Day 9: The cheater’s home stretch (Korčula to Ston)

This was the last riding day; 60km to Ston, or 110km to Dubrovnik. Last night Robbie had kindly offered to ferry me in from Ston if I made it there in time; the riding from Ston to Dubrovnik was trafficky and no fun.

I woke up still feeling sick, and went back to bed for a couple of hours. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ride at all, and checked whether there might be a ferry or bus option to get directly to Dubrovnik from Korčula with a bike. Finding none, I got ready to set out on bike, but as soon as I buckled my chin strap, my body rebelled and decided it was time to empty my stomach. While vomiting is never pleasant, I did feel a little better afterwards, and set off for the ferry to start my ride.

Korchula

For the first time on the trip I had luck with a ferry, getting to the port just a few minutes before the ferry pulled out. It was just a 15-minute ride to the mainland but missing the ferry would have cost me another hour. The ferry disembarked in Orebić and I got to riding, tenderly.

Once I was on the road I started to feel a little better. It was hot and I was sweating a lot, and I couldn’t really use my phone for navigation because the sun was overheating my phone. Because of that I missed a turn that led to the coast road, which supposedly was great cycling; instead I wound up on the main road climbing the central valley. It was still nice riding, not much traffic, but it was hotter and not as scenic as it might have been. And it had a lot more altitude, although the coast road may have had just as much net climbing.

Orebic to Ston

On the climb I was leapfrogging with an e-bike touring group. It’s weird riding with e-bikes. You hear people coming up behind you talking casually, without engine noise like they’d have on a motorcycle, but clearly not working hard enough to be biking up the hill. I stopped with them briefly at a small wine kiosk, but feeling the way I did, I wasn’t up for a tasting.

After going over the pass and rejoining the coast, I got a quick dip in the ocean (really nice on a hot day), and ate the last of my custom Clif bars (which felt like lembas wafers to me).

Orebic to Ston

Coming out of Zuljana, the official cycling route sent me on another wild goose chase, putting me on a paved road that turned to dirt before going up to the pass. As it got steeper and unrideable, with no signs of letting up, I admitted defeat and turned around to rejoin the pavement.

Orebic to Ston

I was struggling on the road, but wanted to keep moving to get to Ston before Dave and April’s group left. I knew it would be close, and after losing half an hour and a lot of energy on the dirt road, I knew I wasn’t going to ride all the way to Dubrovnik. It was already 16:00 and Dubrovnik was still 70km away.

So despite my various aches and pains, I kept pedaling, and fortuitously so. I got a text from Dave just as I reached the pass above Ston that they were in town and getting ready to head to Dubrovnik. I blasted down the last section, arriving as they were gearing up to go. I didn’t have time to take a picture of the crazy Walls of Ston, but I was very glad to not have to try to negotiate a bus ride with the bike.

The tour group’s hotel was at the top of the hill above Dubrovnik, so they dropped me off and I got the opportunity to roll down past the fortress and city walls, which felt like an appropriately dramatic ending.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Other than having to find an intercity bus willing to take the bike as luggage. (took three tries, but eventually worked for just 60 kuna, $10), the trip was done.

Daily musing: Health

I’m fortunate to be able to do this kind of trip. I’m strong enough, and bicycling is easy enough, that even when I’m not at full strength I can still ride. I want to continue to take advantage of the opportunities I’ll have, because you never know.

Ride stats: 72km, 1208m climbing

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