I had been told that during the summer most people leave Zagreb and head towards the coast as I was keen to do. After two nights in Zagreb I checkout and begin packing up my bike. At the time the Hostel owner a 24 year old Japanese guy was being interviewed for a local newspaper. Cool. I thought to myself. I’ve always wanted to own a hostel. He came outside and we had a chat about bikes and stuff, initially in my limited Japanese then in English, seems he used to own a ZXR400 in Japan so was pleased to see me riding a Kawasaki.
I had asked at the hostel the best way to get to Split and was told that it would work out a good €18 if I used the motorways. The two guys from Manchester who i’d met at the hostel were also on there way to Split though they hadn’t decided how best to get there yet, hire car, train, bus. We exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up once we got settled.
With that in mind I set off with a plan to use A-roads and ride along the coast in order to catch the sunset over the Adriatic on my arrival. Alas it wasn’t to be. Sat nav got confused due to road works, and many other roads simply ended, as in one minute there is road the next there is a huge gaping hole, or a pile of rubble or waste land. I presumed that this had something to do with the clearing up and restructuring after the war. I eventually found a route I liked but after a couple of hours in on country lanes I noticed that it was particularly quiet. I was told by the Croatian guys I went out with that the police are really strict on speed limits, so I pulled over and had a look around. Nothing. Great. I got the revs up and let the clutch out and few off.
Maxing the bike out where possible. I’d just got to around 105 mph when I heard a thud, all of a sudden the speed dropped to around 65-70 mph. Not knowing what was wrong I continued, and eventually caught up with a postal van. When trying to overtake the van the bike had nothing. With the throttle fully open the bike was still struggling for any kind of speed. I continued for another 4 miles until I had my bearings and could see signs for Split again. As I pulled up a set of traffic lights the bike died. I pulled over and jumped off to investigate. To my horror I found fuel was pissing out of the carbs. Stuck float I thought to myself and gave it a good bashing with the end of a screwdriver. Still no luck. I decided I had two options, either call out the ADAC again or strip and clean the carbs by the side of the road. Even if I called out the breakdown company they would take a while to get there plus I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of fixing the bike, unless it was it was a roadside repair. Now quite thirsty and in the searing heat I decided to strip, clean, and rebuild the carbs by the side of the road with my limited tools. Seat off, tank off, coolant hoses out (carb heater), air box clamps undone carbs out.
An hour and a half later and much sweatier I started the bike and Varooom. It fired up, with no leaks and was good to go. This had added serious time onto my journey but I decided to stick to my slightly longer route. I did get lost a few more times but it was worth it. The journey the view was amazing. Over mountains, through valleys, past canyons and huge fresh water lakes and on to the coast. After taking a call from the girlfriend I realised it was getting late and I hadn’t anywhere to stay once I got to Split. To make up some time I decided I to take the motorway for the last 80 miles.
Cruising into Split was awesome. It was now dark and I was starving but I had enjoyed the ride and was glad to see the city lights. The streets at night were different from how I remembered, previously visiting in 2001. The city had seemingly grown outwards and wasn’t the cute little town I spent an evening in all those years ago.
I pulled out the 2001 Lonely Planet guide of Eastern Europe and managed to follow it to a hostel. After climbing four flights of stairs (I can’t remember a building in Eastern Europe that didn’t have a ridiculous amount of stairs) I knocked at the door. I middle aged woman answered, informing me there no spaces until the next day. Kind as she was, she pointed me upstairs where there was an internet café.
Browsing the web I had now decided to stay at the local campsite about 4km out of town. At the same time I Facebooked the guys I’d met in Zagreb and arranged a meeting for the next evening. With the co-ordinates of my current parking spot, and the Campsite in my Sat Nav I set off in search of food.
I arrived at the campsite pretty late, closer to midnight than 10pm, and set about pitching my tent. Man that was hassle. Like many of Croatia’s beaches, the ground was hard stone and it seemed my tent pegs were made of cheese. Noticing my repeated failure, a Hungarian couple strolled over to help out. Between them they did all the work, smashing in the pegs with a large boulder. It wasn’t pretty but job done.
When I woke in the morning, this is what the tent looked like.