Day 45 Gone with the Bora

Start point: Rijeka, Croatia

End point: Jadranovo, Croatia

Miles: 20

Key words: climbs, headwind, gusts, guardrails, baby wind, sunset

The day began innocently enough, like any other. We readied our bikes, panniers and selves for a beautiful day of cycling. Our intended destination was a small coastal town just before the island of Pag, making for a solid 70+ mile day.

Our first leg included epic climbs out of Rijeka that felt endless. We finally cycled back along the coast, only to be met with a ferocious headwind. We struggled downhill for a while (never a good sign when cycling downhill is tedious!) and soon found ourselves confronted with the most severe winds I’ve ever encountered. The gusts lashed at us, forcing us off our bikes just to stay upright. The wind was so strong it was skimming water off the top of the bay and whisking it through the air in thin sheets. I think my words at this point were “This is not safe! This is not even cycling! We should stop and figure out a plan!” We continued on, however, as we were in a narrow bay and thought maybe we were in some kind of wind tunnel. Maybe it would be better around the bend? We slowly inched our way forward, trying to cycle between gusts, but hanging onto the highway guardrail when the gusts returned. At one point I looked up through wind whipped hair and saw Jess looking back at us as if she’d seen a ghost and yelled “We have to go back!” I knew in that moment we were in trouble. Jess is the most fearless woman I know. ‘Go back’ is not in her vocabulary. Turns out the last gust of wind had been so strong it lifted up the back of her bike while she was on it. And Jess had by far the heaviest bike in our group. This was madness.

We continued forward, now all of us off our bikes, still hoping that around the bend the wind would lessen. But the hurricane force gusts continued and had us intermittently clinging to the highway guardrails to keep from being blown into the sea.

I didn’t manage to get any good video footage of what turned out to be the infamous Bora (boo-ruh) winds of the Balkans, but here is an example from youtube of what this wind is capable of. In our case, the wind was gustier than in this video:

We braced ourselves against the wind and migrated a bit further before ducking into the first gas station we saw. We ordered coffees and sat down to figure out a plan. What we knew so far was: #1 this wind was strong enough to pick up our bikes, yikes! #2 we had struggled for hours and made it less than 20 miles #3 there was no way we would get to our intended destination 50 miles further #4 this sucked and showed no signs of stopping. Thankfully the hotel we booked earlier had a free cancellation policy, so we got online and found the closest possible lodging. A town just down the hill from us did, so we booked an apartment and slowly headed that way. While looking for our accommodation a local laughed at us and told us this was a “baby wind”. If that was the case I had no desire to meet momma wind!

We got settled into our apartment, did some online research and triangulated our findings with several locals who all echoed the sentiment that the Bora would be gone in two days. We decided to stay in this small town of Jadranovo for an additional day. We would find a way to make up the miles somehow. For the moment, Bora had the shots. At least she gave us a great sunset.


Sunset with Bora

Total miles so far: 1,776

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