Over the past couple months I’ve ridden some pretty bizarre zigzags through Europe, taking me north, south, east and west. So I thought it would be nice to share with you the most painful of these detours; my three day venture into the Slovenian Alps. Truth be told I’ve got myself hooked on mountains, and to avoid winter in Central Asia I’ve repeatedly scanned maps to find challenging roads to take me up into the clouds. In the video you will see footage of the mountain road from Kranjska Gora across Vrsic (1611m) to Log v Trenti, spanning 24 kilometres and comprising fifty hairpin bends. The road was built by Russian POWs in WW1, and is open on average just seven months of the year. I think the pain of the four hour 14% ascent was captured on one of the switchbacks at one minute twenty …
My first view of Europe was actually in 2006 from the seat of a plane flying over the Alps at sunrise. At the time the sun glistened on the snow capped peaks, and I gazed down wondering what it would be like to explore such a rugged landscape from the ground. On the bike I was lucky enough to cycle into both the Julian and Kamnik-Savinja Alps, tackling five summits that ranged between 1096 and 1611 metres above sea level. I was captivated by the contrasting landscapes between the regions, and surprised at how arid the Julian Alps were compared to the lush slopes and valleys of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. In the alpine village of Solcava I came across this poem in a local exhibition, written by Josa Vrsnik and Robanov Joza, and I think it explains the feelings of elation experienced at reaching a summit on two wheels:
When I lay my eyes on you, fair peak
I wave goodbye to the sorrow and bleak
When I step on your rugged crest
My heart is full and I can rest.
My spirit here is given wings
To butterflies and stars it clings
In blissful happiness it floats
Free as a bird upon it gloats.
My mind runs wild here on your slopes
Gives rise to my happiness and hopes
The whole world is in my palm
I feel the Creator and his calm.
Logarska Dolina, Kamnik-Savinja Alps
On the waters edge of Lake Bled at dawn, Julian Alps
The view from the summit of Vrsic (1611), The Julian Alps