Mountain of Bears – Zagreb, Croatia

People in Zagreb are spoiled. They have the mountain of bears – Medvednica – sitting right behind the city center.

Get on your bike and you hit the hills right away!

I checked in at Labogoda (www.lobagola.com), highly recommended! Dubravko is the owner and an extremely service minded person that will make sure you get the best experience possible. He also arranges tours of various kinds. The summer schedule is busy so it’s his friend Alen that will guide me around. We get going up the hills.

It’s warm but the climb is fairly easy on the gravel road.

And pretty fast you get nice view of the city. Well, it’s there in the haze…

I’m sweating a lot and the stop at the Risnjak cabin at 724 meters elevation is refreshing – just that I hadn’t cleaned the lens on my camera… so a bit blurry pics coming up. The cabin:

Nice trails up the Beech forest, passing an old mine

We reach the top and the view is great. Maribor, in Slovenia, is somewhere there in the distance…

After a climb of 1000 meters this view is pretty appreciated

I always have a hard time imagining winter when I see the slopes covered in grass during summer, but it’s nice to see that Sweden did great on snow, even if it’s 5 years ago

A lazy bug gets a free ride to the other side of the mountain

And here it starts – a well-marked enduro trail

The trail is great (greater than my camera) even though several corners are off camber

Before going here I checked out some clips on Youtube and suddenly I recognize/remember what I saw and push even harder. The big wheels and awesome geometry makes the bike handle incredibly well and I catch a lot of speed jumping over some small rock gardens and suddenly realize that it’s silent behind me. Where is Alen??? I shout and no response. Not a good feeling… I start biking back up and find him as he stands up after a heavy crash. Scratched, chest pains and a beaten up hand. Second time I push a guide passed his limits. Not good, but Alen is a fighter and a very tough adventure racer, so he doesn’t say too much and continues. But I see he is in pain. We make it down the rest of the trail.

Again. The beauty of this place is that you are just coasting your way down to the city center and the awarding beer.

I later heard that Alen had 4 ribs broken. I realize it was a lot of pain he held back on the way down… And when you see the graph you realize that you can’t just cruise down that steep hill. You have to work your way down.

In spite of the long ride with 1500 meters of climb I had energy for more. I was given some tips that I followed. But first some cruising downtown:

There are some nice trails already in the Maksimir park but when you cross the street there’s even more in the forest leading to the city outskirts

Amazingly close to the city and suddenly you find yourself next to the vines overlooking the Medvednica mountain

After a day of almost 70km and 2000 meters of climb the beer has that special taste

The day after I made the way back home to Bucharest over Serbia. Would have liked to explore the area along the Danube – the border between Romania and Serbia, but it will have to wait. Looks nice though

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