Saturday, 29 August 2020

Mountain Biking in Croatia during the Corona Crisis


Corona vacation

My vacation came about in July and I needed to find a nice destination, some foreign country, to go mountain biking in. A country that would allow us disease ridden Swedes to enter. Slovenia, where I had gone many summers, was out of the question as it would not allow Swedes to stay for more than 12 hours (transit only). Croatia, however, I found out after contacting the consulate, had nothing against it. That's why I decided on Croatia.

I did some research on mountain bike trails and decided to visit north-western Croatia, quite close to the Slovenian border. The first two weeks were spent just north of Rijeka on the mainland and then I moved to the island Krk.


Packing the Honda

Since I started mountain biking I've had one kind of station wagon ('kombi') or another in order to be able to take bikes with me wherever I travel. Then just a few weeks before my vacation I bought a new car, which was NOT a station wagon. But it turned out to swallow all the bikes I needed (two Trek Top Fuel mountain bikes and one Bianchi Oltre road bike)



Meeting interesting people through Airbnb

I really love staying in different places through Airbnb as you get to meet the people who you're staying with. This particular vacation was a hit in that regard as I can't remember ever meeting so many friendly people. First on my stay on the mainland I stayed with Bojana Matešin who was extremely kind to me. She made me dinner pretty much every second day. Also she had some nice pets and a lovely garden.







The Corona Situation

Did Corona affect me in any way? The border checks on the Austrian/Slovenian border were very strict. I had to promise the Slovenian border guard to only pass through the country and show the booking for an apartment that I had in Croatia. On the Croatian border I had to give them my cell phone number and tell them where I was staying.

At the time that I arrived in Croatia they had actually lifted to tight rules they had about face masks in all public places but after just after a few days they reinstated them. This was because they had a bunch of new Corona cases in June. If you entered a Croatian food store without a mask the employees would get really upset and you would get a harsh telling to. I biked everywhere with a mask in my jersey pocket and would put it on as soon as I was among bigger groups of people. This was actually the first time that I used a face mask. It felt very strange at first, but became very natural after a while. Then it felt strange NOT using a mask when I came back to Sweden.





Krk

Why did I decide on Krk? Well, while I was still on the mainland I took a few rides across the bridge to the island and found the trails there rather amazing. After two weeks on the mainland I decided to search for a new apartment on the island. I found a nice place to live in the town Krk in Apartment Albert.




The cool thing about Krk is that it has all this great mountain bike terrain. It has a lot of marked courses with signs that look like this. The terrain on these official trail varies from dirt roads to seriously technical rocky singletrack and even some built downhills segments. I good full suspension bike with grippy tubeless tires is strongly recommended if you want to go fast (hunt Strava KOMs).





The north part of the island is relatively flat (well, it's not flat like the south of Sweden where I'm from. Only more flat than the south  part of the island), while the south part of the island has some major mountains with long and hard climbs. This is also where the built downhill tracks are.

I made my base the town Krk (yeah, it's a town with the same name as the island) where I found a great apartment on the top floor of a house, just 300 meters from the beach, with a lovely balcony overlooking  the sea.




Croatian Cycling buddies


I got to know some new cycling buddies in Croatia who were kind enough to show me around the island. We had some great rides together.

Marko Glusac and Danijel Turcic

Nikola Radovčić ⚡ Bike Centar Krk

Stefan Albert


Marko and Danijel are really strong riders who race a lot.  Danijel is a hill climb specialist. 

I have to mention Nikola especially: He operates Bike Centar Krk (https://www.facebook.com/BikeCentarKrk/) and gives guided rides and they also have mountain bikes that you can hire. But that's not all! Nikola  is actually responsible for creating  and marking all the official tracks that are on the island. I owe a HUGE THANK  YOU to Nikola for sending me all the GPX files so that I could ride the different courses. He's also an all-around  nice guy who speaks good English.

Lastly I went on  a ride with Stefan Albert who also happens to be the son of the owner of Albert Apartments (https://www.booking.com/hotel/hr/albert-apartaments-krk.en-gb.html) which is where I stayed. He was super friendly and helped me with anything that had to do with my bike. Stefan's dad is also a fantastic character with some great stories from the past that were fun to listen to. Stefan also has a brother, Daniel, who is always happy and helped me get the WiFi restarted whenever it went down.


My Favorite Trails on Krk


I ended up playing a lot of Strava games on the island, meaning I raced for Strava KOMs. I managed to get some 30 or 40 of them too so very pleased with that. A lot of uphill KOMs, but also some of the rooty and rocky trials were great on my Trek Top Fuel, and I managed to score some of those technical KOMs as well.

Here are some of my favorite trails on the island (Strava links):

Rudine-Voz is my absolute favorite. It should be done in both direction. It's a stony single track that follows the coast and it's bloody amazing. I have both video and a few photos of the trail.









Photo Dump






























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