This anti-clockwise loop from Zagreb to Samabor is an epic day in the saddle that offers am epic climb, fast descending, flats and an abundance of opportunity for great coffee.
Everyone knows that no cycle can truly be considered epic unless it also involves a boat and this one is no different. Read on to find out more.
Starting in the main square in Zagreb gives you plenty of opportunity to have some kava s mlijekom for that initial caffeine boost. You will need it as the start of this route is a climb to the top of Sljeme, 1,035 m above sea level and always visibly towering over Zagreb.
From the square point your bike in the opposite direction of the Ban Josip Jelacic statue and head towards Zagreb cathedral. This route does not give your legs much time to warm up as you will be climbing as soon as you leave the square.
After passing the hospital you will reach Mirogoj Cemetery, which is definitely worth a visit when you are in Zagreb.
At 9.8km long the climb will certainly test the legs especially as the gradients rise out of each of those hairpins meandering up.
The Strava segment above shows what you will need to do to be crowned the virtual KOM or QOM up this famous climb. If TV transmitter towers are you thing then the top of the climb at 1035m will not disappoint. The Zagreb TV tower is 169m tall and was built in 1973. Inevitably it was damaged during the Croatian War of Independence and even has potential for a restaurant.
The good news is that is the bulk of the major climbing done for the day but it is still a long way until you are home. The descent from the top down to Pila is thrilling but watch out for any oncoming traffic and take it easy on the technical corners.
After not using your legs for around 18km on the descent then the sharp left turn onto the small climb at Strmec Stubički might be a bit of a shock to the system but for the most part the rest of the day is spent on flat roads or short, sharp climbs. From Strmec Stubički the route follows quite roads through small Croatian villages where somewhere flashing passed in Lycra is an alien sight.
Although the roads are generally flat through this part of the route, the road surface might be OK if you are on a tractor but will feel a but grippy on 25mm tires. The image below is typical of the sort of surface you can expect on this section of the ride but what ot lacks in smooth surface it makes up for in being quiet and peaceful as you speed through Croatian farmland. These sort of roads are great when cycling with a partner and you can pedal along side-by-side putting the world to rights.
Just after Strmec Sutlanski the route turns south towards Samabor but you could take a quick detour to the north for a quick coffee in the village as you will have over 50km in the legs by this point. A quick dose of caffeine to stretch the legs should help you make it to Samabor.
Just before Kraj Donji the route takes a sharp left onto a Category 4 climb that should get you out of the saddle and away from the border with Slovenia.
After this climb the route continues south until you reach Dvorac Januševec, a castle apparently built by the second wife of Napoleon. As you turn left here the road becomes slightly busier than the roads you have been used to for the last 69km so take care in the traffic.
The traffic quietens down again when you turn right onto Savska Ulica and towards the Sava river. Before you get to the river you have to cross some train tracks so as ever take care when doing so. The ride reaches a new level of epic once you reach the river and realise that there is no bridge across. Before you start to curse the person who planned this route you will see a small boat that will transport you and your bikes across to the other side of the river. I say boat but it is more like a small barge pulled across by a cable. I say barge but in reality it is two boats joined together by a plank of wood. Apparently it can transport cars across but for around 10 Kuna it will certainly take you across and make for a much more pleasant cycle.
Once you are safely across the river, then it is a 10km cycle to the town of Samabor and this route will drop you at the main square in Samabor, Trg Kralja Tomislava.
After 86km of cycling it is definitely worth stopping in Samabor for a well deserved rest. This historic town in well known for its arts and crafts but for cyclists it is simply a great place to enjoy a great cup of coffee whilst watching the world go by. You won't go wrong sitting at any one of the cafes in the main square for a coffee and a cake.
Once you have had enough coffee and cake and settled back into the saddle, you have another 53km to cycle back to the main square in Zagreb. As you leave Samabor the roads are a little busier than before so take care when cycling in traffic.
Around the 90km mark there is a short but steep climb where you will definitely feel the effects of those cakes in your stomach but this marks the last real climb of the day.
The route from here meanders back into Zagreb in an attempt to avoid the busiest roads and make for a much more pleasant cycle. The street view on the left shows the road that will carry you along south of Zagreb, through a mixture of forest and some open farmland. Although the road surface could best be described as variable, it is a much better option than mixing with lorries on the busier, more direct roads.
As the route turns north to take you back to Zagreb, tunnels will take you under the railway lines.
When the route reaches Dugave it tends to follow cycle paths rather than roads. It really depends on how confident you are cycling in Croatian traffic from this point if you would rather avoid cycle paths (most mixed use) and take a more direct route. My feeling is that this close to the end of the cycle, it is worthwhile dropping the pace and just take in the surroundings as you approach the centre of Zagreb.
Safely back in the main square in Zagreb it is time to grab a beer and reflect on the epic day in the saddle. Drop us an email for the route files to load into you Garmin (other head units are available of course) and tell us about this route if you have ridden it or sections of it.
We can create custom routes if this one does not exactly match your needs or perhaps you want something a bit longer. If that is the case then drop us an email and we will create a custom route complete with map files and an information booklet to get the most out of your time in the saddle.