Lowland introduction to...
You're headed to the Polhov Gradec Hills, which, naturally, means driving up steep slopes, so it would be good to warm up a bit and indulge in some slow lowland cycling, which will prepare you for greater efforts. You'll start off in Podutik, which was selected to be the starting point (if you arrived by car, you can leave it at a smaller car park next to the quarry near the end stop of city bus no. 7). While exercising and warming up for cycling, you can check out the old brick lime kiln , which was erected in 1875 by a stonecutter, Lovrenc Vodnik, from Podutik. It was used for burning lime from limestone, which was crushed in the neighbouring quarry, and with it, Ljubljana and the surrounding villages were supplied.
From the quarry, dash along the main road through Podutik towards Ljubljana, and a few tens of metres after the self-service shop, turn right past the Etna Pizza Restaurant , where you'll probably have a snack on your way back. You're driving through a built-up area along a cul-de-sac so you need to look for a parallel road on your left. It's best to do that at the first decent left turn, which is about 250 metres from the self-service shop. You'll reach Mladinska Street. Follow it between the meadows all the way to Grič, where the Police Station and Motorway Maintenance Centre are located . Leave both behind and drive to the traffic lights crossing, cross it and go past the shopping centre to the roundabout not far away.
Continue on the other side of the roundabout and go right past the retirement home towards Bokalce. Descend along the slope past once beautiful but now, unfortunately, rather neglected Bokalce Castle , . At the moment, you're at the bottom of the Aladdin's lamp and if you could rub it, you'd probably want the castle to glow in its previous beauty.
... asphalt and other bends...
Below the castle, there's a crossroads, where you'll turn right onto a pleasant asphalt road with barely any traffic, along which you'll reach Stranska vas in the shade of trees and sound of mysteriously murmuring Gradaščica Stream . At the crossroads with the main road, go straight on and a bit to the right, while the roads turn even more to the right into the valley of the Čepski graben. The end of the road is also the beginning of bends and a substantial slope. It's marked as 12% but seems steeper. At the top, there's the Preval pass . If you crossed it, you'd return to Podutik, but this route doesn't finish this quickly, so turn left towards Toško čelo. After a short straight stretch, you'll need to push those pedals again after the Monument to Messengers . The good asphalt road leads all the way to the top, but it's rather steep and, especially at weekends, quite busy, as it's taken over by larger or smaller groups of visitors, mostly pedestrians, in fine weather. For those of you who find this annoying, we recommend patience and moderate use of your bell. And don't forget: when you meet a person in the hills, it's appropriate to greet them. When you reach Toško čelo, all sweaty, you can relax and refresh in one of the inns there . You can also make a turn to the hunting lodge, cast an eye on the capital , and then hop back on your bike and you're off to Topol.
... through a landscape park...
Asphalt is soon gone , and you'll find yourself in the Polhov Gradec Dolomites Landscape Park. The macadam road is rather well-maintained and you'll have to keep an eye on walkers on beautifully afternoons. Cycle up and down (first rather than the latter), and avoid the damaged parts of the carriageway along the slopes – it can be severe mainly after downpours. Drive past several limestone quarries . Limestone here is so fragile that the rock itself crushes into sand, which is then used to patch up holes in the carriageway. The surroundings are exceptionally beautiful and, during the ascent, you can feast your eyes on the greenery of the lush forests and meadows with many flowers . The beauty eases the troubles, but you're probably fed up with slopes and grumble to yourself: "If only these slopes ended!", which is considered your wish for the ghost from the Aladdin's lamp.
...past a mysterious castle...
Your wish is about to come true. Suddenly, a view towards west (Topol, Katarina, Jeterbenk, the Ljubljana Plain...) opens up. You've reached the top of the route. From here on, the only way is down (almost). From the forest on the slope, you'll reach a meadow, where an asphalt road towards Topol starts. On the ridge in the middle of the meadow, there's a crossroads . If you turned left, you'd reach Topol, but instead turn right towards the lonely farms on the slope and on into the valley. The asphalt road soon comes to an end; there are a few short sections of asphalt only at some farms. Straight ahead is the cone-shaped Jeterbenk Hill , where a castle of the Hertenberg Knights once stood.
...for a rest and homemade snack
Continue along a slope sandy path between the meadows and farms below Jeterbenk. At intersections between the farms, you need to be careful not to turn uphill. The slope road is becoming increasingly steeper so you need to squeeze those brake handles really tightly. Additional caution in this section of the route is recommended. This steep forest road is one of the main reasons why we recommend the Aladdin's lamp to be cycled clockwise, because when you look back on this road, you're happy you don't have to cycle back up that hill. During the way down, you can stop and enjoy the beautiful views of the landscape and individual scenes , from nature, but when driving, you need to focus on the path ahead of you as it's intersected by drainage ditches , which prevent sand erosion from the steep road during downpours. The forest path will bring you to the meadows in the valley . Soon, you'll reach a crossroads with an asphalt road and this is really the end of macadam paths. At the crossroads, turn left and continue to the turn towards the Slavko's Hut. Just before the Slavko's Hut, there's a small karst cave with a few flowstone formations in the forest slope on the opposite hill. To variegate the trip , you can get off your bike and walk two or three hundred metres uphill to the entrance . The cave entrance is low and steep, and often moist and muddy, so we recommend the use of a safety rope to descent into its interior.
The nicely renovated Slavko's Hut a bit further up the path is the post which can be estimated as a very appropriate place for refreshment, if you need one, of course. A homemade snack is certainly welcome, not to mention the traditional 'white kidneys' the hut has been known after for ages. From the terrace below the Hut, a wonderful view of the Polhov Gradec Dolomites, which you've just left, opens up.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with continuing the ride along the road towards Seničica , and on to the crossroads next to a small bridge , where you'll turn right and go uphill towards the Medno Hotel . If the weather is nice, a wonderful view of the hills, where you cycled half an hour ago, and all the way to Triglav , , over the River Sava from Medvode to the Karavanke and Kamnik-Savinja Alps, which are clearly visible, opens up.
Let's change direction – back to the city
Go past the hotel to the intersection before Medno, where you'll turn right – if you went straight ahead, you'd drive onto the main road, which is far too busy and dangerous for cycling. So continue along the narrow road through Medno and although there are some unpleasant holes, this is way better than a queue of cars. From Medno , descend along a slope, a riser between the upper and lower Sava flood terrace, to the fields and after many bumps and a kilometre of winding between the fields, you'll reach the next minor slope, which will take you to Stanežiče . Drive straight on along the main road for some time until you reach the chapel at the eastern end of the village before an abandoned sandpit and look right. You'll see a cycle lane between the fields and a beautiful Baroque church a bit further on. Turn right onto a narrow two-way cycle lane, which runs right next to the beautifully renovated Baroque Church of St. James , . Keep driving until you reach a wider asphalt road, where you'll turn left towards the city. The road will take you past Dvor, in a long left turn past an American football field to Gunclje, where you'll turn right towards the village. In the centre of Gunclje, old, nicely painted farm buildings from the early 17th century and the chapel at the crossroads are worth seeing. You've probably come to terms with the humps, so turn onto Gunceljska Road and indulge in the rhythmic waves. In order not to get a feeling that you're on a ship in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, you can take a look to or turn right below the hill, where the ski jumps of the Dolomiti Skiing Society are located , . Some of the most successful Slovenian ski jumpers took their first sport steps on these ski jumps.
Holes in the Šentvid Hill
You'll exit Gunclje at the Merkur Shopping Centre opposite the Jelen Inn. You'll reach Celovška Road, where you'll turn right onto a two-way cycle lane leading towards Šentvid and on towards Ljubljana at a stop where the city bus no. 1 turns back into the city. Drive through an underpass under the slip road to the Šentvid Motorway Tunnel and you'll soon reach the centre of Šentvid . On your left, you'll notice the bank, the parish Church of St. Vitus and primary school. Turn right and then immediately left onto Šentviška Street, which is parallel to Celovška Road, but not so busy. Boredom is broken off by a moderate slope. Push your pedals strongly and you'll reach the top in no time. On the other side, it's downhill again, of course, and then up a little and down a little. Stick to the right at the crossroads and drive along the foot of the Šentvid Hill along Podgorska Road until you turn right onto Andrej Bitenc Road, which will quickly take you through Pržan, over the motorway and through the long settlements of Dolnice to Glince, where a short ascent starts. In Dolnice, you could turn left onto a shortcut towards Podutik, which runs through a beautiful street lined with pear trees ; instead, go straight ahead and make some effort driving up a minor slope before the end of the route.
At the top of the slope, you'll see an information board about Brezarjevo brezno, a place where massacres took place after World War II. There were about 800 victims, soldiers and civilians, and their remains were later transported from the abyss to the common burying ground in the neighbouring Kucja Valley. The large Brezigarjevo brezno Abyss has been declared a cultural monument. It isn't more than 300 metres away from the road, but you can only reach it on foot.
There's a crossroad a bit further ahead, where you'll turn left and descend along a rather steep slope past the Kačji Dol Inn and a bus station to the finish of the route at the quarry in Podutik.
It went well, didn't it? It really is no wonder that cycling races were organised in this area even before World War II.
The shape of the described cycling route is reminiscent of the lamp from the story about Aladdin's wonder lamp (stories from One Thousand and One nights). Podutik is on the verge of this wonder lamp and when you get off the bike after you've completed the route, take a look around. Perhaps you'll find a golden ring glowing in the grass, which makes every wish come true, just like Aladdin did at the end of the story.