Hepburn 29 minutes and 9 seconds later.

We were 5; Marjetka, Amadeja, Ela, Robin and me. After 1 kilometre of the climb we found a place to watch. Here´s what we saw.

But first, let me take a selfie...
But first, let me take a selfie…
Thumbs up for the big truck of the rolling disco that is the publicity caravan.
Thumbs up for the big truck of the rolling disco that is the publicity caravan.
If you don´t have to ride up you would say that it´s a beautiful road that curves its way up Monte Zoncolan.
If you don´t have to ride up you would say that it´s a beautiful road that curves its way up Monte Zoncolan.
Cycling has always been popular in Colombia. Nobel Prize Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote in the 1950ies a biography about Colombia´s first cycling hero Ramon Hoyo. Nairo Quintana from Tunja is now the new hero.
Cycling has always been popular in Colombia. Nobel Prize Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote in the 1950ies a biography about Colombia´s first cycling hero Ramon Hoyo. Giro-winner Nairo Quintana from Tunja is now the new hero.
Love is.... watching a bike race together.
Love is…. watching a bike race together.
Simon Geschke of Giant-Shimano leads with teammate Georg Preidler in his wheel. ,,Payback time. After @PREIDI helped me to get 2nd in Savona i was happy to do some pace today for him. The Zoncolan is one crazy climb!´´, tweeted Geschke afterwards.
Simon Geschke of Giant-Shimano leads with teammate Georg Preidler in his wheel. ,,Payback time. After @PREIDI helped me to get 2nd in Savona i was happy to do some pace today for him. The Zoncolan is one crazy climb!´´, tweeted Geschke afterwards. Winner of the day Michael Rogers is the guy in yellow behind Geschke.

IMG_5945

A young supporter follows a bad example while Robert Kiserlovski works his way up.
A young supporter follows a bad example while Robert Kiserlovski works his way up.
Nairo Quintana rides Zoncolan with one hand.
Nairo Quintana rides the Zoncolan with one hand.
Aero is everything! Wout Poels on the right rides the Zoncolan in the drops.
Aero is everything! Wout Poels on the right rides the Zoncolan in the drops.

IMG_5969

Samuel Sanchez was the 2008 Olympic Champion and still wears golden shoes.
Samuel Sanchez was the 2008 Olympic Champion and still wears golden shoes.
2004 Giro winner Damiano Cunego just made the top 20 this year.
2004 Giro winner Damiano Cunego just made the top 20 this year.
Marc Goos silently rode to a very respectful 35th place in the general classification and 53th of the day.
Marc Goos silently rode to a very respectful 35th place in the general classification and 53th of the day.
Nacer Bouhanni, left in the red points jersey, gave up boxing for cycling. He won three stages and the points jersey.
Nacer Bouhanni, left in the red points jersey, gave up boxing for cycling. He won three stages and the points jersey.
True cycling supporters stay on the side of the road.
True cycling supporters stay on the side of the road.
Cheers for Slovenian Jan Polanc who finished his first Giro in 42nd place.
Cheers for Slovenian Jan Polanc who finished his first Giro in 42nd place.
Matteo Montaguti finished the day 82nd.
Matteo Montaguti finished the day 82nd.
Luka Mezgec is from Slovenia, as were many of the spectators on Monte Zoncolan. ,,Today the atmosphere on Zoncolan was AMAZING! Thank you all! #GooseBumps´´, he tweeted aftewards.
Luka Mezgec is from Slovenia, as were many of the spectators on Monte Zoncolan. ,,Today the atmosphere on Zoncolan was AMAZING! Thank you all! #GooseBumps´´, he tweeted afterwards. The next day he would win.
´Inspired by climbing´is written in small lettres on the shirt of Leonarde Duque. But Leonardo is no climber, he is a sprinter and he has the arms to prove it.
´Inspired by climbing´ is written in small lettres on the shirt of Leonarde Duque. But Leonardo is no climber, he is a sprinter and he has the arms to prove it.
Yukiya Arashiro is Japanese champion which bike supplier Colnago honored with a special paint job. The spectator on the right is Italian.
Yukiya Arashiro is Japanese champion which bike supplier Colnago honored with a special paint job. The spectator on the right is Italian.
Manuel Quinziato is a self-pronounced music addict but it´s very unlikely that there is music playing through his earplug.
Manuel Quinziato is a self-pronounced music addict but it´s very unlikely that there is music playing through his earpiece.
Tom Stamsnijder is the son of former cyclocross world champion Hennie. Hennie never rode the Giro, but did ride the Tour de France. Tom never rode the Tour de France, but did ride the Giro and Vuelta.
Tom Stamsnijder is the son of former cyclocross world champion Hennie. Hennie never rode the Giro, but did ride the Tour de France. Tom never rode the Tour de France, but did ride the Giro and Vuelta.
Marco Canola, on the right, does a ´Froomy´and looks at his stem. Canola won stage 13. Today he finished 132th.
Marco Canola, on the right, does a ´Froomy´and looks at his stem. Canola won stage 13. Today he finished 132th.
Even when you are on socks and you wear a Movistar shirt, when you see the immensely popular Stefano Pirazzo, you run and give him a push.
Even when you are on socks and you wear a Movistar shirt, when you see the immensely popular Stefano Pirazzi, you run and give him a push.
Stefano Pirazzi was in tears after he won 17.
Stefano Pirazzi was in tears after he won stage 17.
Nicola Boem from Italy finished on Monte Zoncolan 148th at 27.51 from winner Michael Rogers.
Nicola Boem from Italy finished on Monte Zoncolan 148th at 27.51 from winner Michael Rogers.
The largest cog on this spare wheel of the Cannondale team has 30 teeth.
The largest cog on this spare wheel of the Cannondale team has 30 teeth.
Suffering is the state of undergoing pain, as demonstrated by 23 year old Johan Le Bon; the 23 year old world junior champion of 2008.
Suffering is the state of undergoing pain, as demonstrated by 23 year old Johan Le Bon; the world junior champion of 2008.
In the background the Giant-Shimano rider is pointing to a mobile phone lying on the ground?
In the background the Giant-Shimano rider is pointing to a mobile phone lying on the ground?
Jos van Emden of the Belkin team got off his bike during Friday´s timetrial to ask his girlfriend to marry him. She said yes.
Jos van Emden of the Belkin team got off his bike during Friday´s timetrial to ask his girlfriend to marry him. She said yes.
A smile on Tyler Farrar´s face. On stage 10 he fell in the last corner, a dozen riders tumbled over him.
A smile on Tyler Farrar´s face. On stage 10 he fell in the last corner, a dozen riders tumbled over him.
Jetse Bol does a wheelie.
Jetse Bol does a wheelie.
Jetse Bol wheelieing.
Jetse Bol wheelieing.
Jetse Bol still wheelieing.
Jetse Bol still wheelieing. Jetse Bol finished last in the Giro 5 hours; 15 minutes and 19 seconds behind Nairo Quintana. It was the first Grand Tour for the 24 year old Dutchman.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How I saw the Tour of Slovenia

From last Thursday till Sunday Slovenia’s most important bicycle race was held. Here my favorite photos from my two visits to this year’s the Tour of Slovenia.

Radoslav Rogina from Croatia pushing himself to a solo win on the Vrsic mountain pass.
Radoslav Rogina from Croatia pushing himself to a solo win on the Vrsic mountain pass.

Me.
Me.

Spectators await the riders on top of the Vrsic mountain pass.
Spectators await the riders on top of the Vrsic mountain pass.

R0020434

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

R0020475

R0020481

R0020483

R0020485

Svein Tuft from Canada takes off for his winning ride in the opening time trial of the Tour of Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Svein Tuft from Canada takes off for his winning ride in the opening time trial of the Tour of Slovenia in Ljubljana.

IMG_3334

IMG_3333

IMG_3340

IMG_3342

IMG_3343

The provisional top three waits for the end of the time trial. Having ridden a top time, apparantly, isn't always a reason to smile. Sebastiaan Langeveld on the right would eventually finish 4th.
The provisional top three waits for the end of the time trial. Having ridden a top time, apparantly, isn’t always a reason to smile. Sebastiaan Langeveld on the right would eventually finish 4th.

IMG_3392

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Giro d’Italia – Visit to ‘Slovenian’ stages 10 and 11

One of the benefits of Slovenia is that the country is so close to Italy. For two days I have been immersed in the world of Giro d’Italia. The Italian cycling circus was the last two days close to the border of my new home country. It was an excellent opportunity to go and feel the vibe of this stylish race for a pink jersey.
Today the Giro started in the old mining hamlet Cave de Predil, just across the border. Yesterday the finish was on the Altopiano del Montasio where on the 20 % steep slopes riders got some help from the crowds. Hundreds of Slovenians cheered, screamed and lent a helping hand on the Altopiano del Montasio.

Stage 11 start hamlet Cave de Predil. Home of an old abandoned mine.
Stage 11 start hamlet Cave de Predil. Home of an old abandoned mine.
A military marching band in Cave de Predil.
A military marching band in Cave de Predil.

IMG_3223

IMG_3224

IMG_3225

IMG_3227

IMG_3231

IMG_3234

IMG_3236

IMG_3237

Cadel Evans struggled with his radio before the start of stage 11.
Cadel Evans struggled with his radio before the start of stage 11.

IMG_3244

IMG_3245

There is no shortage of attention for the classification leaders at the start of stage 11.
There is no shortage of attention for the classification leaders at the start of stage 11.

IMG_3249

IMG_3215

Hello, hello? Cadel Evans kept struggling with his radio.
Hello, hello? Cadel Evans kept struggling with his radio.

IMG_3262

IMG_3263

IMG_3273

The Cannondale team go for a coffee before the start.
The Cannondale team go for a coffee before the start.

IMG_3281

IMG_3288

IMG_3282

IMG_3289

IMG_3295

The old mining complex of Cave de Predil.
The old mining complex of Cave de Predil.

IMG_3298

IMG_3098

IMG_3100

IMG_3112

IMG_3121

IMG_3138

IMG_3144

A little help from countrymen for Slovenia's Robert Vrecer on stage 10.
A little help from countrymen for Slovenia’s Robert Vrecer on stage 10.

IMG_3151

IMG_3163

IMG_3166

IMG_3169

IMG_3171

IMG_3178

Grega Bole of Vacansoleil leads the bus in stage 10.
Grega Bole of Vacansoleil leads the bus in stage 10.

IMG_3198

IMG_3203

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ride to Litija makes ground shake
Postcard_of_Litija_(5)
We were three; my Dutch friends Jeroen, Robin and me and we were riding our bikes on a Sunday morning along the fast streaming river Sava. It was cloudy and it was fresh. The wind was so strong that it even brought back memories of our home country. But it was dry and after the bad weather spring brought so far, we were happy.

After we left the outskirts of Ljubljana the road meandered through small villages. We had the water on our left, wooded hills on our right. We took turns in the lead to maintain our speed in the headwind that blew dust and small branches our way.

Sooner than I expected we reached the small town of Litija. I doubt Litija, home to 7000 people, ever saw so many Dutch guys together. When we entered the small bar of the Spar supermarket to hydrate ourselves, the heads of all other guests turned our way. The day would never be the same in Litija.

We drank, paid and left. Through the hills we rode back to Ljubljana. And in Litija the ground was still shaking. 3.0 on the Richter Scale to be precise. We Dutch never go unnoticed.

http://www.sloveniatimes.com/moderate-earthquake-hits-near-ljubljana-no-damage-reported

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cycling against a hairdryer

The gloves are off; i'm ready for 2013.
The gloves are off; i’m ready for 2013.

In the Netherlands wind is wind. And in winter the wind is always chilly. In my mother tongue a föhn is a hairdryer.

Here in Slovenia a föhn (fen) is a wind from the mountains and that wind is always warm. In winter it can make snow disappear with the blink of an eye, in summertime the wind can blow wildfires at high speed through forests. Föhn winds are believed to be the cause of suicides, accidents, violence and headaches. But on Saturday the föhn brought me nothing but happiness when it treated Slovenia to an early spring.

Saturday started chilly. When I left Ljubljana by bike around noon it was 5 degrees Celsius and I was afraid my gloves weren’t up to the task of keeping my hands warm. The tyres made small drops of dirt from the wet road jump up on my bike and trousers. It was a true winter ride. But that lasted for ten kilometres. Then the wind picked up, clouds dispersed, and the temperature took a ten degree leap up. Grey became green, white became blue.

My hands were sweaty in no-time and I had to take the gloves off. I zipped my jersey open and rolled up my sleeves. The föhn blew the heavy scent of earth in my nostrils. Nature was waking up. It was January 5 and spring was here. I braced to pedal against the strong headwind and realised that for the first time on the bike I was happy with a headwind.

It’s now Monday and winter is back. The sky is grey and the temperature is 3 degrees Celsius. I hope for a swift return of the föhn.

Slovenia in the first weekend of January. Normally the green would be white here.
Slovenian hills in the first weekend of January. Normally the green would be white here.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Flatland
It’s funny, I emigrated 1300 kilometres to the south to a completely different country but I still live next to wetlands. The Zaanstreek, the Dutch region where I am from is surrounded by wetlands. It’s protected nature that I know very well because I always used to ride my bike through and around it. Here next to Ljubljana there is the Barje region, 160 square kilometres of wetland and just like the wetlands in the Zaanstreek a Natura 2000 protected area.

Almost every time I ride my bike now, I go round Barje. Not because it makes me feel so at home but because of the time of year. Any other direction would have me do a climb. That won’t really be a problem but descending will. The temperatures got down to around ten degrees Celsius on the ground and colder the higher you get, making the way back again very chilly. Flying down a mountain is neither nice nor safe when you are shivering. Especially in this time of year when the road surface is full of wet leafs and mud.

So with just two really small climbs, in the Netherlands they still would be categorized as mountains though, I enjoy the smoothness of riding on the plain these days. Today I made a round again and it was as grey outside as it also was in the Netherlands. The roads were for the most part as flat as they are in the Netherlands, I rode the same bike as I rode in the Netherlands, the goats I met spoke the same language as the goats in the Netherlands but as you can see in the pictures I took on the way the views in the Slovenian wetlands are different from the as-far-as you-can-see-view you have on the plains in the Zaanstreek.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Party in tights
,,They are dancing on the table in the other room’’, my girlfriend said. I couldn’t believe it but when I went to take a look I saw a stable full of people that were singing, screaming and dancing to the brisk tunes of traditional Slovenian Oberkrainer music. Osmice (eights) is much more than a culinary festival, it’s a party on the farm.

Back in the days that Slovenia was still part of the Habsburg Monarchy empress Maria Teresa only allowed farmers to sell their surpluses of wine and meats eight days a year. Although times have changed the tradition survived in the region around Trieste. Some farms still open their doors to the public for eight days and serve their homemade wines and meats.

After discovering the Kras-region by bike on saturday, we drove by car to the top of a hill close to the town of Sezana, at a stone’s throw from the Italian border. Through a winding narrow road we reached a farm that was surrounded by parked cars. Inside there were rows of long tables along which people drank from big unlabelled bottles of wine and ate from plates full of prosciutto and other homemade meats and cheeses.

The mood already seemed good when we sat at the only table that was still available. But things really started to get ecstatic after the band made its entrance a good half hour later. While I set my teeth in the sausage of the main dish, I heard the sounds of people going out of their mind in the adjacent stable. When I stood up to take a look, I also turned out to be quite an eye catcher. I saw people staring at my legs which were dressed in tights. I forget to bring my jeans and had to walk around my cycling pants. But on a farm where wine was consumed as water on a summer day and where the people were dancing on tables I fortunately wasn’t that much out of the ordinary with ‘sexy’ outfit.

A little taste of Osmice (around 6 pm):

Me, on the right, with my outfit for the day…
Not your average restaurant.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In a ditch

Afbeelding

The Slovenian roadside ditches. This sunny Sunday was all about ditches for me. And that was quite unexpected. Today I rode my first bicycle race in Slovenia. Although cycling didn’t have any priority for me this season, I was going for a podium spot. The distance for sure wouldn’t be a problem. This last race of the season, which was my first one, was only 21 (!) kilometres short. That’s hardly worth leaving house for but because I never raced in Slovenia before and it was only ten kilometres from home I set off with high hopes.

There were not more than thirty other amateur racers at the start. Some were already changeless when they rode in to each other at the start and had to put their foot on the ground. I lasted a few kilometres longer. A few fast kilometres on a slightly descending road that swirled through a green oasis of sunbathing grass.

I rode in last place of the peloton. That way I could avoid the falls people predicted me. And a fall there was. Where the road was straight, visibility was good, the speed was high and the peloton consisted of no more than twenty men, somehow some guys managed to hit the deck. From left to right the road was blocked by broken bikes and parts and injured men. And I dove in to the roadside ditch with my bike. One meter and a half I drove down, a few meters I rode over the dried bottom of the ditch and when I tried to ride up again the narrow tyres of my racing bike didn’t proof themselves sufficient to tackle the grass and mud of the slope. I had to step off, walk up to the road and when I was back on the bike I saw the peloton disappearing in the distance. I finished my first Slovenian race in a chasing group, far behind where I hoped to be; an anti-climax.

After the race I took my camera out to take some pictures of the pro-race. I cycled along the route of the race again, looking for a spot that would give a nice perspective on the action. When taking pictures I always like to go for the frog perspective. That often means i have to lie down or kneel. But not this time. The place that gave me the best view on the race happened to be in … a ditch.

26 kilometres too far
Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

When I came home and opened the door I immediately saw my girlfriend shaking her head. ,,I warned you’’, she said. ,,So you better don’t complain that you are tired.’’ In the meantime the pasta she prepared for me, was cooking. So that relentless she wasn’t. And she was right.

Today I went out for a bike ride to the Italian town of Trieste. Since two months now I’ve been living on Tržaška Cesta which means road to Trieste. Riding my bike to the seaside in Trieste was just something I had to do. When I told my girlfriend of the plan this week she called me a fool. ,,You will never find your way out of the centre of Trieste. I really wouldn’t do that if I was you’’, she said. So I did do it.

I started shortly after nine in the morning. It was still fresh. The first twenty kilometres were flat and a slight breeze was blowing towards me. ‘Good, tailwind, when I come back’, I thought. I saw hills and mountains, meadows and forests. I rode quite easy and made good progress. I still felt fresh when I crossed the Italian border after three hours of riding. I was in a completely different world by then. I breathed the sweet air of pinetrees on a hot and dry summer day. And I heard the chirping of crickets. Twenty minutes later I stood next to the sea in Trieste. I had done almost a hundred kilometres. More than expected, but 200 altogether would still be manageable.

Would I find my way back? No doubt. I just had to go up again. So when I saw a road rising in the centre I took it. Didn’t I notice that all the roads where leading up? Well, I guess I just thought the one I took was the right one. Quite soon I noticed it wasn’t. The things I passed in the descent, I didn’t see here. But I had to go up so as long as I went up, I would come out on the right road. I didn’t tough. And when I reached the end of my climb I saw in the distance the other mountain, next to the one I was climbing, with the road I had to be on. Ups.

I descended back into town. Searched and found the right way, drove in the opposite direction of oneway streets no to get lost again and I climbed back towards Slovenia. I wasted an hour and made an extra 26 kilometres. By now it had warmed up to thirty degrees, I was sweating and with each pedalstroke my legs hurted more. Out of Trieste the road is rising for twenty kilometres. When you are fresh it’s not a hard climb but fresh I wasn’t anymore.

On the way back I had to stop four times to get water for my bidon and I had to buy two colas. I never drank so much per kilometre. The last flat twenty kilometres were everlasting. A breeze was blowing against me. Indeed, the wind turned. ‘I would’ve been home now’, I thought when I reached the last 26 kilometres, remembering my detour through the suburbs and hills of Trieste. The thought made the pinches in my worn out legmuscles even stronger.

I rode 225 kilometres into a headwind and climbed 2500 vertical metres in total. I believe the wind wouldn’t have turned if I had paid more attention on getting the right route out of Trieste. When you ignore a warning you always get paid for it.

At home I waited a bit before I entered in an attempt to let the worst signs of fatigue leave my face. But the strain was obvious. I was naggered and my girlfriend noticed it the moment I stepped in. ,,I told you so.’’

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pasja Ravan: Love at first ride

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Pasja Ravan. The name sounds exotic to my Dutch ears. Every time I see it, I get a vision of an oriental belly dancer. But Pasja Ravan is not oriental nor is she belly dancer. Pasja Ravan is a 1000 meter high mountain near Ljubljana. And I climbed her yesterday by bike.

Pasja Ravan is a rock covered in green fields and dark forests. She is capricious like a woman though. Her slopes are then steep, then close to flat. When I reached the peak I fell in love with Pasja Ravan immediately. She made me feel on top of the world. Although the Alps I saw in the distance are far higher.

In the valley it was hot but here the cool breeze whispered sweet words. It was neither hot nor cold. There was a freshness that made me feel reborn; despite the almost ten kilometres I just rode uphill. There was a small chapel on the top with a wooden bench next to it. A tree threw its shade over the bench. I looked at my watch. It was two in the afternoon. Siesta time. I sat down on the bench, stretched and lay down. I never wanted to leave Pasja Ravan.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s