Bale - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 20, 2020

Bale

Buzet, Buje, and now Bale.  We’re definitely on the Istrian B-circuit this week.  

We had originally planned to spend two nights in Bale  and take a day ride down to Pula, but with the coming change in weather we decided to drop the second day and return to Labin before the first of the thunderstorms rumbles in.  With this in mind, we opt to take the most direct route to Bale today, planning to arrive early enough to enjoy a relaxed stroll through town.

First though, across the street again to Atrij Cafe for its strong WiFi and stronger coffee.  A good combination, in my estimation.

Sunday morning at Atrij Cafe. Always a good time for coffee.
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The ride begins with an easy 7 miles, dropping back down to the Mirna River in a reversal of the end of our ride arriving in Buje two days ago.  After that, there’s a roughly matching category 3 climb up the opposite side of the river that climbs a thousand feet in about four miles.  It’s a very steady, nearly uniform grade that we climb comfortably.  We’re encouraged along the way when we see a solo male rider approaching from behind.  We’re surprised that it takes him a long time to close the gap, and then once he’s past we keep in range all the way to the top.  It really helps having a lighter load!

A last look at Buje before hitting the road. Looks like another beautiful day to ride, one of the last like this we’ll see for awhile.
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We’re backtracking south here, dropping from Buje back to the Mirna River, reversing our ride into Buje two days ago. So, we’ve seen this view of the Adriatic before. Still nice though.
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I think the terraces are for new plantings of olive trees.
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One more look back to the sea before leaving the ridge.
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We’re on the south side of the Mirna now, climbing up the other side. This is a view inland to Motovun.
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The next ten miles are pretty nondescript as we bike along the top of a plateau through largely wooded terrain with limited visibility.  Easy, relaxed riding if not the most dramatic scenery we’ve grown accustomed to.

Nothing special here - just a waypoint along the road with a nice secluded path into the trees.
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Heading south, slowly dropping toward Lim Fjord.
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The final third of the ride presents us with another deep notch to traverse.  Really, you can’t get much of anywhere in Istria without cutting across one of these gashes that drops you down nearly to sea level and then steeply up the other side again.  This time, we’re dropping down to the Limska Kanal, also known as Lim Fjord or Lim Bay.  

We bottom out at the canal and join the main coast highway for the ascent, which is a tad unpleasant.  Slow climb, traffic, essentially zero shoulder - a poor combination.  I remember this dramatic road from two years ago, when we rode it the other direction from Rovinj to Poreč.  much more enjoyable going downhill, of course.  If I had to do today’s version of the ride again, I wouldn’t.

The Lim Channel is a ten kilometer long, fjord-like bay between Rovinj and Poreč. The name is Roman, from the Latin word for limit, and was given because the bay marked the border between the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Italia.
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Another view of the Lim channel.
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The climb up along the Lim Channel is bit tense. Uphill, poor visibility, about a two inch shoulder with cliffs rising straight up from the road. Fortunately the traffic isn’t bad today, and there are regular warning signs to watch for bikers on the road.
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Video sound track: Hrabi se me lome,by Radio Luksemburg

We rode here two years ago, but going the other direction. Definitely more fun coasting down.
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Definitely a scenic bit of road though.
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From the end of the channel, the deep depression continues far inland, following the river to Pazin where we were earlier in the week. It practically splits Istria in half.
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Like I said - about a 2” shoulder, and with no room on the right for your own shoulders.
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We arrive in Bale at right about one.  Too early to check in to our apartment, so we look around for a cafe.  It’s Sunday afternoon, it’s a small town, and we’re despairing of finding anything at all when we finally stumble on a place.  

An hour later, we head over to our apartment.  Bad news.  No one appears to be at home, and when we telephone, no one answers.  We know we have the right place, because we hear the phone ringing inside.  Small town, nothing open, stood up by our host - not the best situation.

Giving it one more try, we send a message to our host through Booking.  Not more than a minute later, a woman comes to the door and apologetically tells us there’s something wrong with her phone and she can’t hear it from upstairs.  Odd, but we’re happy.

We relax until about an hour before dinner time, and then go for a walk through town before sitting down for a meal.  Bale is surprising, and possibly the most interesting of the B-towns.  Worth a separate page, obviously.

Outside our apartment in Bale, hoping someone will answer the phone and let us in. Please?
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It definitely helps your performance having a personal trainer.
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Jen GrumbyNo lunch until you can give me a 30-second plank!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyOoh, so mean! I think I’d stick with this trainer - she looks much kinder.
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1 month ago
How’d I do, coach? A perfect 10, right?
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For such a small, quiet town Bale has a surprising amount of biking activity. This charger came out of nowhere and almost mowed us down.
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Pandemic? What pandemic?
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Jen GrumbyAnd if there was a pandemic, the guy on the left would be OK.

The little Covid virus is terrified of cigarette smoke.
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1 month ago
The view of Bale from our dinner table.
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Ride stats today: 35 miles, 2,300’; for the tour: 1,139 miles, 50,000’

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 1,140 miles (1,835 km)

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