Rolling waves and roads coastline, we’ll see the ocean overflowing any sensible sensory scale and will get blown sideways across the yellow line on Cadillac Mountain.
We move easily from Slovenia to Croatia, as if the border is little more than a nod toward history. We try to keep in our sight that there is a story here of humanity and politics and deep culture. The terrain and joy of pedaling pushes against us, for weeks our track will thread dazzling diverse terrain: tree cover on Istria, cracked white rock on the islands, dry mountain windskimmed ridges.
We’ve been navigating using Komoot, a sophisticated adventure planning program with a very tidy web interface and the nicest smartphone app in the genre. While planning this trip, I first just clicked on Illirska Bistrica and Split and indicated that we would be on mountain bikes. That yielded a route that I would eventually tinker with a great deal, but it was remarkable from the start that Komoot chose small roads and tracks just as I would have wanted it to. I’ve tested the site closer to home where I know the roads well and can confirm that, if you do nothing and leave the route creation to Komoot’s route engine, you will yield a very nice ride.
The app is intuitive and beautiful. During navigation, it will record the usual trip statistics and will project your position on the downloaded background map in a way that is easy to work with. Once the tour is finished, photos can be uploaded and linked to specific locations on the route. In another nice feature, you can mark highlights on a route which will then be used to help create future routes in the area. The more users indicate highlights, the better the Komoot route engine will be.
Those next days headed toward Sjeverni National Park, startlingly dry, a concrete impacted heat, leaves us heaving into noons. Well above the sea and the E65, we don’t see anyone for twenty hours. As if we’re pedaling against a static painting, pebbly grit, haze chalk green.
Pinball bounding bouncing rock to rock and from the edge of your vision you can see see where the stone fences have collapsed to haphazard return to the track. Snapping twigs and leaf shush, our arms raked by thorns. Heat concentrated into a clearing, dive past the perimeter again.
In a month we find no singular place that is Cuba, instead fractal shards where every deeper shape contradicts the emergent ones. It astonishes us every day, we’re breathless in its self aware narrative.
Our route has been a broken meander on the smallest back lanes, cow paths, stony clusterfucked hike-a-bikes, with a dose of wading and lifting sweat skin biting fly swatting. Naturally, we’re having a splendid, demented time.
The identity of this place is that it is nowhere, towns that we will inertia through when we need to, but the network of agricultural tracks horizons into midmorning heat and we don’t have to intersect anything else.
In the thick experience of movement and days, in the backroads dust and the chest pressing heat, in the hundred laughter cheek kiss embrace conversations we have, it’s there that the void gets filled, making me ride grinning at how close it was.
Green Mountain Gravel Growler: Logan, Daniel, and I scouted an incredible bikepacking route linking together some of Vermont’s best craft breweries. Follow the link to Bikepacking.com for details.
Not wanting or wishing or chasing something else. I’m in stationary timestopped movement liberated from hoping for a better view or a softer light or a more ragged horizon. Kyrgyzstan is stasis that I know isn’t permanent but that I can at least be present in heat and contentment.
I don’t care about the equipment, I just want it to be perfect.
I think that span, the morning snow, the frustrations of the mud slog up and past the high point, the clacking rollercoaster descent and then whooosh, silence of our big tires on green carpet doubletrack for days; I think that span snapped and adhered this place to us so here’s where we never want to have missed or ended.