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Cycling through Dubrovnik: Hosting Adventurous Cyclists on Epic Journeys

Written by  Apr 14, 2024

“Why are you cycling 20,000 KM and passing through 30 countries?” I asked the friendly Italian cyclist as we tucked into breakfast in my dining room. “Why not,” he laughed. It reminded me of the English mountaineer George Mallory who when asked why we wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world simply answered “Because it is there.”

We seem to be a magnet for people travelling on two wheels this year.

I often see cyclists struggling up and indeed down the rolling coastal road and I often wonder where are they going, or indeed where have they come from. Loaded down with luggage and looking more like a snail carrying their world on the bikes, which I guess they are.

And just at the start of the season we found ourselves hosting one such cyclist, giving us a chance to get an insight into what, when and why.

The only real biking adventure my wife and I had was in Ireland, which almost ended as soon as it began as my wife almost falling into a river, probably we should have gone to the flatlands of the Netherlands.

Of course, we’ve done the biking tour around Mljet, thankfully without any accidents, but a real adventure is still awaiting.

So this Italian cyclist was introduced to us via a friend in Zadar. She said that he was looking for accommodation in Dubrovnik and we were only too willing to help. After our 1,200 km hike around southwest England we know how much a warm shower and a soft bed means.

In fact, this was his first bike journey, and he was raising money for families with disabled children, and hoping to raise 20,000 euro, or a euro for every kilometre. “As I walked into the Old City I found myself humming the theme tune to the Game of Thrones,” he recalled.

He was on his way south to Greece, before looping back up through the heart of Europe to Scandinavia. A truly monumental feat. “I have a budget of 15 euro per day, so I hope to find hosts where I can stay for free or I have a tent so I will camp,” he explained.

As it turns out there are quite a few websites and apps that cater for this kind of trip. The two that had the most interesting names for me were “Warm Showers,” and “Welcome to my Garden.” And during his trip down our coastline he had been lucky enough to stay almost everywhere for free.

“One of the things that has got me emotional is the kindness and generosity I have received from everyone I’ve met so far,” he smiled. I couldn’t help but think that he had a very tight budget knowing the supermarket prices.

“And how have the drivers been here,” I asked. He thought. “Let’s just say that truck drivers clearly don’t have knowledge of driving with bikes on the road,” came his answer as he explained a few near misses.

We finished breakfast and he hoped on his bike for the trip to Montenegro. We actually felt quite jealous of him, to think of all the memories he will create, but then laughed about the Ireland mishap and decided that we were safer on two feet rather than two wheels.

As I said we seem to be attracting cyclists at the Thomas household, and just last week another adventurer contacted me. His journey seemed even crazier. From the heart of Ireland to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, covering 23,000 KM. So pretty soon we could well be hosting our second cyclist, and the summer hasn’t even started yet. And to be honest I can’t wait, seeing their passion and determination is truly inspiring.

So the next time you are driving to work and see one of these slightly dishevelled cyclists pumping away at their pedals maybe just give them a thought, and more importantly a little more room on the road.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

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