We woke up, Nico looked fine, just a little tired.
NICO: I could not sleep well during that night. Uncomfortable bench after an uncomfortable last strech in Croatia.
We wrapped our stuff and got on our bikes. Sunday opening hours in Croatia won‘t be challenging. Soon we should find a supermarket to get some sandwiches and yoghurt or kefir. Around 0630 we saw a pekarna (bakery) delivery so we stopped in front of the supermarket and had some early breakfast. Nico struggled with her sandwich but finally she could finish it. We talked about distances and that it might be possible to reach Bjelanica the next day. The estimated distance to cp4 was still almost 400kms. From now on we were back in the hills and it would get even hotter than the day before, so we should not push too strong!
We decided to move on, direction Bjelavar. As we reached it, Nico told me that she needs an immediate rest as she was falling asleep on the bike, following me in my slipstream. We reached a small park in front of one of the many graveyards and she fell asleep immediately. At around four hours later I woke her up to get a feedback of how she felt. Meanwhile I was checking options for returning to Germany. If we start a tough day in conditions like this we would raise the suffermode bar a lot, only during this day. I was almost certain that Nico would never say that she had enough of this cycling experience and of course it would be great to reach cp4, it would be even greater to finally reach Meteora. Until this moment we almost cycled 2800kms, in our calculation during 12 days. For my understanding this is already an amazing experience. The reader should know that we had some limiting factors on the requirement of being back in Germany as our kids were on holidays and were waiting for being picked up by us on a fixed date. So for us it was not only a challenge to reach Meteora, it was about getting there before Aug 16.
I checked options for a return from Zagreb, Sarajevo and Tirana. The further South, the less flexibility. My preferred option would be to depart from Zagreb but still I did not feel good in making decisions for us by myself.
After Nico woke up again we discussed to possible options and had some realistic views on our planned route ahead. I recommended to stop the race here as it would get tougher and tougher from this day on. We discussed forth and back and finally agreed on riding app. 100kms to Zagreb. For sure it was not easy making this decision but, to be honest, I was happy we decided this way. Surprisingly the ride to Zagreb was smooth again, some stopps in the shadow along the road, several ice creams and lots of water. I thought it may have been a decision that was made too quick, I was uncertain again.
NICO: I was very happy with our decision! First it was hard to accept, but when the bus was booked I instandly felt reliefed. That was propably the reason why this 100km ride felt so easy.
As we reached Zagreb, we had some food and some drinks before we headed to the bus station.
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