This Easter I decided to go on a two day bikepacking trip from Slovenj Gradec to Idrija, via Ljubelj pass, Bled, Soriska planina and Most na Soci. On the way back I stoped in Ljubljana, Radomlje and continued across Jezersko pass. For anyone interested, I would highly recommend this route as you will get to experience the long flat planes in Austria and Slovenia, steep mountain passes, amazing woods and beautiful windy roads over the hills and through tiny villages.
Cycling in Slovenia and Austria is extremely safe (or perhaps it seems that way to me, coming from UK). Drivers here are patient and give you plenty of space when passing. Even on the busiest ‘A’ roads I never felt unsafe on my ride. There are also a LOT of proper cycle lanes everywhere. These come in the form of segregated tarmac cycle paths that are well maintained and easy to find. Temperature-wise, this April was really warm, with temperatures rising to about 18ºC during the day but quite chilly 3ºC in the morning (until about 8am).
Bike: Canyon Endurace CF SL
Bags: Apidura frame pack + Apidura saddle bag
Day 1: Slovenj Gradec - Idrija
Starting early in the morning I made my way towards Lavamünd in Austria via the amazing cycle path in Mislinja valley and then continued through Austria more or less following Drau river to Ferlach.
This is where the road starts getting steep up towards Ljubelj pass (or Loibl in German). Ljubelj pass itself is a tunnel (scariest part of the whole journey), but you can cycle through it, just make sure you’ve got lights and aren’t afraid of loud traffic noise.
The descend to Trzic is followed by a small hill climb just before descending again to Begunje and then Lake Bled. Kremsnita cake and some coffee with a view over the lake is must.
Making my way towards lake Bohinj I turned left towards Soriska planina in Bohinjska Bistrica. Although not as steep as Ljubelj, this ascend is long and hard, with snow at the top, but offers plenty of amazing views down the valley.
Once over the top, the most beautiful part of journey reveals itself. Villages like Zgornja Sorica, Podbrdo and Kneza, covered in green and with breathtaking views over either the river underneath, or the snow-covered mountain peaks behind them almost made me want to move here.
Last stretch of the road is a busy ‘A’ road down to Idrija, but since it follows Idrijca river, you quickly forget about the traffic and enjoy the sound of gushing water on your right.
Day 2: Idrija - Slovenj Gradec
Next day I made my way back, visiting a couple of friends in Ljubljana and Radomlje. First up, steep uphill with amazing views over Idrija up to the rolling-hills covered plateau Medvedje Brdo, followed by the descend via Zaplana to Vrhnika.
From here, the route passing Ljubljana is flat almost all the way to Jezersko.
Jezersko pass, or the path to it, is a roughly 25km long section of slowly steeper and steeper road. The road flattens for a bit once you reach the Jezerso plateau where you can get nice coffee, but shouldn’t forget that from there on it’s a 3.5km 8% average gradient to the top.
Descend to Zelezna Kaplja (Eisenkappel-Vellach) will put your cornering skills to test on the silky smooth tarmac. No wonder it’s very popular among motor-bike riders. The remainder of the route follows various country lanes, forrest roads and bike paths.
Passing Neuhaus and the Liaunig museum (highly recommend visiting this beautiful art gallery in the nature), I was greeted by my dad who decided to join me for the last few km towards Slovenj Gradec.