I was lucky enough to be part of an organized ladies MTB trip to Slovenia. The trip was organised by the lovely Catherine of H&I Adventures and being the one who usually organises all our social rides I was happy to take a back seat and let someone else do all the hard work. There were 6 of us in our group; Audrey, Catherine and Karen who’d had an early start flying down from Edinburgh to meet Alison, Nikki and myself at Stansted airport.
Day 1 – Mountains, Lake and Cake
As our flight approached Ljubljana and the mountains came into view I could feel the excitement build within the group and as we disembarked there were six extremely excited faces. Our guides for the weekend were Danijel and Marko who met us at the airport and their enthusiasm to help from the moment we arrived was superb. With the van loaded our first port of call was to stop off at a local bike shop and build our bikes. With the bikes built we started our journey from Ljubljana to Bovec stopping off for a sunny walk at Lake Bled and some traditional Slovenian cake Kremna Rezina (Bled Cream Cake). With legs stretched we continued our journey to Bovec.
On arrival at our hotel in Bovec we were greeted with a welcome drink and shown to our rooms to drop off our bags and head out to dinner in a traditional Slovenian restaurant where we were served local foods and wines.
Day 2 – Singletrack, Leaves and Wine
As we’d arrived late the night before we had no appreciation of the views that would greet us in the morning, wow the snow-capped mountains looked spectacular!
After breakfast we piled into the van and drove to just within the Italian border. Our ride started with a long climb up an old Italian road, some parts with snow, that peaked into alpine pastures where we had some amazing views over the whole of the Julian Alps. After a break for lunch we started our 15km descent. I had no expectations about what the descent would be like but it was fun fun fun! Starting out from the alpine pastures into crocus lined trails and down into the woodlands to singletrack where it was evident these trails are not well ridden by the amount of leaves on the trail, it had everything; fast flowing singletrack, switchbacks, roots, rocks, drops. I loved it and so did my bike, it just wanted to go faster and faster.
After the descent we cycled to a local village for refreshments before heading off to cycle along the banks of the emerald Soca river, across wooden bridges and our last trail for the day that lead us down to Kobarid. Tonight’s accommodation was at Hiša Franko a lovely countryside house with the most amazing food. Cooked by Ana we had the 4 course taster menu along with 4 different bottles of wine! Every course was made from local fresh produce, presented beautifully and tasted divine. We were event treated to a guided tour of their wine cellar and cheese store.
Day 3 – Lush Trails, Singletrack and Wine
I think it’s safe to say that after yesterday’s full day in the saddle bums where a little sore as we started off on a 16km trail of lush green singletrack alongside the Soca river and into local woodlands. After some hot drinks and a snack we headed up the mountain to some newly discovered natural trails with lots of technical features and really tight switchbacks but fortunately no where near as many leaves as the day before! From the descent we headed back to Hiša Franko just as the rain clouds burst to load the van and set off to our next stopover at Medana in the wine region.
On arrival it was time to shower and head to the garden terrace to take in the scenic views of the wine region, sample their orange wine (the wine is made using the skins as well giving it a distinctive orange color), consume more culinary delights and another visit to a wine cellar.
Day 4 – From the Mountains to the Coast
After breakfast it was time to leave the wine region and head for the coast. Today’s MTB adventure started at the foot of the coastal mountain of Slavnik. From here we climbed to the summit hut at 1,028m where Cat was actually blown off her bike! The hut made a welcome break from the wind and we warmed up on traditional Slovenian soup and gnocchi. Back into the wind we started our final descent starting with free flowing singletrack that became more and more rocky as we descended, but still with great flow. At the foot of the mountain we weaved our way back through the village to the van.
Disappointment that the biking part of our trip was over was soon forgotten as we drove into the beautiful seaside town of Piran and admired the views across the Adriatic sea. A quick coffee stop turned into a wine stop before we headed back full circle to Ljubljana.
Day 5 – Ljubljana
As our flight back to Stansted wasn’t until mid-afternoon we had the morning to mooch around Ljubljana. This city is ideally situated, 1 hour from the mountains and 1 hour from the sea. It’s also one of Europe’s greenest capitals and the old town is graced with beautiful buildings and architecture. The morning’s adventure took in the Prešeren square, Three Bridges, the open air market that sold an abundance of flowers, fruit and vegetables, a walk up to the castle for a final view of the mountains and lunch alongside the Ljubljanica river.