Ride diaries – BJ McIntosh: arrival in Dubrovnik
We’ve skipped a few days but BJ’s adventure continues. He’s crossed the border from Albania to Croatia. It’s day 14 and he continues his voyage of discovery.
Day 14: Budva – Montenegro to Dubrovnik, Croatia
The last time it rained in Dubrovnik, Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia. But the day I roll into town it is the biggest thunderstorm they have had in 30 years!
I’d been riding through Greece in the high 40 degree temperatures, then over the enormous mountains of southern Albania, then through the rocky dirt and stone roads of northern Albania – and all the way, I was dreaming about my two days on the beach in Dubrovnik, a place I have wanted to visit for years!
What started out as the most perfect 32 degree day in Budva, ended in sodden conditions. I rode the last 25km through the a torrential rainstorm. Still, this didn’t dampen my spirits!
When I was riding up the last 15km climb just before Dubrovnik I did have a moment of disappointment as I had been dreaming about this destination for the whole two weeks that I had been riding.
But then I took a moment and remembered all of the handwritten letters of support that Bonny, Lila, Josh and Jahli from Tenison Woods College had sent me, and I quickly snapped out of my disappointment.
This is all part of the adventure!
With the tank pretty much empty this thought gave me the inspiration to push on.. I was in the most beautiful part of the world and I was free and riding my bike every day as far as I could.
There are some people in this world that I think you are meant to cross paths with at some stage in your life. For me, Viktor Milonjic is one of those people. He is the most kind, generous and interesting person I have ever met.
We had agreed to meet and ride together this morning and he would come across the Croatian border with me, only to turn around at the airport with 30km to go before Dubrovnik – giving him a nine-hour day on the bike, and his only reason to do this was to support a fellow cyclist in his homeland.
He sat on the front all day letting me sit on his wheel in his draft. And this guy has an engine!
We consistently were sitting on 40+ kilometres per hour which, on the flat, was okay but once we hit the climbs he kept forgetting that his bike weighed 7.3kg and mine was 47.3kg with all of my luggage.
He put me deep, deep into the red on many occasions but it was well worth it as we were making good time.
Viktor Milonjic makes small films for a living, so while I settled down in Dubrovnik for the night, he is at home editing some of the footage that we took yesterday and I will post the full clip once he has finished it and sent it to me.
If you like his film, post a ‘like’ on the YouTube page and he will try to come to Australia in January and February and make some small films about Adelaide and the cycling culture in Adelaide along with Tour Down Under.
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At some stage on the last climb I broke a spoke in my rear wheel, not a shock to me after the terrain that I had been riding across and the weight of the bike that these wheels were supporting.
I actually didn’t notice until the descent as I was always riding with my brakes open as far as possible as sometimes the panniers would make my brakes rub the rim and the last thing I need is to ride through here with my breaks rubbing.
So at the top of the climb I flicked both brakes down to full tension.
The adventure continues… be sure to tune in again to find out where the road from Dubrovnik leads BJ.
Because it hasn’t rained for so long the rain brought all of the diesel that had settled on the road to the surface and it was like riding on ice.
The first moment I braked my rear wheel was all over the place. I could feel something wasn’t right.
So I pulled over and checked my wheel only to discover that I had actually broken a spoke. I took the spoke out so it didn’t cause any issues, however my rear wheel had a buckle in it almost hitting both sides of my bike frame.
With the slippery roads and a bike that was taking its own direction as it chose I had to nurse my bike down the steep descent into Dubrovnik.
Now my biggest challenge is fixing it. I spoke to the girls who work at the hostel and they called their boss who suggested one place but, from my own research, this is only going to be for kids bikes.
I can’t achieve anything today regardless as it’s Sunday and everything is closed except for the restaurants.
So tomorrow my first goal is to sort out this back wheel… I’m not complaining. I could be stuck in worse places in the world!