Tuesday 17th September Maribor To Celje. Unrelenting, Undulations. - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 3 - CycleBlaze

September 17, 2019

Tuesday 17th September Maribor To Celje. Unrelenting, Undulations.

This Czech couple and their dog ( in the trailer), are cycling to Croatia.
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It’s a clear sky as we head from the marble splendour of the Uni Hostel to the bridge across the Drava. Ann has spent some time with both maps.me and komoot plotting our route. In fact getting out of town is comparatively easy with her instructions and there are cycle lanes for a good part of the early stage. We follow the road numbered 430 for about half the day’s ride. When I emailed the Slovenian Cycle helpline for a suggested route, I received this cryptic reply: 

Dear Mr. Michael,

thank you for your request. Yes, the road numbered 430 is good for going south from Maribor.

Kind regards, N

Making our lunches for the day.
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The Plague memorial
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Drava from the bridge.
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At the town Slovenske Bistrica we change to a road numbered 612 which runs pretty much directly south. The red circle sign seems to indicate no trucks but for a while there are nothing but trucks, fortunately coming from the opposite direction. As in Austria, drivers are very careful and frequently hold back from passing if it cannot be done safely. We’ve never seen traffic police on these roads either.

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The Working Man
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Distant hills
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That’s where we’ve been.
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From this turn the route provides us with a couple of ‘taster’ hills by way of a warm up. When we reach Poljcane, and stop for lunch, we realise that we have entered the interior of a vastly undulating landscape. Blue hills stretch away to become bluer mountains in almost every direction. Yet small villages are plentiful and we pass through a different one every 5 kilometres or so. 

Once distant hills get closer.
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Looking back to the hills we climbed around earlier in the day.
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Just before Loce we turn off onto what seems a minor road despite the fact that it’s quite busy. We’re welcomed to this change of route by a sign warning us that the gradient is 14%! This soon has us walking. This also sets the pattern for the next 20 kilometres   although we manage to use granny gear for most of the remaining route. The road becomes quite heavy with after work traffic and we need to keep alert to what the traffic is doing especially since there’s no centre line and the road is a little narrow.  As we are passing through some kilometres of forest, we put on lights for increased visibility. 

Finally near Celje the route becomes flat and we also find a very good cycle path for the final 10 km. The outskirts of the city are heavily trafficked and there is much industry but once in the centre it is much quieter and we soon find the MCC Hostel and check in. Petra, at reception gives us a cyclists deal and a comfortable room. She had spent 15 mths on a working holiday in NZ. 

Celje Legends
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The hostel is quirky. Each room is decorated, by a local artist, according to a local legend, - not the stories you find in museums , they advise, in  the explanatory booklet. We have the Counts Of Celje, one of whom imprisoned his own son, as he did not approve of his choice of wife. The cafe and bar downstairs is busy with young people,  and the hostel hosts activities in the area. We appreciate the well equipped kitchen and make dinner. It feels as if we burned all our calories today. 

Later we walk through the heart of the old city and find that, like Maribor, the space has been given over entirely to pedestrians. It’s a warm, calm evening - pleasant to be able to wander at a slow pace and admire the beautiful old neoclassical style buildings.

Today's ride: 61 km (38 miles)
Total: 2,338 km (1,452 miles)

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