Croatia makes dreams come true
These days superlative phrases are used recklessly. However, for the 4 Islands stage race in Croatia words like paradise, epic and awe inspiring truly fit. With rocky trails, shady pine forests and olive groves, the islands of Krk, Rab, Cres and Losinj provide the perfect ingredients for a stunning MTB stage race. The Adriatic Sea is never far away and you can barely find a place without a great ocean view. The island of Krk is about 30-45 minutes from Rijeka by car.
About 400 riders in teams of two experienced a wonderful four days and a perfectly organized event.
It all starts in Baškas on Krk. With fresh legs the riders begin the longest stage with the greatest elevation change,1,580 vertical meters over 68km. The weather is sunny and spring temperatures around 15-20°C are quite comfortable for riding. The trails are only moderately technical. A great way to start the race. The teams get a first impression of the trails and find a comfortable pace to set over the next days and make it to the finish line.
By ferry riders, bikes and organization teams are dropped off onto the next island: Rab. That’s a pretty unique way to transfer to the next stage. The start and finish is in Lopar. This stage is a bit easier than the first one. Temperatures drop slightly and in the afternoon it even starts to rain briefly but it’s not cold at all and riders are prepared, quickly pulling out their rain jackets.
The next island Cres awaits the teams, ready to conquer its trails. Participants start the stage by riding with their bikes right off the ferry. You’d be hard pressed to find a start like this anywhere else. The track leads the riders from the dock at Merag to Osor. The total distance and elevation change is similar to the first stage. This time though, the trails are a little more technical. High speed downhill runs on loose rock, in particular, demanding skill and attention from the riders. This is made just a little harder when the view ahead is frequently spectacular.
The final stage in Losinj is the easiest stage of the event. Short, with 50km and less than 1.000m vertical meters to climb this, comes in handy for some riders. After three days on rocky trails, arms and legs are tired. Most teams are not fighting for every second, instead they savour the last few kilometers of the race and cross the finish line with big smiles on their faces. A high five with the teammate, a beer in the hand and feet in the ocean. The weather is as good as it can possibly get; clear blue skies, moderate temperatures and a fresh ocean breeze. The perfect end to an awesome event.
The islands of Croatia and the 4 Island stage race fulfills everything a mountain bikers mind dreams of. Perfect trails leading through absolutely stunning scenery, light pine forests alternating with open rocky fields and long sections of the race track taking the riders right next to the ocean. All together this makes deeply satisfied participants.
Here are some experiences from:
Karin Fürst – AUT finished 161/180
„The biggest challenge for me and my father were the partly rocky and steep up- and downhills as we didn’t know the terrain in front. My legs are ok, but my arms were not up to the long descents and hard carry passages. Next time my upper body needs a bit of workout. When I crossed the finish line on Saturday I was overwhelmed having complete the race and also I was still blown away by the wonderful trails along the shoreline on that stage and the landscape in the finish area as well.“
Text by: Marius Holler