In Krapina: a loop through Zagorje - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

August 26, 2020

In Krapina: a loop through Zagorje

We’re quite comfortable in Apartman Lavanda.  It’s roomy, has nearly everything we need for a three day stay.  A refrigerator, coffee and a coffee maker, and a washer and drying rack.  It also has a warm, personable feel.  It’s Maya’s mother’s place apparently, either now or at some time in the past.  One of the touches I like is its gallery of old photos on one wall of the bedroom that look like a family album of sorts.

Washing on the banks of the Krapinica, I imagine.
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Except that the coffee maker is just a tin pot.  Rachael calls Maya for instructions, and she’s told to fill the beaker with water, boil it, and add coffee.  Rachael gamely gives it a try, with less than optimal results.  Fortunately, she’s fine with instant; and I’m fine with walking just across the street to Caffe Vinea, which opens at 6 and serves a nice coffee for only 10 kuna (about $1.50).

So just how does this work, exactly? We couldn’t find a user’s manual.
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Jacquie GaudetIt's called a briki and is used for making Greek coffee, the kind that comes in a tiny cup half-full of sludge, as I remember.
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3 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonSounds like I used it correctly then since I did end up with sludge at the bottom.
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3 weeks ago

And except that either we don’t know how to operate the washing machine, or it’s broken.  Rachael loaded it up last night and started a cycle, and about an hour later it registered with us that it was still going, with an odd unhealthy sound that hadn’t changed for at least 20 minutes: whir, whir, whir, THUD; whir, whir, whir, THUD.  We finally gave up on it and tried to shut it down and remove our clothes; but we couldn’t.  It wouldn’t stop completely, and the lid wouldn’t open.  Ten minutes of pushing buttons and dials in random order later, it finally released our load.

And, except for one more very small gripe: there’s a floor to ceiling mirror right next to the entrance to the bathroom.  It’s very clear, and I’ve nearly rammed my nose into it four times before finally registering that it’s not a walkway.

I’m a slow learner. Fortunately, my nose is still intact, except that I can’t smell. I wonder if I have Covid? Oh, wait.
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Bruce LellmanI can see that this could be a real problem! Except, wouldn't you see yourself coming at you? I always get scared seeing myself!
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNope. You can’t really approach the mirror head on, because it’s on the side of a narrow hall-like space. You approach at an angle, and it looks like you’re walking toward that reflected doorway.
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanWell then, I hope you make it through your time there without any injuries.
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3 weeks ago

This morning we’re off for the first of two loop rides through Zagorje.  We’re getting an early start so we can ride in the most refreshing hours of the day.  One of the nice things about staying in an apartment is that there are no impediments to leaving as early as we want.  I’m back from Caffe Viola by a bit after seven, we both have breakfast in the room, and we’re on the road by about 8:30.

I’m a bit groggy this morning because I was up late last night.  There’s the journal to be tended to of course, but also I spent about an hour and a half bench testing ride ideas for today.  The Zagorje is a rich area for cycling, full of paved, quiet roads through idyllic country that looks the set from a fairy tale.  Many pleasant miles that follow streams through narrow valleys, separated by steep, painful little ridges  and occasional unpleasant stints on a minor highway.  The trick is to stitch together a loop that maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain and stress, based on what information you can glean from the satellite view.

I’m pretty happy with today’s work product, once I finally quit testing out alternatives.  It’s a 42 mile loop that crosses a steep ridge first thing on leaving town, then drops into the neighboring valley for mostly quiet, mostly level miles for the remainder of the loop.  There’s only one part I’m worried about, at the south end of the loop: I’m not sure about the safety of one of the roads I’ve selected.  We’ll see when we get there.  If it feels perilous, there’s an alternate route we can take that will shorten the ride a bit while avoiding that highway.

Let’s see how we did!

The ride begins with a steady 600’ climb west out of the Krapinica valley, at perhaps an 8% grade. Not bad, and nice to get the climb in first thing while it’s cool and we’re still fresh. Halfway to the summit I stop for a last look down in Krapina.
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At the summit.
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The view west. If I’ve got my bearings right, we’re dropping down to that narrow valley ahead.
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A beautiful region. Storybook land.
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A wine tasting room? I like the curtains and the ‘happy’ little flower box.
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Looks like a great ride so far.
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Vineyards and corn fields.
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Pretty sure this is the narrow valley we saw from the top. We’ll follow it for about the next ten miles, occasionally climbing through a low saddle into the next valley south.
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There’s an occasional car, but mostly it looks like this.
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Video sound track: Mali dućan (little store), by Studio Frendo

I know. We’re seeing a lot of simple road shots - just another pretty stretch of road, mostly with a biker up ahead. I couldn’t choose, so I included most of them.
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And one more.
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Another interesting assemblage: corn, squash, light bulbs, chickens, dart board.
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High-rise apartments for the bees?
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Small stands of apple trees are common here. Nothing of commercial scale, presumably just for home use. Also, a church on yonder ridge.
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Jen GrumbyA church up on yonder ridge ..
Just up over yonder bridge!
Let's ride up that hill
And buy beer to chill
Up in the yonder church fridge!
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI knew something was missing from the journal. That’s our first European limerick, I believe.
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3 weeks ago
It’s time for a Closer Look, as Seth Meyers would say.
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West of Zabok, we come to the spot I wondered about. The route I have mapped looks poor, so we improvise. We take a chance on a minor lane, hoping we’ll be able to cross the tracks at some point. We’re in luck, and find a pedestrian crossing.
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Yesterday I said we were biking up the Krapinica, but I was wrong. THIS is the Krapinica valley, and yesterday we were on the other side of the ridge to the right until we crossed over it just before Krapina.
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We were both excited when we found this lovely bike lane paralleling this somewhat busy road. Maybe it will carry us all the way to Krapina, we think? Nope. It carries us about a mile and then dumps us back on the highway again.
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A few miles south of Krapina we deviate on to another lovely, quiet lane marred only by two short, steep climbs. The first one is fine, and most of the second is - until about the last 100 yards, that feel about 25%. I suddenly remember it’s hot and I have a mild heart condition, and decide to push.
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The purple plant, loosestrife (thanks, Andrea!), is very common here, lining many of the roadsides. It looks like it must favor wet environments, and looks here like it’s tracing a stream.
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Bruce LellmanSome might say it's loosely strifing the stream but I'm not sure who those people would be.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanWho? Who? Who let the strife loose?
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3 weeks ago
Home! Krapina is just ahead, and nearly all downhill. Below is another of those colorful Croatian bee high-rises.
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The video crew, hard at work. She spares no effort to ensure your viewing pleasure.
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The documentation crew, hard at work to provide you with on-the-scene reporting.
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Our downstairs neighbor.
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Bruce LellmanCroatia looks like a most beautiful country!
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3 weeks ago

Ride stats today: 40 miles, 1,900’; for the tour: 197 miles, 4,700’

Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 197 miles (317 km)

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