Day 131 - Mostar
21 April 2022
This was our toughest ride so far. On paper, it was long, 90 km. There was a good downhill and flat riding on quiet roads. Tough going but we are ride fit. The forecast was for showers. I am not a fan of riding in the rain, but a few showers should not be a problem.
Up early. Rain. To be expected. We shower and grab some breakfast. Pack our gear and load the bikes. The rain is more than a drizzle, but not heavy. It has been raining nonstop for an hour. It doesn’t stop all day.
“I think that the world should be full of cats and full of rain,
that's all, just cats and rain,
rain and cats, very nice, good night.”
― Charles Bukowski
The 90 km ride was based on the first 40 km of the Ciro. Mostly tar and flat easy riding. We head off on a gravel track. It changes to tarmac and it easy going. After two kilometers we are back on gravel.
We coast along and hit a construction site. A new road is being built. Our well signed track takes us into a scaffolded tunnel. Dead end. We backtrack and find another gravel road. We can’t seem to find the trail on the other side.
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ― William S. Burroughs
We finally link up. We see the sign for Mostar, but it is in the opposite direction to our GPS. There is another sign to Mostar in the correct direction. A man comes to the window and explains the way we are facing is longer. He tries to communicate something else about the path we choose. The short one. But it is lost on us. This might have been our mistake.
It goes from gravel to rocks. The rocks they lay railway on, but bigger. We wear thongs on wet days to keep shoes dry. The occasional rock spits up and hits your foot. When I tore a pedal off in Portugal it was replaced with metal ones. They have teeth that snag your heel if you slip.
It is slow bumpy riding and the wheels slip out when they spit a rock. It is still raining. It is cold, 7˚C. We push on. It is very tough going. We are 300 m above sea level and the scenery is stunning despite the rain. The tunnels are good fun. But the track is tortuous. It requires constant concentration. Especially considering there are sheer cliffs on either side.
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” ― John Muir
I fall behind for some reason. I come around a bend and Shell has had a fall. Correction. Old people have a fall, and she informs me she had a stack. We check her over. A few bruises, but she is OK.
Soon after the stack Shell gets a puncture. We are running tubeless tyres. The tyre quickly self seals and all we need is to do is pump it back up. Honestly, if we were running traditional tyres and we had to drop the rear wheel and replace its tube, it would have taken hours. We are big fans of the tubeless tyres.
On it goes for over 40 km. The day is passing and we are limping through the distance. I am starting to point out these issues more frequently. Shell refers to this as whining.
“I know it's important to do more than just complain when there's something you don't like. You need to try to do something about it, or you're nothing but a whiner.” ― Jean Ferris
We finally drop off the rail line onto a road and grab a break. Shell changes from the poncho to her wet weather jacket.
Note: The poncho has history. A day off tomorrow, I will talk about it then.
The rain keeps coming but the riding is now easy. With 20 km to go we hit a corner store. It is 4.00 pm. We have been riding since 9.30 am and have not eaten. We grab some gummy bears and a chocolate bar. I feel better for the food.
We follow the Ciro. It shadows the Neretva river. It is fast flowing and bursting its banks. It has a similar colour to the ocean in Montenegro. We find a bridge to take a photo. They canoe here. Madness. Leanda would be ‘hold my Cristal, give me my raft’.
“The headlong stream is termed violent
But the river bed hemming it in
Is termed violent by no one.”
― Bertolt Brecht
Those last 20 km were taxing, but not difficult. The hardest part was keeping the GPS running. When it rains the screen thinks you are touching it. It keeps adding stops or ending the tour. It is a pain.
We arrive at our place. Drenched, filthy, and beat up. Shell has a swollen eye from the stack. She has scratches on her arms and legs. Our host points out my heel is bleeding. It has been all day. The cut must be deep. We are absolutely exhausted.
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest.” - Henry David Thoreau
Shower and head out for food. I am physically tired. Mentally I am trashed. I have this sadness coming over me. I have felt it before after long physical and mental work. Food helps. I want to order everything off the menu. Shell pulls me back.
A tough day. But like all tough days, there is satisfaction in completing it. Tough roads. Rain all day. A flat and a stack. Good times.
Rest tomorrow. More rain is forecast.
Today's ride -