To Zadar - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

October 2, 2020

To Zadar

Just over four years ago Rachael and I were having dinner in a brewpub in Silver City, watching the presidential election returns and gradually becoming aghast and appalled at the unexpected, inconceivable outcome.  Like our experience in Orvieto on 9/11/2001 when we gradually came to understand what had just happened, this is one of those memories that locks you in the historical moment.  We’ll alway remember where we were and what we were doing on 9/11/2001 and on 11/08/2016.

And now, on 10/02/2020.  I’m sure we won’t forget this moment either, the morning we awoke to the news that the first family has the virus.  I discovered this first, waking up a bit early and checking the iPad.  I suppressed the urge to wake up Rachael to share the news that President Trump is infected - she’ll hear of it soon enough - and rolled over for another hour of fitful sleep.

So what else is there to say here, other than to acknowledge the event during the middle of our passage through this quiet paradise?  It is what it is.  Let’s get back to the road.

The weather looked quite alarming a few days ago, and we’ve been wondering how much biking would even be possible in the few remaining days until we sail west to Italy.  Today is fine though for our ride to Zadar, and we enjoy mild conditions and blue skies as we bike out of town.

Leaving Pag, over the new bridge. The steeply arched footbridge is more scenic and atmospheric, but we’ve already done that. Once was enough.
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Things are a bit different though after we cross the bridge and turn southeast, straight into a 20 mph headwind that will confront us for the next twenty miles.  We aren’t surprised - we’ve been following the weather report obsessively for the last two days, gaming out the best time to make our break for Zadar.  This is it, and we’re happy it’s not worse.  We’re getting an early start because it’s still dry, and because the winds are supposed to worsen throughout the day.

We’ll be on the main road almost all the way, so I took the one opportunity for a quieter option by mapping us to the small road that follows the west side of the channel along the salt flats for the first five miles.  Very quiet, very scenic, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste.  A bit after the pavement ends a mile from town we spend a minute or two debating whether to backtrack or continue forward before deciding to ride it out, slowly and with a positive attitude.

Looking back at Pag town.
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Hey, wait a minute, Mr. Anderson. Uh, oh.
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The view across the salt flats.
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It’s a nice little wetland here. We also saw egrets and herons as we biked slowly into the wind.
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A last look back toward Pag town.
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Enough, already! Let’s head back to the pavement.
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The next ten miles, to Paški Most (the Pag Bridge), are the best of the day.  Beautiful scenery, with the southern finger of the island on the left and the bay on the right.  Traffic is light and considerate, but we’re being even more attentive than usual because it’s hard to hear cars approaching from the rear over the roar of the wind.  For a few miles I stay close behind Rachael shouting out when a car approaches, until she lets me know she can hear them herself and tells me to save my voice.

Still, it’s a far better ride than when we came the other way two years ago.  It was late August, a clear day, and too hot.  This was Rachael’s strongest memory of this island, and it made her reluctant to return this time.

OK, one last look back at Pag. This one gives a nice perspective on Sveti Vid rising up on the opposite side of the channel.
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Choppy water and grey skies make for a beautifully moody ride.
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Approaching the end of Pag.
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We leave the island by crossing over Paški Most (the Pag Bridge).  We’re glad the road is wide, the railing is high  and the traffic is light as we bike across, keeping to the center of the road as we cross this totally exposed channel.   Mostly though we’re thankful the wind is no stronger than it is today.  I’m sure there are many days this crossing would be dangerous or impossible on a bicycle.  Something to keep in mind if you bike this way yourself some year.

On the other side of the bridge we stop in at the small, colorful snack shop to admire the bridge and reminisce over our first visit, when we were relieved to have a cold drink and ice cream as we looked in amazement at the barren landscape across the water.  No ice cream today - the place is closed - but the outhouse is open, so that’s good.

Paški Most, opened in 1968, connects Pag to the mainland. 300 meters long, with a 200 meter arch that rises 35 meters above the sea. The Bora winds that channel through here can be fierce - one was measured at 123 mph during a spring storm last year.
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Bill ShaneyfeltWind seems to be prominent in today's post. Have you tried windy.com for wind forecasts? I've seen others comment on it as being pretty accurate.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThanks for the reference. I haven’t seen this one before. Today’s winds were interesting, but nothing like the next day.
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3 weeks ago
We remember this place! Ice cream!
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It’s only 282 km to Zagreb from here? Why has it taken us six weeks then?
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Looking east through the channel.
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So that was the best part of the ride.  We continue on southeast for another few miles and then make a right angle bend toward Zadar.  The last 13 miles are less pleasant as the traffic picks up and we cross a series of annoying ridges.  The wind isn’t as bad at least, and it’s safe enough.  We’ve just gotten so spoiled by these quiet days on the islands that it’s an adjustment to have as much traffic as this.

At the top of one ridge, looking ahead to the next.
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Windy, but it’s primarily a cross-wind now.
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Video sound track: Gabriel Faure’s Pavane, performed by Pablo Segovia Gardel

We arrive in Zadar at one, and find our place easily.  We’re staying at Bridge Apartments, right at the foot of the pedestrian bridge across the channel to the historic old city - we can look out our window and see the bridge and the city walls from our window.  The view is nice, but better is that it is such a terrific apartment for a short stay.  Clean, comfortable, modern - and it even has an espresso machine, Rachael squeals with excitement.  Plus a washing machine.  Plus a dryer.  Plus, it’s a ground floor apartment with room for the bikes inside.  Plus, the nearest grocery store is just around the corner.  45 euros/night.

We’ll be here for three nights, so there’s plenty of time to explore the city.  We’ll save that for tomorrow when the weather is due to turn scary - thunderstorms, 40+ mph winds.  Today, we relax in our deluxe accommodations, do the laundry, and wait around for the dinner hour.

Crossing the pedestrian bridge to the old town. Windy! Tomorrow will be much worse though, and Rachael will be using one hand to hold the hem of her skirt down with the other moored to me so she doesn’t blow over the side.
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We’re dining tonight at 4 Kantuna. Here’s Rachael’s starter, pumpkin soup. We forgot to photograph her main dish, a tuna steak. That’s OK though - she raved about it so much that I think we’ll return for a second take.
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My starter: a meat and cheese plate. Too much for one, but it didn’t stop me from finishing off this and my main course, a large serving of gnocchi with beef cheeks.
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Ride stats today: 33 miles, 2,200’; for the tour: 1,332 miles, 63,400’

Today's ride: 33 miles (53 km)
Total: 1,332 miles (2,144 km)

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Jen GrumbySounds like you're in a great place!

I always love proximity to a grocery store.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, this is always a hot item on Rachael’s rating chart. This place hit all the marks.
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3 weeks ago