Loop ride to Zminj - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 18, 2018

Loop ride to Zminj

We enjoyed a unique experience this morning at our lodging in Motovun (Guesthouse Villa Mariia; highly recommended): breakfast!  It really is the first time that meals have been available at our lodging here in Croatia.  And a great meal it is, served just outside our room on a patio beneath a grape arbor.  OJ, coffee, terrific croissants, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, yogurt.  There’s no real view from our table, but on the walkway just below is a sweeping overview of the valley - or rather, of the fog bank it’s hiding under.  Our hostess tells us that this is the normal morning condition here.

Looking down from Motovun
Heart 7 Comment 0
We have to do this for the next two days also? Well, if we must, we must.
Heart 2 Comment 0
After breakfast we walked back to the precipice for a second look at the fog, and remembered to take a panorama this time. It still blankets the valley, but isn’t as dense as an hour earlier. It will all burn off before long.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Today’s ride begins with a walk - down the steep cobblestone road for about two hundred yards until reaching asphalt.  It’s a bit hard on the way down keeping the bikes under control, but at least we’re in the shade and have gravity working for us.  The walk back up later on will be a different story of course.

Today’s ride is a loop south to Zminj, a town we passed by five days ago on our way from Labin to Rovinj.  We’re going that direction mainly due to topography and the road network - this is the best direction to bike away from Motovun if we don’t want to repeat our ride on the Paranzana Trail.  Also, going this direction gives us an easier ride by preserving some altitude because the road south bottoms out at about 400’.  

The first half of today’s loop is really a fine ride.  After the first few miles we leave the main road for another of the beautiful, quiet paved lanes that criss cross the Istrian interior.  We begin by dropping to the valley in front of town, but after climbing out the other side most of the remaining  ride to Zminj is an idyllic, lazy roll through vineyards, orchards and forests.

You’d think it would be easier walking down, and it is. Barely.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The fog is gone by the time we start biking. We’re looking here at the start of our ride - after dropping into the valley we’ll climb out on the road opposite.
Heart 2 Comment 0
It’s time. I’ve been wondering for the last few days how soon the harvest would begin.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Looking back at Motovun from across the valley
Heart 5 Comment 0
The jungle is taking over.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Inland Istria just keeps handing us these wonderful cycling roads.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Squash curing on the roof of an outbuilding. The church behind is in the village of Sveti Ivan.
Heart 4 Comment 0

After about fifteen miles we come to Tinjan, an attractive larger village with enough to see that we stop and look around awhile.   Tinjan was once a fortified town that supplied some of the security for the region.  The walls and castle are gone now, but a fine church and bell tower remains along with some beautiful old stone structures.  Most immediately attractive though is a small park that sits at the edge of town, perched atop a precipice overlooking the valley far below.

The overlook from a small park in Tinjan. When we leave here we’ll glide down into this valley and then climb out the far side.
Heart 1 Comment 0
In the village park, Tinjan. I wonder how old this table and stools are? One reference I found describes this as the table around which the county rulers and judges sat.
Heart 3 Comment 0
In Tinjan
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Tinjan
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Tinjan
Heart 1 Comment 0
I’m off to a late start on the cute dog photos, but catching up fast. Fortunately there’s no shortage of subject matter.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Dropping from Tinjan, which appears on the ridge above it. We’re biking toward the town because we’re in the middle of a delightful serpentine.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Tinjan, from the valley below it. I hope you appreciate this shot, because it didn’t come cheap. I stopped at the bridge at the bottom of the descent to take it, losing all my momentum for the climb out.
Heart 2 Comment 0

This one is actually from the day before, because I forgot to post it:

Leaving Tinjan, we drop to the floor of the valley below on a delightful lane with a double hairpin halfway down.  Then, up again to about the same level, and then we gradually climb for a few more miles until we come to Zminj.  We stop for lunch here, picking up snack material at a bakery and market and consuming them sitting in the shade on a stone wall.

On the ascent. Rachael isn’t in sight, because she was wise enough to not stop at the bottom.
Heart 1 Comment 0
In Zminj, a town we stopped at five days ago on route to Rovinj.
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Zminj, checking out a bakery for a possible lunch. Impossible here, because it’s closed; as it was two days earlier. Plenty of good options just around the corner though.
Heart 2 Comment 0

The ride back to Motovun is a bit less idyllic than the front half of the ride was.  We still get to enjoy a few more miles of cycling on quiet wooded lanes, but before long we merge on a busier road as we approach Pazin, the largest of the interior towns and a commercial center.  It’s not bad really, but not quite enjoyable either.  We’re happy to leave it a few miles past town; and not long after that we’re atop the ridge facing Motovun again and mentally preparing ourselves for another push up the cobblestones.

This really is great country for fungi fans.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Bolete? Let’s eat!
Heart 2 Comment 0
The croci are a bit different here - a bit larger than we see back home.
Heart 3 Comment 4
Andrea BrownThis is an autumn crocus, or colchicum.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownAutumn and spring crocuses are different species? I didn’t know that.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Andrea BrownCompletely different species. There are some (true) crocuses that bloom in fall but they look like the more typical spring ones. Colchicum sends up their leaves first in summer, which die down and then the flowers appear this time of year, much larger and differently shaped than crocus.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownI didn’t pick up from your first comment that these aren’t actually crocuses. How interesting - sort of like the poppy/horn poppy thing. Thanks, teach!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
A few plums
Heart 3 Comment 0
Worth a second look
Heart 4 Comment 0
Deja vu all over again. Easier without the panniers, but still tough enough.
Heart 2 Comment 0
We enjoyed watching our neighbors’ son as we ate dinner in Motovun. Quite an appealing child - reflective, seemingly interested in everything, well mannered.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Reading the menu, trying to choose. Will it be the black truffles tonight, or the white?
Heart 5 Comment 4
Jen GrumbyPerhaps what he/she is really thinking is like, "Where's the Velveeta?"
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonI think not. He looks much too distinctive for Velveeta. Definitely a truffle cat.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Shawn AndersonSeeing as the ears are slightly flattened and the eyes are concentrated, maybe reading..... Catfish!
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Shawn AndersonNow THAT’s funny. And much more likely than truffles or Velveeta.
Reply to this comment
2 months ago
Motovun is well regarded for its views, but it’s really most famous for its truffles.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Walking back to our room after dinner. Mister Moon is only about half full tonight, in spite of how he looks here. BTW, we forgot the flashlight again tonight but are getting better at fumbling around to find our room in the dark.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 49 miles, 4,300’; for the tour, 681 miles, 50,200’

Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 686 miles (1,104 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 6
Comment on this entry Comment 0