Oh How It Pissed Down: Pitomaca To Zagreb - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

November 20, 2013

Oh How It Pissed Down: Pitomaca To Zagreb

The time is six o six when I look at my watch. It is slow getting bright this morning, but it isn't raining which is a relief. Nature's call moves me to get out of the tent, when, it becomes apparent why the light in the tent is so dim. There's thick fog and I can barely see a hundred metres across the field. I return to the tent's warmth again, hoping it'll have begun clearing by the time I set off.

I still have three of yesterday's meat pastries from Lidl which I'll have for breakfast. They're too salty, though. It seems copious amounts of salt have been used in their manufacture, to prolong their shelf life, which is more evident this morning as they've begun to go off; though, I eat all three. My level of sodium will be extremely high for a few days if nothing else. And because I've little fuel to heat water, I make do with Pepsi to drink.

I wear my bright yellow rain-jacket and a yellow hi-visibility vest is stretched over the Ortlieb-bag on the rear-rake, not attire I'd usually wear in stealth camping situations. But, in the fog there is no worry about being seen while, pushing the bike along the grassy embankment of the water channel, back to the road.

The roar of traffic and headlights come through the gloom on reaching the road. Visibility is around two-hundred metres. Traffic is slow because of the fog and I feel the hi-vis-vest is picked up in the beam of headlights as, cars and trucks move sufficiently out on passing. Besides, the fog starts lifting, and before long, it clears leaving dark cloud cover and soon light rain starts falling.

The road bypasses Bjelovar where I pass a sign: Zagreb 82 km; and round twenty-five minutes later, I pass another: Zagreb 74... As it is now around nine thirty, I calculate that I'll arrive in the city about two. Meanwhile, the drizzling rain intensifies. The road is puddled and the truck-rut flooded. I'm glad the bike has mudguards as I glance down and see the water shimmy out either side. I don't have rain-pants, though. Rainwater runs off the rain-jacket, down on my thighs and the tights become soggy wet and cold. My shoes are saturated, socks and ankle-lycra soaked.

I am on the look-out for an ATM. There isn't any at the petrol stations I pass, nor, is there any at two Lidl supermarkets I call at during the course of the morning. Then approaching midday, I'm passing a KONZUM hypermarket and think surely there's an ATM here. There is.

It's a bit tricky the first time the card is in the machine after crossing a border into a new currency zone. It's well language choice comes up on the screen when a foreign card is entered, but it helps to know how many units of local money there is to the Euro, or other hard currency. I touch the screen on 1300. I don't know how many Euros that is, but when six two-hundred bills and a one-hundred bill slide out the hack, it feels like a lot of money.

Back to life. Back to reality..... Is the background music when I enter the Hypermarket. At the hot food counter, I use sign-language to ask the woman to give me a BOREK, a cheese or meat filled puff-pastry of Turkish origin. This one is cheese. I fill a small bag of satsumas and pick up a bottle of Sprite and head for the check-out with: Whatta man. Whatta man..... The piped music now. My shop costs twenty-six. The thirteen-hundred is a lot of money.

It had eased off raining before I came in, but coming back out, the rain is coming down hard and bouncing of the concrete outside the shelter of the overhang in front. I sit down by the bike to eat the borek and hope the rain will have eased by the time I've finished. Meanwhile shoppers dash from the Hypermarket entrance to cars in the car park.

Nobody can say, I can't be bothered getting the camera out when it's raining.
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The supermarket car-park.
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It keeps on raining hard, no sign of it letting up, so I set off and lurch onwards. I pass a hotel and wonder about the price, but there's not much more than twenty kilometres left to the city-centre.

The road for Zagreb becomes a motorway; no cycling sign, so I divert into and through satellite town Sesvete, then see a sign: Centar. The road is single-carriageway, concrete with a straightedge at the side, to the inside of which, there's a broken narrow shoulder. Although it's flooded, potholes brimming over with water, I decide to ride in it as it's a wonder the steady flow of passing cars and trucks can see me in the gloom. And because I cannot see the potholes with the water, I ride slowly and try being careful, but, not careful enough, as I go down in a puddle and the front wheel runs against the straightedge of the concrete. The bike slides and I take a tumble. The contents of the tool-bag on the top-tube, are catapult out with the shudder and scatter over the road. It's well, at this moment, the traffic is held up at traffic-lights, as I lift the bike up and gather up the inner-tube, tyre-levers and multi-tool. The left brake-lever has been pushed inwards, but is easily pushed back. My right shin is stinging. When I'm ready to go again, I pull up the tights and see a bloody graze. The lights have changed and the traffic comes on and a car pulls level to see if I'm alright.

Shaken, I ride on upon the sidewalk. I no longer trust the shoulder and a short distance further it's replaced by tramlines which are just as dangerous. It's a long way and approaching the centre, it's slower negotiating through crowds of commuters at tram-stops.

Once in the pedestrianize central square I find a hostel instantly, aptly called Chillout.

Football stadium on the run into Zagreb.
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Today's ride: 109 km (68 miles)
Total: 7,977 km (4,954 miles)

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