The word Balkan comes from Turk­ish, mean­ing “chain of wood­ed moun­tains.” Had the ancient Turks rid­den moun­tain bikes, they might have come up with anoth­er word for “wood­ed moun­tains with killer moun­tain biking.”

The Balkan coun­tries of Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia are just that sort of place, with the Sloven­ian Alps and Istri­an moun­tains of Croa­t­ia pro­vid­ing the spec­tac­u­lar back­drop for this adventure.

Forest­ed sin­gle­track meets old-world-charm on this ride through his­to­ry in one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing areas of Europe. The Balka­ns were long a cross­roads for cul­tures from all over Europe and Asia — now they’re a cross­roads for trav­ellers look­ing for some­thing beyond the typ­i­cal Euro­pean experience.

Since the end of the Balkan war in the 90s, Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia have been two of the hottest trav­el des­ti­na­tions in Europe, and it’s easy to see why: Slove­nia is an out­door lover’s par­adise, with beau­ti­ful­ly pre­served wilder­ness and stun­ning moun­tain peaks as far as the eye can see, while Croa­t­i­a’s coast­line is quick­ly becom­ing a play­ground for the world’s glit­er­att. The Istri­an moun­tains are home to olive groves, vine­yards, charm­ing medieval towns and beau­ti­ful moun­tain bike trails.

Is This Ride For You?

You like tight, forest­ed sin­gle­track that opens up to spec­tac­u­lar views. You can han­dle mod­er­ate­ly rooty and rocky sin­gle­track. You can ped­al for an aver­age of 4.5 hours per day, mul­ti­ple days in a row and can han­dle one fair­ly big day of climb­ing 1300 m. You’re into his­to­ry and vis­it­ing 1000-year-old medieval towns and vil­lages. You love explor­ing oth­er cul­tures, and enjoy authen­tic culi­nary experiences.

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive, Trans­fer to our Alpine Lodge in Jamnica

Wel­come to Slovenia!

After we pick you up (3:00 p.m. from Hotel Park or 4:00 p.m. from Ljubl­jana Joze Puc­nik Air­port) we’ll trans­fer to our alpine lodge in the Karawanke Range of north­ern Slove­nia, near the Aus­tri­an bor­der, locat­ed approx­i­mate­ly 2.5 hours north-east of Ljubljana.

Our home for the first 3‑nights is a charm­ing Aus­tri­an-style guest­house on an organ­ic farm, high in the moun­tains. “Sound of Music” scenery sur­rounds us on all sides, as do miles and miles of singletrack.

Dixi is our local host here. We’ll dine on fresh food from Dixi’s farm tonight while review­ing what this incred­i­ble week of adven­ture has in store.

Day 2.  Jamaica Moun­tain Bike Park

We’ll rise and shine to enjoy a home cooked group breakfast.

Our first day starts off with a short climb, over­look­ing green fields and spec­tac­u­lar peaks. The Jam­ni­ca ride takes you to the hills sur­round­ing Dix­i’s base. It fea­tures sin­gle­track, fire roads and some dirt roads. Smooth sin­gle­track, aban­doned trac­tor trails, awe­some views and man­age­able climbs make it the per­fect warmup for the days ahead.

A lunch will be ready at a tourist farm around midday.

After lunch, we’ll start off with a lit­tle climb­ing, tak­ing us to remark­able sin­gle­track for a per­fect end to the day.

After rid­ing, we’ll return to our alpine lodge for anoth­er deli­cious meal pre­pared fresh from the farm.

Day 3. Lift-Accessed Rid­ing in the Karawanke Range

Across the val­ley from our alpine lodge is a net­work of gor­geous sin­gle­track, accessed by cable car.

We’ll start with a fun trail straight from our base, fol­lowed by a 1 hour ride on fire roads (with a wee bit of pave­ment — but it will be worth it!) that takes us into Aus­tria to the slopes of Peca Mountain. 

We’ll load our­selves and our bikes in a cable car, which will take us all the way up to 1700 m above sea lev­el, where we reach the high­est point of the day.  We’ll enjoy a short rest to take in the spec­tac­u­lar views from the moun­tain hut, before we descend down on riv­et­ing sin­gle­track back to Slovenia.

Lunch will be served at an authen­tic moun­tain hut, sit­u­at­ed near the church of Saint Hele­na. Sit­ting on the ter­race, perched on the edge of scenic vis­tas, we’ll enjoy a meal of tra­di­tion­al min­ers’ food. 

After lunch, we’ll start down some  epic ridge sin­gle­track which will take us down to the valley. 

From there, we’ll shut­tle back to our lodge for a hearty dinner. 

Day 4. Under­ground Rid­ing and Dri­ve to Vipa­va Valley

In the morn­ing, we’ll load up the van and start our jour­ney to the south. 

Above the min­ing vil­lage Crna, we’ll start with few km’s of grav­el road uphill, with a beau­ti­ful mead­ow on top. The descent is a com­bi­na­tion of road chang­ing to breath­tak­ing nar­row sin­gle­track down to the val­ley. After a short tech­ni­cal sec­tion, we pop out on a gor­geous mead­ow trail with mar­vel­lous views of the vil­lage of Crna wrapped in the sur­round­ing val­leys.  Back to the for­est, 100 metres of steep tech­ni­cal climb­ing take us out again to see the moun­tains peaks in the area.

The final leg of the ride takes is to an open hill ridge trail down to the town of Crna. This final descent is tru­ly breathtaking.

Next up, the under­ground cen­turies-old mine!

We’ll load up the van with our gear, then head to the mine entrance. Our local guide will out­fit us with head­lamps and take us into the bow­els of the earth, along an 8‑kilometre long mine­shaft. It’s an oth­er­world­ly expe­ri­ence, and one of the coolest things you’ll ever do on a moun­tain bike!

After the ride, we will stop for lunch in Mez­i­ca,  then head to south­ern Slove­nia, where we’ll check into our moun­tain­side farm house in the town Sin­jivrh where we’ll also enjoy dinner. 

Day 5. Vipa­va Val­ley, Enter Croatia

After break­fast in the vil­lage of Sin­ji Vrh, we’ll expe­ri­ence one of the trip’s most stun­ning trails.

We’ll head up the Vipaya Val­ley (the Val­ley of the Wind) for a gru­el­ing but scenic climb to a spec­tac­u­lar look­out over the Pos­to­j­na Val­ley. The descent is rocky, fun, and long.

We’ll stop for lunch at a beau­ti­ful river­side restau­rant in the vil­lage of Vipa­va, then sam­ple some local wines at a near­by wine tast­ing shop.

After a lit­tle more rid­ing this after­noon, we’ll hop in the van and cross the bor­der into Croa­t­ia, arriv­ing at the beau­ti­ful hill­top town of Motovun where we’ll check into our rooms and head out for dinner.

Day 6. Lim Fiord Ride and Boat Trip to Rovinj

After break­fast, we’ll trans­fer from our hotel to a town called Groznjan.

Grozn­jan is a unique, small, Medieval town, today known for its arts and music cul­ture, boast­ing upwards of 20 art galleries.

We’ll gear up and start our ride straight from town. Todays ride will cov­er some of the trails used in the local Enduro and XC races. These immac­u­late trails flow through small trees and the mead­ows of Istria.

After rid­ing, we’ll pack up the shut­tle and head out for Lim Fjord, about a 1 hour drive. 

We’ll have a well deserved lunch upon arrival in Lim Fjord, before hop­ing in a boat to Rov­inj where we’ll check into our rooms and head out for dinner.

Please Note: The boat ride to Rov­inj is weath­er dependent. 

Day 7. Pre­ma­ture Trails

This morn­ing, we’ll enjoy our break­fast in the vil­lage of Rovinj.

For the last day of our Ride, we will bike to the scenic end of the Istri­an Penin­su­la. Kamen­jak Penin­su­la is a nat­ur­al resort, offer­ing scenic sin­gle­track in wild Mediter­ranean nature. While rid­ing, we can take a few stops to dip into fresh Mediter­ranean water, and — for the brave — cliff jump­ing will be pos­si­ble at sev­er­al spots.

We’ll stop for lunch in Premantura.

Tonight, we’ll head back to Rov­inj for our final din­ner where we’ll cel­e­brate our week of adventure!

Day 8. Return to Ljubljana

After our final group break­fast, we’ll load up the van and head back to Ljubl­jana Joze Puc­nik Air­port by 2:00 p.m.

High five your new rid­ing pals and say your good­byes until next time. Sob, weep, waaaaa!

Picture Yourself Here…

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Dates chosen: Sep. 05, 2020—Sep. 12, 2020
Skill Rating: Blue Square
Fitness Rating: Blue Square
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Skill Levels
Green Circle

Typically, green Rides are safe for beginners. Green Rides may have both avoidable and unavoidable obstacles. Trails are generally low grade, wide, consistent surface texture and have minimal features. You are likely to come across unavoidable obstacles 2-inches or shorter, which is small enough for mountain bike tires to simply roll over. More challenging than tarmac, but in general, a wonderful Ride for those riders new to mountain biking or looking for a casual experience.

Blue Square

In general, Blue trails are narrower than green trails, encounter unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall. You will want to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of mountain biking including body positions, powerful braking, cornering, riding on varied terrain, steep sections and experience riding trails that requires line choice. Airtime is not mandatory, but you will find yourself on trails with alternate lines giving you the option.

Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Rides are  suitable for riders looking for that edge. Maybe it’s the edge of a drop, the edge of a cliff, or singletrack requiring focus and fast reactions developed from extensive experience riding “the edge”. You will find yourself on steep trails of varied surfaces. In the Pacific North West that could be slick roots and loam, in Nepal you will find exposed granite in the Mustang Valley and in Guatemala it maybe narrow stairways through cliffside villages. While airtime is rarely required, the ability to find the backside or clean a tabletop should be comfortable or in a state of progress. Obstacles on Black rides are likely to be outside the range of your bikes ability to cover your goofs with its awesome suspension and grip.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black ride is for those that already know they are looking for a Double Black. It’s going to be very hard and require advanced bike handling skills. You will find yourself on trails with sections most non-riders would look at and say, “that’s totally nuts!”. You will know how to look at a line and contemplate where it will work and where it won’t. Drops of a couple feet should be comfortable and getting your bike off the ground should feel predictable and fun.

Fitness Levels
Green Circle

You should be ready to spend 2-4 hours per day on the bike. Mileage may be up to 30km/20 miles and elevation gain will be under 500m/1500feet. On e-MTB tours, numbers will be higher, however the approximate effort would be considered similar to a standard Green Circle ride. If you get on your bike once a week, you will be just fine. However, when preparing for a Ride, you will benefit from more rides and time in the saddle.

Blue Square

Blue should be considered a good deal more effort than our Green Rides.  You should be able to handle 3 to 5 hours in the saddle covering up to 45km/30miles and be able to pull off a big day of 1000m/3000feet of elevation gain. Managing fuel is important as well.  You should have a good understanding how your body responds to multiple days on the bike. We will help with positive coaching, a manageable pace and plenty of trailside snacks.

Black Diamond

A Black Fitness ride will test you. Aside from needing to be able to manage up to 6 hours on the bike, day after day, including distance up to 50km/30miles and elevation gains up to 1750m/5000feet of climbing, you will be adding extra challenges along the route like periods of hike-a-bike and the extra effort required by the whole body to safely dance with your bike over technical terrain. Generally, riders who are up for a Black Fitness ride, likely spend time on the bike a couple times each week.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black will be for those with the strength and endurance to get to the top of anything they want and understand the term “turning the screw”. Distance could be quite high on some routes and elevation gain numbers could hit 2000m/6000 feet+ in a day. You are likely riding multiple days a week during the dry periods and have a trainer or belong to a gym for the rest of the year.