To Olimje - Skipping About the Continent - CycleBlaze

June 27, 2022

To Olimje

My destination today was Olimje and the Olimje Monastery, a former castle that is now home to Franciscan Friars. The challenge was to find the least painful route through the Sava Hills to Olimje. I could perhaps avoid the worst by taking Hwy 219 that ran up along the Croatian border, but it looked to be a fairly heavy trafficked road. Michaela, of the touring Austrians I’d met in Novo Mesto, shared their route from Olimje to Brežice, with the advice not to use it – and they had e-bikes. If I were to do their route in reverse, it would entail 4430 ft of climbing over 31 mils, with grades up to 29% - no thank you, advice taken. After fiddling around with RWGPS and GoogleMaps Street View, I came up with a route that climbed only 2815 ft over 24 miles, with max grade predicted to be 13.5% - not too bad. Of course the X-factor was the heat. Slovenia is experiencing the heat wave affecting much of central and eastern Europe, with temperatures in the above 90°F. I planned an early-ish start to minimize the chance of heat stroke, and rolled out of Brežice at 8:30..

The first few miles were pleasant riding as I left the Sava River Valley and began wending my way through the  lower hills. From then on, the ride was mostly up, with some terrifying downs, and delightful stretches in between. The scenery was storybook - steep slopes sprinkled with farmsteads and covered with assorted row crops, fruit trees, or vineyards - each a bit different but largely the same.   The hillsides steepened as I made my way north, and some sections were brutal, especially in the hot sun. As they day progressed, hike-a-bike and and/or rest stops became more frequent, with almost any patch of shade a welcome excuse for a brief stop. 

Overall, the hills and heat combined for a tough day on the road. But I’ve become a bit more mindful of my physical well-being over these last few weeks and took lots of breaks, downed lots of water and electrolytes, and made it to Olimje without incident. The following pictures do not tell a chronological story, but rather are grouped into loose themes that attempt to capture a memorable day on the road.

Landscapes - up, down, and back

Heading for the Sava Hills
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Orchards were common along the lower hillsides
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Getting a bit higher and steeper
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Zig-zagging up
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Looking down - on the descent into Buče
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At the top of the climb out of Buče
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An early look back
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A later look back to the Sava Valley
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A look back
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A look back
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The Glorious in Between - neither up or down

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Small buildings 

Woodshed on high
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Small house with a big view
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Stone shed with wooden roof
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Main Street, Podsreda
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Yellow chapel
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 Blessed shade

Wooded section - I wanted more
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Even Vivien George looks tired
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Rest stop visitors

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Olimje is a very small hamlet, with a only few houses and the monastery. I had booked a guesthouse less than a mile from the Olimje and I arrived about 2:30, in plenty of time to freshen up and visit the monastery before dinner. However, the mid-afternoon heat was oppressive and I was pretty well beat. Deciding to postpone my visit until morning, I retreated to my room to rest up and do some journaling, successfully ignoring the exuberant elementary school children who were staying at the guesthouse while on their school trip. The guesthouse was closed for dinner, but they agreed to feed me as the chef was already preparing a take-away dinner for the school group. I got what the children ate - a good hearty meal of tomato soup, salad, chicken and rice, and a crepe desert. I had a great time visiting with the young cook Aljez, talking about cycling, basketball, and the hard work ethic of Slovenians. It was a relaxing and enjoyable end to a hard but rewarding day on the bike.

Aljez, a huge cycling and basketball fan who was a great cook and conversationalist
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Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 1,600 miles (2,575 km)

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Rachael AndersonI’m impressed! The heat and the climbs sound hard but I’m glad there want anything dangerous.
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1 month ago
Suzanne GibsonAnother challenging ride!
I see this was a week ago - wondering where you are now.
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1 month ago