To Kočevje - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

June 23, 2022

To Kočevje

I woke a little concerned about today’s ride to Kočevje. It was forty-plus miles, most of them over regional roads that would probably have a fair amount of traffic. Of course there would be climbing, and rain was predicted for later in the afternoon. As things turned out, it was indeed a long ride and there was a lot of climbing, but it was perhaps my best cycling day in Slovenia to date.

 I got off to a pretty early start, a little before nine, with a focus on putting away the miles. No looking around town or stops for photos, so my only memory of Postonja will be the Caves and the Cave Park. The route through town was pretty straightforward, some climbing and then down to Rakek where I picked up regional Hwy 212 and headed generally west toward Ribnica.  This is where the not-fun began, a steady stream of traffic and no shoulder to speak of. Most concerning, this was the regional highway that I thought would have the least amount of traffic. After only three miles on Hwy 212, I pulled over in Cerknica to calm myself. It was there I noticed the bike shop.

 My handlebars had seemed a little wobbly since yesterday afternoon – I thought maybe the problem was load balance, but rearranging things didn’t seem to help. I was wondering about a headset adjustment, but really didn’t know how that problem might manifest, or what all it entailed to fix it. But here I was, fortuitously stopped at a bike shop, so I took the opportunity to see if they could take a look at Vivien George. My visit to Bike Center Cerknica changed the course entire day in the most positive way. First, my headset was a little loose and the guys tightened it at no charge. Then I whined about Hwy 212 and asked if there were other route options. We started by looking/pointing at the current route on my phone, but I soon got out my laptop and Tine devised a whole new route to Kočevje.  It did involve some gravel, but he assured me that the road was in good shape, and that it was shaded. I was sold. I loaded the “bike shop route” into my phone, after thanking everyone profusely, I left with free energy gels and a promise to email them when I’d arrived in Kočevje. A very, very big shout-out to Tine, Nejc and Polona at Bike Center Cerknica – they could not have been more helpful or more generous.

A brief look at Rakek
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The clouds look like there might be rain later today
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Nejc and Tine checking out Vivien George's headset
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The wonderful crew at Bike Shop Cerknica - Tine, Polona, and Nejc
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The bike shop route was brilliant. I said good-bye to Hwy 212 and veered up onto a small parallel road from which I could better appreciate the surrounding landscape. The pavement continued for two miles, followed by four miles of a well-packed dirt road that climbed through woodlands and open fields up onto another of the many plateaus of the Lower Carniola region of Slovenia. I was back on pavement shortly before reaching the small village of Radlek, where I stopped for water at the village pump. The next ten miles on were a delight, winding through a series of small, red-roofed villages on local roads. The route kept climbing, though nothing too arduous, until just past Žimarice where Hwy 653 took me on a long, sweeping downhill to the town of Sodražica. 

A look over at the countryside surrounding Cerknico
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Outside Cerknico
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Finding gravel and heading up
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A look that says "I'd rather be laying here with flies on my face than cycling up a gravel road like you" To which I replied - "I'd rather be cycling anywhere than lolling around with flies on my face"
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The route included part of the Krpanova Pot, a cycling/hiking road named for Martin Krpan - a fictional hero based on oral tradition of the Inner Carniola region
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As Tine said, there was plenty of welcome shade along the gravel section of the route
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Views opened up as I came to the top of the gravel climb
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A wonderful level section of gravel on the way to Radlek
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On the way to Radlek
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The pavement began at a small farm just outside Radlek
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In Radlek, at the center of it all
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These two houses in Radlek exemplify many in the small settlements of Slovenia, where there is a mix of extant and refurbished homes. I especially like the six-point star openings on the non-rehabbed house
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An example of the many refurbished/new houses in Slovenia with pastel colors. I think the contrasting stripes may be a newer trend.
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A wonderful stretch on the very low traffic Hwy 748 to Nova Vas
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Approaching Nova Vas
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Approaching Studenec na Blokah, with a view of my road ahead visible in the open area in the center of the photo
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A look back toward Studenec na Blokah and where I've been
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A view across to the village of Topol
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On the way to Žimarice
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A hay house?
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Approaching Žimarice, near the top of the final climb
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Views near Žimarice
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The last part of the climb was through the forest - bringing a welcome bit of shade
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Safely down the hill and into Sodražica
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The last fifteen miles from Sodražica to Kočevje were about the longest, flattest stretch I’d encountered since my first day in the Ljubljana basin. After a brief stop in Ribnica for a look at the two-towered Parish Church of Saint Peter, the idyllic journey on local roads ended and I was on a busy regional road, Hwy 106. Fortunately, a separated bike path began about five miles outside of Kočevje that took me into the heart of the town.

Heading toward Ribnica, with the two towers of the Parish Church of Saint Peter visible in the distance
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On the flat farm road heading to Ribnica
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The Parish Church of Saint Peter in Ribnica
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Lambs at play - at first I though the black lamb was hurt and the others were nudging her to get up
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But she soon sprouted up and found her mother's teat
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Kočevje is a good-sized town on the Rinča River at the edge of the Krokar primeval forest. It is a center for all sorts of activities including cycling and, for the more adventurous, bear and lynx tracking. In fact, I was staying at the Bearlog Hostel - a very nice and reasonable lodging that I can recommend. The rain had held off all day, but clouds were definitely threatening as I headed over to dinner at a local pizza restaurant. It started drizzling as I ordered, and was a full downpour during my meal. But the skies had cleared by the time I finished, and I made it back to the Bearlog Hostel a dry, full, and very happy cyclist.

There's a storm brewing
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The Parish Church of St. Fabian and Boštjan and St. Jernej - on the way to dinner
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The Parish Church of St. Fabian and Boštjan and St. Jernej - on the way back from dinner
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The Rinča River after the storm
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Today's ride: 48 miles (77 km)
Total: 1,508 miles (2,427 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 1
Rachael AndersonGlad you found the bike shop and got good advice on routing!
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