Fly to Zagreb; transfer to Gorica Lipnicka via Karlovac. Croatians know Karlovac as Grad Parkova (the city of parks) and Grad na Cetiri Rijeke (the town on four rivers) for its numerous green areas and four rivers, once we have had a stop to look around we will make our way to our start hotel. Set on a hill in a stunning area of rolling countryside, the views are fantastic and it is the perfect place to set up the bikes, get to know each other and relax before the first day of riding tomorrow.
Cycle west from Gorica Lipnicka to Delnice in the heart of the impressive Gorski Kotar area. The Gorski Kotar area is the mountainous region that runs along the north of Croatia towards the Istrian peninsular. The cycling through here is fantastic. We will follow small country lanes through wooded areas and open countryside. We will pass several rural communities along the way and tackle a few good climbs. The view opens out throughout the day rewarding us for our efforts. The final climb is the toughest but it also brings you to your resting point for the day, Delnice. Delnice is a small town with a few shops. There are a few options for dinner but the hotel serves hearty food and offers a warm welcome. Approximate cycling distance 90km
Today we have a long but amazing day of riding ahead. Leaving Delnice behind we head into the wooded and Karst scenery which still makes up the Gorski Kortar region. In the first part of the ride we are in true wilderness. There are very few communities here and beyond the road there are large areas of completely unexplored landscape, we will really feel like we are getting away from it all. We will then have a climb up to Ravno Podolje at 928m, this is the highest point in the area before we descend into Reikje. This is where we join the Istrian Peninsular for the first time. This section can be quite busy before you begin to cycle along the coastline. Here will be an opportunity for a lunch stop next to the sea before we start the main climb of the day, up Mount Ucka. This is an 18km ascent from sea level to 900m, the gradient is quite gradual and you can tackle it at your own pace. Once everyone reaches the top you will begin the descent to Motovun. The road is predominantly flat or slightly down hill on this last section which makes for great riding, especially when the legs are tired after a long day in the saddle. Motovun is set on a hill top, as if guarding the surrounding valley. We will end our day's ride here. On occasion the hotel here is full so we may have to end our ride in Istarske Toplice. Approximate cycling distance 122km.
From Motovun we will ride to the coast and then begin a magical ride south through the seaside towns of the Istrian Peninsula to Rovinj. En route we pass a number of impressive mediaeval fortified towns and many of the red-tiled roofed towns that people traditionally associate with Croatia. These towns are less explored than their Dalmatian counterparts but are equally as attractive and make this a really special day of riding. If it is warm enough we will be able to end the day with a refreshing swim. Rovinj is a popular tourist resort and an active fishing port, in the evening there will be the opportunity to wander around its narrow streets, breath in the sea air and enjoy some good food. Fish and pizza feature as favourites on many menus and offer the perfect chance to refuel. Approximate cycling distance 100km.
In the morning we will continue to follow the coastline to Pula. Pula is home to a large and really well preserved ampitheatre. Here we can stop and have a look around before we get back on the bikes and head into the countryside. The landscape changes from rolling farmland to flat-bottomed valleys surrounded by a ridgeline of hills. As we climb the ridgeline you will have spectacular views of the coast. We will reach a small ferry port and from here catch the ferry to Cres. The journey takes 30 mins. On the island of Cres, we begin an 11km ascent to an amazing view point with 360 degree views of the sea, Krk and the mainland beyond. We will then begin our descent to Beli, a beautiful town that sits aloft the sea. Approximate cycling distance 125km.
Today we island hop on our bikes! In the morning you will cycle along the small lanes of Cres with the chance to see Griffon Vultures soaring on the thermals overhead. From Cres we will catch a ferry to the neighbouring island of Krk. Located in the centre of the Kvarner bay, it is considered one of the most attractive of Croatia's 1185 islands. Its mild Mediterranean climate, good geographical position and variety of natural and cultural beauty have earnt it the name Insula Aurea or 'golden island'. We will stop in one of the pretty villages for lunch before heading for the mainland. A bridge connects the island to the mainland and this can be a busy section of road. Once on the mainland we begin our ascent to Fuzine. This is a long climb, approx. 20km, for the most part the gradient is steady but there are some steep sections. Our ride ends in Fuzine, the hotel here offers a warm welcome and lovely traditional food allowing you to have a good bit of recovery before the final day of riding. Approximate cycling distance 91km.
We are now on the home stretch and back in the Gorski Kotar region where we began a week ago. We may have slightly weary legs but hopefully a bank of wonderful memories of the glorious scenery which will keep us going on our final day. The road is undulating all day and although there are no long climbs there are a couple of steep climbs, but all the way the scenery is beautiful, through tiny rural communities and lots of open road. We will end our day back in Gorica Lipnicka, in the pretty hotel where we began our week. If the weather is good Vlado can organise for us to have a group BBQ and we can sit outside, admire the view and chat about the past week of incredible cycling. Approximate cycling distance 90km.
Transfer to Zagreb airport. Fly to London.