Cycling Europe Day 36: Mean Motorists

All it takes to ruin someone’s day is a few mean motorists, a ride longer than 100 km, and many very steep hills.

I’ve had an awful day.

It all started as I was navigating myself out of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. An idiot motorist intentionally swerved into me to scare me. I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to make a point. I shouldn’t be on the road. I should be on the sidewalk-bike-path.

I’ve been generally avoiding those paths in every country I’ve been in. They are always very poorly maintained: full of cracks and potholes. They also twist and turn and you have to cycle up and down curbs. If I were city cycling, going on a short errand with my bike, they would be acceptable. But when I’m on a road bike with 15kg of weight needing to get from one city to the next, they are useless.

So this idiot swerves into me. Nothing happens. I’m cycling slowly because I’m trying to figure out directions. He did not frighten me but I did get upset. He had to stop at the traffic light just ahead, so I maneuvered myself to the back of his car, knocked on the back window, and shook my finger at him (it gets worse..I’m so useless at spur of the moment anger). I then went to his window and told him, as he rolled down the window, “That’s not nice!”

He started to tell me I am supposed to be on the sidewalk. I told him, “I have a long road!” (that will tell him!). He gave me a long lecture about how I had a sidewalk to cycle on and that it would be bad for me if the police caught me. The guy spoke very fluent English. I started to say, “If I’m wrong….” when the light turned green. As he headed off I said, “You, you, you…” and managed to yell at the back of his car, “You shouldn’t try to kill people!”

That whole episode went very differently in my head shortly afterwards. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 35: Gorgeous Slovenia

Slovenia! I did not know what to expect and you absolutely took my breath away! What

There was no border between Italy and Slovenia.

There was no border between Italy and Slovenia.

a beautiful country.

Let’s just start by saying that Slovenia is a safe haven for Frequently Peeing Female Cyclists (FPFCs) like myself. There are more than enough small side roads and big trees to hide behind. It was heaven today. I just stopped whenever I felt the urge even beginning to reveal itself. Heaven!

I started my morning in Gorizia, Italy. I already knew I was very close to the border with Slovenia. But, man! One minute I was in Gorizia cycling down one of its quiet streets lined with houses and a school, and suddenly I’m in Slovenia. There was no border. One was just the continuation of the other. Two cities, two countries, as one.

Almost immediately I found myself heading up into the mountains. It was so beautiful,image so green, so quiet. I passed tiny, tiny villages the whole way. There might be four houses in one village, eight in another, twenty in yet another. They were just really nice small houses in the mountain. What a way to live.

The road gradually got steeper and steeper as I headed upwards. Yesterday I asked the hotel receptionist how steep the road was. He said, “You have cycled in the Alps before?” I said, “No. But I did the Pyrenees.” He said, “Phttt. Then it will be nothing.”

I have no idea why I said I “did” the Pyrenees. I crossed them. From what was probably the least Msteep point in the whole range. Today’s climb was not phttt just as I have not “done” the Pyrenees. I went from sea level to 815 meters. Fifty of today’s 90km were uphill. That’s not phtt. Yet it was doable. And if I compare today’s climb with others I’ve done on this trip, there is at least one other that was more difficult and maybe two others that were the same.

I was taken aback by Ljubljana. I really did not know what to expect. I could live in this town. It’s beautiful. It’s one of those few towns I’d love to come back to with my husband, along with Girona, Spain and Verona, Italy.

Ever since I started this trip, when I’ve cycled into a town on a Sunday afternoon, they have all been dead like ghost towns. Ljubljana was absolutely alive. There were rallies, singing, dancing, shops and restaurants open, people strolling. It’s wonderful!

Take a look at this video. I assume this is what Slovenians normally do on Sunday afternoons. Isn’t it wonderful?

Today I got soaking wet, freezing cold, and climbed for what seemed like forever. Today was a perfect day.