Despite how it may appear, this trip happened quite haphazardly and without too much planning. I had been yearning to go someplace and Angela just so happened to be going to Croatia alone. So I booked a flight and somewhere along that process, I came up with the idea to bike across Istria. Enter Jill, who joined our trip only a week prior to. When she heard that we were biking, one of her first questions was, “Hey guys, what’s the elevation like?” Elevation? What’s that?
If you followed our last leg from Pula to Rovinj, you know that the host at our hostel convinced us to take a detour. That’s how we happened upon this leg- biking across the peninsula from Rovinj to Labin. It’s not a long leg (we’re looking at just under 40 miles) but it is freakin steep. As in… elevation of 6,800 feet!
I won’t say much except that we started off feeling slow (because of the slow incline) and had to take a pit stop at Svetvincenat, which has some nice old buildings to look at but otherwise didn’t have much else. We had the most wonderful relief from Barban to Rasa, where it was a thrilling and winding downhill ride. Think driving on curving loops to get from high elevation to low but that we were able to press on with full speed!
Unfortunately, there came a point when we realized that we were in a valley, meaning that we had to go up. Did I mention that Labin’s Italian name, Albona, means city on a hill? That began the treacherous climb up to Labin which seemed to take a lifetime. By the time I got up to the top of the “hill”, there was a mini waterfall with some tourists and they actually applauded! We arrived in our AirBnB booking where our host even presented us with a bottle of homemade white wine.
Overall, as someone in Rovinj shared, the “inner part of Istria is gorgeous”. We would agree- beautiful fields, country side, and rustic dirt roads. But how long did this leg take us? About 7 hours…. That included a 30 minute break, a couple of smaller breaks, and at least an inch off my thighs 🙂
To cap off this leg, there’s a funny story. After we stopped in Svetvincenat, there was a portion where we biked through the countryside and past some farms. Around this giant hill, there was a farm that had a few sheep lazily gazing at us, as Jill and I passed by (Angela was a few hundred meters back). In the corner of my eye, a black scrawny dog started to leap towards us and furiously bark. Of course, I’m chuckling to myself, “Ha dog, there’s a fence, good luck getting out!” Unbeknownst to me, the fence wasn’t complete and the dog ran around the opening and began chasing us. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared in my life. He looked so ferocious and here I was, peddling at my wits end, climbing up this elevation after 3 hours of tiredness. You could have walked faster than me! Luckily, the dog eventually gave way after I kept on repeating, “good doggy, good doggy”. Then, he ran away…. I’m sure Jill had a ball observing from behind!