Day 11: Soca to Postojna, Slovenia
Jack Richards, August 8, 2011
In yesterday’s blog I reflected on the highs and lows of cycle touring. Today I hit the lowest point of this trip so far. After at least 5 inches of rain during the night (I used my pan as a rain gauge), I packed up this morning with military precision, segregating carefully my wet and dry possessions. I then pedalled away from camp with leg warmers and jacket on, the air temperature low and rain steady.
The Soca River was now a raging torrent – a remarkable shift from yesterday. Despite the rain I soon warmed up and felt ok, but then after 40km, near Tolmin, the rain increased in intensity until it was absolutely bucketing down. I have rarely seen rain like it. Soon I was drenched. When the rain was at its most intense, the road was turned into a river, the spray gushing on to my legs. On one hairpin bend, the rain running down was axle deep on my front wheel! I was swimming not riding. I was really uncomfortable on the bike, constantly shifting my position to relieve the pressure on my sore sit bones. My left knee has developed a niggle, my legs felt wooden and my lower back has incurred a slight injury during canyoning yesterday. These factors all combined to make riding my bike a real chore, I fought to find a rhythm which never came. I kept plodding on the slightly uphill gradient as I followed the river upstream, adding to the slow feeling. My pace wasn’t that terrible; I was putting in the miles, but it felt like really hard work. At the 90km mark I reached Idrija, a key marker for my day. I stopped and refuelled, majoring on coffee in the hope that it would perk me up.
After 40 minutes off the bike I resumed and decided to knock the pace back slightly. Around 100km in, I finally found some rhythm, the rain had ceased and my body got up to temperature. From then on, the kilometres ticked by easily. The scenery today was still fantastic, more mountains swathed in forests and blue-watered rivers. The cloud level for most of the day was very low, seemingly hanging just above my head. I passed through rural Slovenia far from the tourist trail.
After 145km I arrived here at Postojna where I am 4 km from the largest caves in Europe, which I plan to check out in the morning. I knew today that if I could get away from the mountains, the weather would be likely to improve. I am now only 100km north of the Dalmatian coast so surely the weather couldn’t be that terrible here?
This logic proved accurate and I am now sat outside in dappled sunlight, the horrid rain of this morning a distant memory. My plan was to get to camp in good time to let all my gear dry out. This has also worked to good effect. So now I feel I am out of the mountains and into cleaner, hotter air. I now head down to the Dalmatian coast and plan to hop between some of the Croatian islands. The next mountains I see should be those of Montenegro.