I made a fair amount of kilometres and height metres the day before despite the train travel. Today was a bit less, but still quite a successful day too. I was going to visit the highest paved pass in Slovenia apart from Weitensteiner Sattel that I was at the day before (and that I was not aware of until afterwards). I was going to Veliki sedlo Pungart/Gregory Sattel (Kope) (1371m). Kope is well-known in the area. It was a nice road over an unnamed mini-pass to Šmartno (439m) on a somewhat busy road (there are alternative roads most of the way, but I was not in the mood of trying them out as I wanted to get going).
After a coca-cola and coffee at a bar in Šmartno, I climbed up a short-cut to the road to Kope. Soon up on the main road another road cycling girl passed me by going fairly fast, but before I got up in speed a bit she stopped and maybe turned around. I think I stopped and filled up water and continued up. This road was not as good as the Rogla road and some parts of it higher up was in a terrible state, but still rideable. It was nice and a little sunny on the way up as you see here.
Just before the top it got all cloudy and then very cold. Despite that I wanted to stop for something again (not such a great idea, but had an ice cream and they had not warm place to sit at in the big sport centre above). Here a photo from the pass, which had no views at all in any direction (and maybe 300m of gravel up there).
I took the same way back down again. There are two more passes on the Kope climb I later learned: Krukovo sedlo (870m) and Vrhnjakovo sedlo (898m). Also found the old German name for the pass at Kope – Gregory Sattel (which I guess few know of).
Back at Gornji Dolič eventually, I continued west here on the main road from Dravograd and it gets even more busy on the way down to Velenje. One has to be a bit careful as drivers in Slovenia are not the most considerate of giving place for cyclists. Velenje was a busy town and I mostly guessed my way through the city instead of looking at the map and I got out right in the end. Once out of Velenje the traffic decreased as I followed a smaller road over some hills to Gorenje and to Mozirje, where I stopped by a somewhat nice café (Kavarna Polonca Polona Bastelj) and had a cake and coffee. It was nice weather and now Slovenia was looking nicer again (than at Velenje). I continued to Radmirje (400m) and took the turn-off for the next pass and BIG climb: Črnivec/Crna Sattel (904m). This photo is on the way up the east side and it is a nice road to climb.
At the top I stopped again for another radler. The place itself was not so interesting, but it is a helpful pass.
Here is the only sign I could see, looking back.
From just below the pass on the west side there is a possibly even more interesting road that took me back on the road that continued straight up from Radmirje to Luče (a bit of a detour this). This very narrow road goes to a higher pass, Prelaz Volovljek (1029m).
It is quite nice looking back from the pass down south (esp. earlier on than in the photo here). The road is steep from the Črnivec road, but then it is flat for a kilometre to the pass, then fairly steep down the north side again. They were working on the road lower down, but it was all passable, but it is a very nice road for making round trips in the area when that work is complete.
Down at Luče (524m) I was now on my way out of Slovenia again. It gets nicer the further you get along this road to Paulitschsattel/Pavličevo sedlo (1339m) and to my surprise the road had been improved recently with new tarmac making it even lovelier to cycle here. Here I am closing in on the higher mountains at the border at Solčava. I stopped a final time at a grocery in Solčava to buy a last radler, sandwich and an ice cream.
Here is the newly improved section!
Then suddenly the road starts to climb abruptly and steeply up to Paulitschsattel/Pavličevo sedlo, where I went over back in 2004 on my previous (first) visit in the other direction, but then took the first gravel road going off east on the Slovenian side (which was nice and rideable), so never seen the climb on this side properly before. The climb is not so very long though and all was fine until I reached the pass with open and sunny views.
Just here at the pass though it started to get quite cold and cloudy and foggy. This was the last view back to Slovenia.
Here are the pass signs. You can see that road ahead does not like very inviting, esp. not as it was getting late now, but this was the way for me, so just to continue. There were hardly any cars on the road (luckily).
Here is a view of the visibility and in all honesty I could not remember that I saw this well ahead here as the photo suggests. It was a very thick fog and the visibility was only like 20m in some places. I stopped early on for another (meaningless) photo as I thought I had reached the high point, which is long after the pass, but I was mistaken and the road continued up for a bit further (it reaches 1389m). Then I had a steep and chilly descent and met the bigger road (which was not as big as I remembered) coming down from the Seebergsattel/Jezerski preval/Prelaz Jezersko (1215m) (that I just went up and down in 2004 on the easy Austrian side).
Down in Bad Eisenkappel/Zelezna Kapla it was eventually somewhat warm again and I asked at the first place for a room, but they were fully booked. Then was told to ask at the hotel on the other side a short way down the road and did so. They had a lot of people and said they were also fully booked and then I started to get a bit worried, but they very nicely helped me get a room down in the centre of the city at a nice place. That place had no restaurant, so I asked if I could possibly have dinner at this place first before going down to the centre. They had a big dinner for a group of guests and had a lot left over and asked if maybe I wanted some of that and that I could have as much as I wanted. A tired cyclist dream coming true! Yes, that was not a time for asking about prices etc. Also had some good dark beer here and loads of meat (could have had more, but could not eat for more than three or so ;-)). This was the Gasthof & Pension Podobnik that I would not hesitate to recommend staying at. Very nice people and good food.
The place I stayed at for the night was a bit peculiar family run place in the centre of the village that also exceeded my expectations: the Pension Besser. They had the breakfast in another house next by, but the breakfast was very good. So a good ending of the day and just another full day of cycling left and a half day after that. I think the Slovenian side might not have as many good places for staying at due to historic reasons with less spontaneous tourism during the Yoguslavia years (I might be wrong, but that is my impression).