Sunday Ride

group photoHere I pose with Mladen, David, John and Ed.

At about 9 am, we left Postojna. After yesterday’s tough 8 km climb, we coasted down an 8 km slope today. On yet another sunny day, it was smooth sailing for our crew.

Although the traffic was light overall,  the motorcycles were still out in force. On our old highway route, we breezed past mountain switchbacks and beautiful birch and pine trees. And as we passed through the small villages we were greeted by bike lanes and friendly Slovenes.

At about 1 pm, we arrived in Ljubljana, the nation’s capitol and largest city. We found bike lanes at the edge of town and followed them to our downtown youth hostel.

group shot

Our bikes ride smoothly and are great on the hills. We are really appreciative to the Cult Bike folks for supplying us with the bikes. They make the frames in Slovenia. Here we are, stopped in front of one of the local bike shops that sells them.

Ljubljana and its suburbs have about 350,000 people. It is an interesting cosmopolitan town.

Tomorrow we will visit the premier research institution in Slovenia, Jozef Stefan Institute, for an academic exchange on energy technologies.

In the meantime, you can hear even more news from the tour on David Osterberg’s blog for the Des Moines Register.

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Hitting the Road

line of bikers

And we're off!

What a great way to kick off the tour! In perfect weather, sunny and in 70s to low 80s, we met up with a number of tour riders at the University of Nova Gorica (UNG) and were greeted by Mirko Brulc, mayor of Nova Gorica.

And soon we were off. We pedaled down a busy two lane road with speeding cars and motorcycles, but our group of fourteen remained unfazed.

Our first stop was the UNG School of Viticulture and Oenology in Ajdovscina, where we met Gvido Bratina – professor and vice president of research at the university – along with several other professors and graduate students.

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Green Bike Tour Takes Off

Nova Gorica

An aerial view of Nova Gorica -- Arhiv Občina Nova Gorica

After a seemingly endless flight bounced us from Des Moines to Detroit, to Rome and Trieste, Italy, John Moreland, Ed Woolsey and I arrived in Nova Gorica, Slovenia on Friday. At the airport David Osterberg, the organizer of the tour, gave us a warm welcome.

We spent the afternoon getting ready for our first long ride. We took our new bikes for a spin and met Mladen, our Slovenian host. And after watching Slovenia take it to New Zealand in a soccer match, we retired quite early, exhausted from jet lag and a full day’s worth of activities.

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A little about Slovenia

slovenia map

Slovenia and its neighbors

Wow. And the countdown continues.  Tomorrow I’ll be blogging from Slovenia. But to provide a little context to my future posts, here is a quick rundown on the country and its people.

As you can see from the map, Slovenia – officially the Republika Slovenija – sits in Central Europe, touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. It  borders Italy on the west, the Adriatic Sea on the southwest, Croatia on the south and east, Hungary on the northeast, and Austria on the north.

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The Final Countdown

joe riding bike with helmet

It's time pump up my tires and get back out on the road - this time in beautiful Slovenia.

Just four days from now, I’ll be pedaling the 20 km from the Italian/Slovenian border to the town of Ajdovscina in the Vipava Valley. I’m so excited – but not just to glean a close look at the Mediterranean and beautiful mountainous terrain.

Mostly, I’m eager to start learning about how Slovenians are adopting alternative sources of energy to become increasingly self-sufficient. And I’m hoping to ultimately bring some of that knowledge back to Iowans.

But as I’m meeting with researchers and public officials and touring hydro, wind and solar sites, I won’t be with only one learning – I’ll also be spreading the news about Iowa’s own advances in wind and solar energy. It will be a true exchange.

But for now, I should get to packing – and readying my legs for the long Slovenian roads ahead of me.

Once I’ve begun the trip, I’ll make sure to keep you updated here. In the meantime, check out our itinerary.

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