With the coming of daylight – it was easy enough to return to the most promising road of the night before and see the spur that ran off it to the right and down the hill. There was a fabulous view – but it was still tricky walking, even though I could see where I was going! The loose rocks and deep ruts continued – but, surprisingly there were paved bits – but just on the hairpin bends. I made it down to the bottom in one piece.
I forgot to mention that I rescued two tortoises from being squashed in the road yesterday. As I was cycling along, I thought I saw a hedgehog sat in the middle of the road. As I got closer I could see it was a tortoise – so I stopped and picked him up and put him in the field. Poor sod had probably spent all day trying to get across to the other side (or was that the chicken? - regardless, there was a fence in the way – he’d have never made it). A little further up the road and there was another tortoise – this one just on the verge – so I picked him up too, and put him further away from the cars. This one decided to pee on me for good measure. I read about the Dalmation Tortoises on t’internet later on: the farmers consider them a pest, as they’re competition for grazing – so they burn entire fields (like swaling on Dartmoor) which kills them off. I saw evidence of burning in fields as I passed by today. I wonder if (despite not being so good for tortoises) it aids in regeneration – if some seeds need the heat to come to life?
I rode on until it got too hot again – getting on for midday. When I started looking for somewhere to hide in the shade I spotted a large, spreading tree in a village centre: ideal. I have fully embraced this siesta idea! Locals looked on askance as I spread out the small tarpaulin from under my tent and made myself somewhere to kip. One person came over to investigate and make sure I was OK while I snoozed but most kept their distance. I must have slept for 4-5hours in total – waking only to make some tea and finish off the (stale) bread for lunch. It’s hard to describe just how much the sun saps one’s energy. I can ride so much faster and more efficiently in the cool of the morning or the evening.
At 4pm I packed up and moved on. It was still quite horrible in the full glare of the sun, and I would dash to another patch of shade by the road and wait until my gasping breath returned to normal before moving on again. Going uphill was even worse – there was little or no shade and there was no way I could ride up it. This reminded me of how I was put to shame yesterday by a chap who cycled up the steep hill from Krka National Park with two plastic bags strung over his handlebars – and made it look easy, damn him.
I stopped again, in a CAffe-Bar for the wifi and lots to drink, while it cooled down a little more outside. This was quickly followed by the sheer BLISS of riding fast downhill for five entire miles. This brought be to Kastrella – with the city of Split still another 15miles or so around the bay It was getting on for 11pm when I finally arrived, having negotiated the industrial outskirts of the second largest city in Croatia. Having got a slice of pizza (delicious) from one of the many takeaways and bakers still open – I decided to follow three young trendily dressed women who seemed to know exactly where they were going (I guess, with hindsight, I could be arrested for doing that sort of thing) – and I was right! They took me straight to the Old Town – and lo and behold, right next to a Craft Beer place was a sign for a Hostel – AND they had a bed in an air conditioned dormitory for less than a tenner (cool – literally). It’s amazing how everything just drops into place, sometimes.