How about an early start, the still cool morning air feels fresh and the cafés along the seafront are still empty and quiet.
The climb is nice and gradual, probably not more than 5%. I keep a good clip on the winding road heading straight into the sun, eastwards and upwards, leaving the seafront behind me. The road is quiet and empty. Not because it’s morning, but because it always is this time of the year. Vis is a tiny island, and in October when the tourists have left there are just not many cars left.
I follow what is called the “old” road. As a matter of fact there are more or less just two roads on the island, known as the old and new one. Kind of reminds me of the two ski lifts in Kittelfjäll. They have names, but I keep forgetting them. One is the new one though, and one is older. Anyway, how about some barbed wire?
There is a lot of it on Vis, as it used to be all military zone. Now it’s almost all demilitarised, but visitors are recommended to stick to the trails. Apparently there are still land mines lurching in the forests, as some kind of good bye present from the military, but the trails are pronounced safe. Good to hear.
The road levels out for a while, and I ride through old terraces and vineyards. The tires buzz on the asfalt, the sun is shining and I feel relaxed. Soon it is time to climb again, the final, and steepest pitch before the summit. But first, some more history.
Apparently Tito was hanging out in a cave on Vis during the WW2 occupation, and now the cave is a tourist attraction. Fortunately, it was on the very same mountain I was going up anyway. It’s fairly easy to find, just follow the signs with the most bullet holes in them.
Tito was the only communist leader in 20th century Europe that did not follow Stalin’s every command, and some claim he played East and West against each other. Anyway, I found this quote on Wikipedia, from a letter sent from Tito to Stalin in 1949 och 1950:
Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle (…) If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.
—Josip Broz Tito
Kind of a bold thing to say to the probably most dangerous man alive right then.
Returning to present time, I keep on climbing, occasionally throwing a glance over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of the view.
Finally, time for the good part. After a long break of just staring at the view, drinking and having a snack I started down towards Tito’s legendary hideout.
The cave itself is very modest, not to say tiny, but the trail leading there was great, in a typical Mediterranean fashion. Dry and consisting mostly of loose limestone rocks it was both challenging and entertaining, a good taste of things to come.
I climb back up to the summit of Hum and go down the other way, back towards the hotel, the cafes and the seafront.
The trail is fairly steep and technical. Good thing I just came from nose-wheelie switchback paradise (Austria, that is), so I actually for once manage to keep my act vaguely together.
After a brief stop for lunch and coffee, it’s time to hit the road again, this time the new one. Still a mellow climb, it’s a beautiful piece of road winding it’s way up to the pass between Hum and Mali Hum, the second highest summit of the island.
Having reached the pass without spending too much energy, I take a left and start climbing a dirt road up towards Mali Hum. The going is still easy, no granny ringing required, I sit comfortably and pedal nice circles in 32-36. Skirting just below the summit of Mali Hum, a short gravel road descent brings me to my next trail, that will take me all the way back to Vis.
And as far as trails go, this is a good one. Really really good. Not too steep, but always going down and always loose. Fast straight sections are interrupted by switchbacks that are “just so”, hang it out and drift them or do the clean nose wheelie turn, either way works. Rocks just flying all over the place, hanging on for dear life, half of the time going almost sideways. Exposure is limited and consequences are manageable, further encouraging me to stay pinned. Panting, with eyes wide from adrenaline and a big smile I reach the end of the trail, conveniently just a few meters away from the beach.
Apart from trails and barbed wire, there are lots of other things to do or see on Vis.