Slovenia dominates (non-hotel) country cycles
Slovenia dominates (non-hotel) country cycles
21 SEPTEMBER 2020 8:31 AM

With relatively few sporting fixtures taking place right now due to obvious reasons, Slovenia has decided to blow its klaxon and pedal furiously to No. 1 sporting nation status, which will translate nicely into overnight bookings for hoteliers there once we all get to travel again.

With so few sports taking place right now due to the pandemic, it is heartening to see the greatest, most grueling sporting event of them all, Le Tour de France, taking place and showing the French countryside off to its finest visage.

As I write, one country is dominating this year’s 2,614-mile event—Slovenia.

When I started writing this, Tadej Pogačar had won two stages and sat in second place overall. The then leading rider, the first Slovene to ever wear the “maillot jaune,” or yellow jersey, was Primož Roglič. But on the last day of competition, Pogačar clawed back a 57-second deficit in the time trial to win the entire cycle race. Roglič finished second.

First and second. That’s not bad for a country of fewer than 2.1 million inhabitants.

Slovenia is a landlocked, European country that has never been covered specifically by Hotel News Now, but that might change as the world’s core of amateur cyclists see for themselves what has created these two champions.

Hoteliers will do well.

A 2012 European Parliament study showed that every year more than 2.2 billion cycle tourism trips and 20 million overnight cycle trips are made in Europe, resulting in an economic impact of approximately €44 billion ($52.1 billion).

That is the last study I could find, but the numbers—well, until 2020—would have shot up just from British cycling newly enamored by the sport due to the overall Tour de France wins by Brits Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins.

I seem to come across cyclists quite a bit when I travel in my humble capacity as a distance runner, and I conclude that cyclists get up very early, eat a lot, leave the hotel very early (more turnaround time for hoteliers) and arrive at their next hotels too tired to do much else than order room service and head to the spa.

When we all get to travel again, I would point people in the direction of small, wonderful Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, and the caves of Škocjan. I highly recommended, although I have not been there, its Lake Bled and surrounding area.

The country produces excellent wine, too, and you can have a glass or two after cycling 60 or 80 miles, which I would suggest is about the average distance sports/travel cyclists perambulate each day.

For me and most of us, Slovenia will probably not happen until 2021 (fingers crossed), so it is within our own countries we can look for travel experiences.

I have just returned from two weeks in England, staying at farm cottages in Priddy, Somerset, and Lower Beeding, West Sussex.

This is simply a wonderful experience. I do not believe I need to be told how beautiful England is, as I get around it a little, but it has been a few years since I just went to another part of the nation and stayed for seven days.

One of the cottages I stayed in has reduced its weeklong stays to six days (the rate appropriately adjusted) to give owners more time to thoroughly disinfect everything, while the other cottage had a thorough system of cleaning protocols to limit cleaners’ chances of themselves being contaminated.

And for those of you following, our three cats had the time of their lives, so it seems, so much so that we worry they will become bored at home.

Note to designers that if they are designing hotel rooms for cats, make them duplex rooms and put a staircase in the middle that our feline friends can see through the riders and treads in the vertical steps and also through the balusters and spindles to the sides. (I needed to look at a diagram of a flight of stairs online in order to get these technical terms correct.)

One of my fondest memories of Slovenia is walking through the karst-limestone woodlands with dear friends who live in Opicina, Italy, as we walked to near Dol pri Vogljah, Slovenia, and back around to Italy to the church of Santuario di Monrupino-Tabor where on 15 August—celebrated through the region as “ferrogosto,” equivalent to the harvest festival in the U.K. and Thanksgiving in the U.S.—the Slovene residents of this part of Italy come together to drink wine, eat a large lunch and finish the meal with a rich, involved apple strudel-type of dessert.

I miss traveling. I miss Slovenia, and my cats miss looking through large glass windows at Mr. Bunny and Mrs. Squirrel and all their woodland friends.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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