July 13, 2013
Distance: 32.7 miles Climbing: 1853.7 ft
Our plan for the day was very simple. Publish a few blog posts and drink some espressos at the campground café then ride to a campground on the island Pag. We were able to accomplish our first goal with no problems, however the second part of the plan got screwed up. Big time.
We followed a quiet road along the ocean, passing a number of inviting swimming locations, before joining the main highway.
Once the shoulder ran out, things took a turn for the worst. We were out with the traffic that didn’t seem to be paying attention to us. There were lots of tourists driving cars pulling campers who didn’t seem to realize how wide their loads were and came dangerously close time after time, which caused us to periodically ride in the ditch. After less than a mile of this we realized we needed another plan.
At a roadside convenience store, we stopped for a cold drink, an ice cream and to discuss our options. Chandler pulled out of big paper map of Croatia and we realized we were going to be on the same highway the whole way to Pag and down it’s entire length to reach our destination. That was not going to be any fun, so our plans for today and the next couple days quickly got tossed.
The closest major city was Zadar, where we could potentially take a ferry to one of the islands. The other option was to go back into the mountains. The beach was calling to us, so we chose Zadar and island hopping.
We jumped back on the bikes and pedaled as quickly as we could to reach the secondary road that would lead us to the city. Zadar wasn’t too far, so we had a nice mellow ride. After the highway, the road we were on seemed like a dream and we were enjoying ourselves again.
Once in Zadar, we looked for a café or bar or anywhere that might have internet, so we could look up the ferry schedule. Instead, we found the kiosk to buy ferry tickets. That was lucky. So, Chandler went inside to figure were we could go and when while I guarded the bicycles.
It took a little while, but we finally found a ferry that would take us and the bikes the next day to Mali Losinj. This is an island pretty far north, but the ferry system in Croatia is pretty anti-cycling- bikes are officially not allowed on the catamaran ferries which seemed like the most popular way to get around the island. We heard that if you ask the captain nicely sometimes they will let you on, but it seemed like a big hassle to have to cross our fingers every time we tried to get on a ferry.
Chandler found us a campground right in town which at 23 euro plus 7 euro for internet (which we declined) seemed expensive, but there were enough trees for us to put up our hammocks. We went to bed early because we would have to wake up at 6am make it to the ferry terminal on the south side of the city on time. Luckily for us, there was a large group of German teenagers, drinking and yelling in the campground until 1am.
Our vision of having a relaxing time riding along islands in coastal Croatia had been turned upside down. We hoped that Mali Losinj would be more laid back and less heavily trafficked.