There had been nice and easy flat behind some kind of a dam or similar. At least there must have been something like a lake, as I had been the other night in Delnice. Straight, flat, protected by some wall on the right (Southern) side. After some more kilometres, I had to stop to refuel. There was no big choice of what I could eat. Some last salty TUC crackers, two cans with fish. That was it for the moment. So that was my snack after midnight somewhere between nowhere and the end of the world. Hard to believe but it was delicious., sardines on TUC. After that I had a small rest for maybe half an hour, as I did not want to sleep long during the last night. Then I headed on, I reckoned the roads from the previous trip, even though it was dark. It felt good, riding along here with a nice speed, feeling good, only a little bit sleepy. I stopped at a service station to see whether it was possible to shop some food and caffeine drinks. This station was fully enlightened but the door was locked and no one was visible. In China each petrol station is serviced 24hrs, but sometimes you need to wake up the service guys, as they hide in some darker corners in the shop to get some sleep, different here, at least I did not wake up anybody. But a car came nearer, slowed down and stopped, an Opel. There was one race car, an Opel Insignia. It was Kornel, we had a little chat about cycling and refuelling at night. He asked me to live stream my night ride to facebook, live. As I am no member of this family, I had no objections and we carried on. After ten or fifteen mins, I realized that another petrol station on the left hand side of the road was still open, it took some time to really make myself clear, but then I turned left for refuelling, Kornel continued his road to Ilok. It felt as if I was buying half the shop, it felt good to be safe again. I prefer to carry 2kgs of food than having none an riding with a rumbling stomach. Food, cokes, coffees, done. Get back on the road and reduce the distance towards Ilok. I carried on for several kilometres and at some point I realized Dragan was sitting/ sleeping at a closed petrol station. It did not really look comfortable, but well, everyone choose his own comfort zone. This was, by far my warmest night on the bike, during the entire last week. I got ahead, until 0430, or so. Then I had to take another brake, as my eyes got weaker and weaker. 30 – 60 mins was my rest. I laid down on a wall, no cover, nothing. It was really warm and there was no wind at all. The sun prepared to wake up, so did the village. The first people cycled or walked past me and looked at me as if I was an alien, a pink alien. It was easy enough to get back on the bike, around six o’clock I found a bakery to get some pizza that I could eat during riding. Exactly on time 0800, when this café opened I stopped for two single espressi and a quick recharger of my phone. I did not want to loose the contact to the rest of the world. Every stop I made, I also did it for recharging the electrical batteries. Charged for 15mins, I headed on towards Osijek and around noon, I reached Osijek and the signs towards Vuckovar had been really confusing, I made some loops and at a certain point a car asked me to stop. I followed his request as it was raised in English, which totally surprised me. The guys was amazed by my bicycle, which of course was a great compliment. We talked about bikes for a good while and he told me that he was looking for the C3, from Cervelo. He mentioned it was not possible to get any Cervelo within Croatia, but he found a dealer in Slovenia with good deals. I fully supported his plans to go for this bike, I told him how much I loved my bike and he told me that he looked at me how I was riding my bike and he also wanted to be able to ride a bike similar like that, one day. I gave him my full support and showed him some stuff about the bike, then he realized that I am part of a race and he let me go. Nice guy, refreshing talk around lunchtime in Osijek. I decided that I have to get ice cold water and caffeine drinks before leaving this city. From here it was another 80kms until the finish line. It was brutally hot. At this time I realized that I did not protect my shoulders with any sun screen as I thought I put it into my saddle bag, which I actually did not. I burned both of them, properly. After I recharged again, I went on, this road was full of chaotic road works, totally confusing traffic handling. I tried to ignore most of it, as far as possible. Slowly I got nearer and nearer to Ilok. It got hilly again, no big ones, short and steep. No more no less. I was not willing to stop anymore, up and down round and round. I think it was around two o’clock that I reached the finish line. Lucky and totally heated up by the sun. Welcomed by all the guys that has already been there, Dragan Mladenovic was ready to leave, I congratulated him to his amazing race, he was so so strong. I did realize this last summer, when I met him close to the Albula Pass in Switzerland. Ian had an ice cream for me, it was gone in just a second.
I parked my bike, changed my pants to swimming pants and jumped into the Danube. What a feeling. It was a brown soup of something, not really comparable to the arrival at Molunat, but it was still refreshing somehow. After the swim I took a shower under one of the lawn sprinkler, this one was bleeding hot, for me almost too hot, only by the sun.
I wanted to sit together with the other riders with a shirt and my swimming pants, I could not pass. The waitress told me to wear proper pants. I returned to my bike and changed back to my dirty and smelly pants. I really love these pants (rapha brevet bibs, gen I). Amazing pants, comfy pad and comfy fitting. Now it was the moment for my ZIELBIER (finisher beer), finally! Osijek-Zielbier! Done! Arrived!
And now, feeling great again! Not even had a slight moment where I was afraid to loose control due to the heat. Learnt a lot again, only to the better. Be more relaxed and let it flow. This time I did not plan anything, this was the best that could happen. Simply follow the flow, it will bring you to the finish line! The only weak point was the free ride, it almost killed both of my knees. Finally it were almost 450 kms that I had to pedal in fixie style. My knees were swollen, my ankles as well. This is some kind of common, it did not hurt but they looked like little monsters. After a good rest, a good late lunch and afterwards dinner, we had plenty of time for chats, philosophy and other stuff. It was a great day, talked to many guys exchanged many experiences and lessons learnt. At 2200 I felt like going to bed, as the costs for the night during the last year was crazily high for a room shared by two people, I was not willing to get a room for this night, so I chose to have a brilliant rest on my mattress in my sleeping bag. From 2200 til 0400, non-stop.