It is at Pri Peclju Inn – an inn with sports ground in Podgrad east of Zalog – that you sit on your bike and paddle towards Litija along the narrow, but well-maintained road between the railroad on the right and the Sava River on the left. The road is quite empty in the morning during the week. It is best to start slowly and easy for a long and diverse terrain is ahead. Do not take too much time either, although the beginning offers many sights worth the visit, such as the confluence of the Rivers Sava, Ljubljanica and Kamniška Bistrica, which is seen on the left at the first bend, after the resting point and information board .
Drive through Laze and straightforward (not right under the railway line) to Jevnica , where you continue along the slope where a signpost directs you to Kresniške Poljane. In Kresniške Poljane slightly descend to the railway line and to the underpass below where the carriageway is quite narrow, then after a short section continue under the railway line to the other side. It was an easy ride to Kresnice. The place was inhabited already in the Roman times and is nowadays known mostly for the lime factory , the typical stocky-built Church of St. Benedict on the other side of the Sava River and the old Vernek Castle which was in ruins already at the time of Valvasor. A bridge over the Sava River is located here, as well as the connection to the main road Ljubljana-Litija that runs on the left bank of the river.
In Litija over the Sava River
The road is becoming worse from Kresnice on, until the macadam road starts at the quite steep slope on top of which Pogonik Castle is located. A tunnel was made through the hill for the railroad, but unfortunately you must climb it. The castle has a nice location above the river meander, but it lacks the former magnitude as it has been completely rebuilt. It was built by the Ortenburger family who moved here from the aforementioned Vernek Castle at Kresnice.
Turn right at the statue by the castle and descend down the asphalted road in the valley of the Sava River. Cycle to Litija past the abandoned lead, zinc and mercury mine below Sitarjevec Hill. Even today, the visible signs of the lasting exploit of the mineral resources are seen. One of them is the abandoned mine pit at the embankment next to the road, where water strains out of, leaving a reddish sediment behind. After the first houses, Litija starts. The road ends at the crossroads where Plečnik's monument to the victims of World War II and a smaller memorial park can be visited. The rest in Litija is not necessary at this point, it is, however, still recommended to check the water supplies and snacks, because there will be no such opportunity all the way to Vače.
Litija is an interesting place of vivacious history, rich in cultural heritage, but a closer look of it should be planned for next time, as it would take up too much time. Remember, you are not halfway through. Litija is also an appropriate start for hikes in the vicinity where many marked cycling routes lead. When the Sava River was still navigable – a statue of a boatman in front of the sports hall reminds of the latter – Litija was an important traffic junction, as it had the road connection with Lower Carniola and on the other side through Vače with the Moravška dolina Valley. The latter is also the choice for today's continuation of the route. So cycle quickly to the left on the shortcut to the bridge over the Sava River, cross it and turn right just after it towards Ponoviče past the Litija Amateur Equestrian Club .
Careful, you might go astray
In the village of Ponoviče, cycle past the preserved Ponoviče Castle from the 16th century with the interesting castle garden and park. Just after the castle, turn left and take a look at the shop with a bar ahead, only some tens of metres away. There will be no other chance to fill the bottle. The road slightly ascends afterwards and gently runs along the beautiful valley, leading you astray unintentionally. Do not look around at the beautiful meadows and forests, as you can lose your way. At the crossroads, where a better road leads to the left (towards Hotič) and a poorer one to the right, you must take the right one. Direction: Boltija . If you went wrong, you will find yourself, after a short and pleasant ascent and descent in Hotič, on the main road Litija-Ljubljana. The same happened to a friend of mine, a cyclist, who did not follow the instructions and got lost, so he swore (for a hundredth time in the season) to his soul never to cycle on unknown roads and drive according to his feeling, but he will first take a look at the map at junctions and crossroads, especially those without signposts. But feelings he had while getting lost were so intense that it was worth putting them on paper – only as a joke and as a reminder as well.
So he said: "When the yellow, black-lined table with an arrow read it was 6 km to Vače, I was relieved and worried at the same time. Relieved, because I did not have to go back and worried due to the not very fairy-like number. Seven or nine – the fairy numbers – would be of even more concern. Longer ascents are the worst part of my cycling. At a similar ascent in the first gear, I recently tried to occupy my mind with calculating the amount of energy I use for such a venture in comparison to a lighter cyclist. Of course, I did not come to any conclusion at all, let alone the correct result. Despite that, I came to the top puffing, but satisfied, as always when I succeed in something similar. The addition, subtraction, multiplication and division were soon forgotten, but the habit of calculating remained. I always think of a topic which redirects my thoughts from the pressure of constantly pushing the paddles, breathing regularly and not pushing to hard ... that day I browsed my memory and my knowledge of Vače and GEOSS which waited at the top and are somewhat halfway through this route. A rest and a snack also awaited. Nothing special, but I managed to gather some scraps from my memory".
In Vače and its vicinity, one of the richest prehistoric sites was discovered, where dishes, weapon and jewellery from the old Iron Age were in abundance. The most famous and a coincidental finding is most certainly the Vače Urn (Situla) , discovered by local farmer Grilc in 1882. It is a skilfully decorated bronze urn of situla art craft from the period between the 7th and 4th centuries BC, now kept by the National Museum of Slovenia. A kilometre away from Vače, in Klenik settlement where the urn was found, its enlarged copy is put on display. Situla (urn) means a pot with a handle, usually decorated with ornaments. Such pots are informally called buckets. The famous urn could also be called vedro (bucket) or Vaško vedro (Vače bucket), more precisely. Vaško after Vače, not after vas (village). Although pronounced the same, vaško vedro (of village) sounds far less eminent than Vaško vedro (of Vače). To say nothing of the situla (urn) which could have been called vedrica (pail) instead of vedro (bucket). Vaška vedrica (Vače pail) – now that sounds quite nice.
Up to GEOSS and ...
Ascend up towards the Geometric Centre of the Republic of Slovenia and to the village called Spodnja Slivna. The Geometric Centre is well marked, although the path is steep at first, but the shade of the trees offer coolness. When the landscape opens up, especially at the top, one cannot but stop and enjoy the endless view . If you take some more time and help yourself with the map of Slovenia, you could name all of the peaks up to the Alps, which are reaching to the sky.
There are beautiful and warm farms in Spodnja Slivna . They try their best at weekends and offer their guests homemade dishes. During the week, a lot of work has to be done on the farms in the morning; however, you will not leave hungry or thirsty. You will always get something to eat and refreshing drinks are not excluded either. Thus the cyclists have their own spot there where they register. You must not overlook the most interesting Kimovec Museum and Škunder's Garden , where sculptures – a play of nature – and various humorous figures are displayed.
Ahead, behind the larch trees promenade, a stone ashlar from the Pohorje tonalite is located, marking the Geometric Centre of the Republic of Slovenia (GEOSS) . You have to take a photo there as a proof of the accomplished task on a bike, then turn around to the left and back. But be careful! Do not cycle to the crossroads on the main road from Vače to Kandrše, which you came from, but turn left before. This turning is so important that it deserves its own chapter.
... down with confusion
The unique, almost research cycling tour around this part of Slovenia has its worst variant if you set out from Slivna to the crossroads with the main road from Vače, turn left there and descend through the valley to Kandrše. This is what my cycling friend has to say about it: "The road itself, so nicely maintained that the wheels turn as if they were on fire, is not the problem. You can also get to Moravče from Kandrše and from there on according to the plan, but the route there runs along the main roads, quite busy with traffic, and the scenery is not charming either. Of course, I found that out only in the valley and the ascent back was a harsh punishment for another mistake I made the same day when I ignored the map and rather followed my nose. Just like the donkey from Butale (The Tales of Butalci) which followed and longed for the carrot that people of Butale tied on the beanpole placed just in front of his mouth."
This is the right way: In Spodnja Slivna, in the centre of the village, turn left towards the Adventure park , and straightforward at the end of the houses, along the macadam road (Adventure park is on the right). The route takes you through the forest to the Gora pri Pečah settlement (or Zgornja Gora, as this part is actually called). Stick to the main road. In Zgornja Gora, turn sharply right (for almost 180 degrees) to the first asphalted road and into the forest. Another such turn is ahead, this time to the left. Drive straightforward as long as you can. At crossroads, stick to the wider road that runs past the first houses and through the forest past some more houses to the last houses. You cannot continue straightforward any longer (at the house Gora nr. 3), so turn left and into the forest.
In Zgornja Gora, at the abovementioned first (right) turn, you can make a detour and set out for the no more than 500 m distant, but picturesque Church of St. Florian , where the magnificent views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Julian Alps open up. Limbarska gora Hill is practically within reach. You also get to the church if you do not turn back and down at the sharp right turning which leads from Slivna through the forest to the asphalted road. Instead, continue ahead along the steep road (the name is unjustified) to the top. When you reach the top you just have to return – no other way back. A good bike is required, because the road is undulating, if not even rocky. You can also proceed on foot.
To the Moravče Valley
The cycling friend continues: "I was in the mood to step off the bike and look for some mushrooms in order to forget my anger because of the incident with the map (a reminder of my ignorance in my pocket). Namely, I once again felt that I was lost. Luckily the road started descending and required no effort to push the paddles or to break. Suddenly a goat appeared in front of me, giving me much joy. A real domestic goat it was, standing in the middle of the road and slowly chewing the foliage (the same way my neighbour 'chews' on the street gossip) while curiously looking at me. It looked as if it blinked at me and said: "Whatcha doin' here mister – got lost?" I laughed heartily and when the horned lady kindly moved out of the way I proceeded to a large farm. It used to be a large estate which later went through some difficult times. It seems to have been picking itself up and extending too. "This is indeed the right way; this is the old road from Moravče to Litija, running through our courtyard. Just continue ahead and you shall soon reach Moravče," a vigorous farmer kindly comforted me. And the day was bright again."
"I stop here and there and check the map. I look the time as well. Goodbye, lunch, I say to myself, for Ljubljana, Zalog and Podgrad are still far away. If I was to continue in this fashion I would not be in the mood for dinner later."
The road descends and when it runs out of the forest, it offers a wide view of the valley and Drtija where turn left at the main road and continue ahead to Moravče. Quartz sand used to be dug here and transported to the (now) Czech Republic in order to be made into glass. It is still dug in Drtija today. Moravče is also known for strong Lutheran movement in the time of Reformation, as well as numerous churches and the partisan movement. The place is a great starting point for various hikes, e.g. to Limbarska gora Hill in the vicinity.
No more demanding ascents and descents from now on, only some short ones to make the route more variegated. "It is still too early for me to make a lunch stop, although lunch time has been long gone and at the famous Moravče inns dinners are already being prepared, but because the end is still far away, I turn left before the centre of Moravče in direction of Češnjice," the cycling friend commented.
A lovely valley and a castle
This is a lovely valley, only a stone's throw from the city bustle. It is not overpopulated, the villages are neat and the road well maintained. It is not so much distant from a bigger city and a lot of people would be tempted to live here. This is only but a thought. Paddle on and through Češnjice and cycle to Tuštanj , where a castle from the Middle Ages (built in 1490) is located and which was one of the few which were not burnt down, damaged or nationalized after World War II. A lot of its original interior is preserved; a part of the castle is open for visitors so it is worth making a small detour. Then proceed in the direction of Vrhpolje.
Where and where to
Our cycling friend describes this part of the route as following: "Vrhpolje, then Stegne, Dole pod Sveto Trojico, Kokošnje and Zalog pod Sveto Trojico follow. I drive confidently with the map in my hands and think of taking a pencil with me next time, so I can take notes about orientation points or sections where I am in doubt of where to turn. Next time then, just to be sure. Who could remember all goat paths to where my friends directed me this time. One such example is the way to Zalog. Do not take the right turn along the main road and to the other side of the Rača Stream, but turn left just before the stream and continue along the macadam as far as possible, then right across the bridge to the other side and ahead along the stream. Another bridge follows after a kilometre and then a junction to the asphalted road where you need to turn right. The rule goes: keep to the Rača Stream and you will not get lost. As simple as that. Or not. At least for me. Third time lucky, although it went wrong. Once more I missed the path big time, returned halfway and at last I saw the board: Gorjuša. I just wanted to hug it."
Snorting to Krumperk
"I did not puff, but I snorted like a bull in a Spanish arena, and not due the slopes or the bumpy road, but due to my anger for being too indifferent to the map. Will I ever learn? I calm down a bit in Krumperk ; however, there aren't any experts on angry bulls there, because the castle hosts Equestrian Centre which breeds thoroughbreds and employs in overall equestrianism."
Up the slope and past the castle, then down to the macadam road again. You get to the ski jump on your left and cycle past. Štajerska motorway is on the right. Prelog pri Ihanu settlement. There is a 'thirst service' (an inn with a garden) at the beginning of the town, as the cycling friend would say. He also said: "I run the paddles to Ihan while I hold the map in my hands to prepare myself to a sharp right turn over the Kamniška Bistrica River, ahead to Mala loka and at the edge of Dragomelj and all the way to Pšata and Podgorica."
Over the Sava and Ljubljanica Rivers, the end
Turn left in Podgorica to Domžale-Ljubljana road, drive past Šentjakob, over the Sava River and just behind the bridge over the river at the first crossroads (with traffic lights) turn left under motorway to the other side to another traffic lights. This is the busiest part of all. Proceed to the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant Ljubljana (CČN). You cannot go astray – the asphalted road leads directly to CČN, a macadam road follows and you are in Zalog. Turn left to Agrokombinatska cesta Road and continue to the Cooperative Hall, then take another left turn and from there on only straightforward – over the Ljubljanica River to Podgrad.
"Sir, have you come from far?" people ask me in front of the inn when I almost tumble off my bicycle and confirm their observations: "You look pretty beat." Holy cow! I was embarrassed enough and thus quickly folded my tent.