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  • Joe Lilly

Bura bullied my bike

Meet my (not so) little friend

I grew up on the outskirts of the windy city, Chicago. I have lived through hurricane Hugo in South Carolina back in 1989. Needless to say, I know what high winds are, and I have grown to get rather nervous during high winds. It is ironic then that I moved to Tisno in Dalmatia where bura, a strong wind that comes from Velebit, is a common occurence. Velebit is a mountain range that majestically follows the croatian coastline, spanning over 90 miles and creating a huge climatic change between the mainland and the coastal towns. Bura usually blows cold air during winter months. During summer, another wind, called Jugo, blows in from the south, bringing warm and wet air.

Blow hard

Living on the Croatian Adriatic coast, I learned fast that bura is not to be messed with. The local experienced seamen say “when bura sails, we don’t”. It is mid November and bura is just beginning to rear its scary head. Several weeks ago, bura sent one of the wind turbines on the island of Pag crashing to the ground, and overturned an RV on the interstate bridge. Back in February 2012, bura reached the speed of 93 miles per hour, dropped the temperature for 6 degrees Fahrenheit, created 21 feet high waves, ripped trees from the ground, and (get a load of this!) sent fish flying out of the sea. SENT FISH FLYING OUT OF THE SEA. (DISCLAIMER: if you laughed at this last statement I will not guarantee what might happen to your karma.) We have had to chase our outdoor furniture around our yard, or finish ripping the awning off the wall, the job bura started for us one night. The strongest bura wind was recorded at 189 mph back in December of 2003. I am not talking about kite flying winds here, folks. Certain parts of the Croatian coasts get the strongest bura winds, and luckily Tisno is not one of those places.

Well blow me down

With the bura season just starting this year, I wonder what will become of my morning bike rides to the store. A few mornings ago, with a junior size bura blowing, I decided that with only gusting up to 35 mph was not that bad. I rode to the store and didn’t think it was that bad. I did my shopping, and came out to see my bike down on the ground, with a water bottle laying about 6 feet away and junk from my front bike bag spread around everywhere. I quickly set my groceries on the ground to go grab my bike; only to realize that my groceries were being blown over too. Oh, what to do? I leaned my bag of groceries against the store, stood my bike up, and of course checked for any obvious signs of my bike. I then loaded up my groceries and noticed my helmet was missing. I peeked around a van parked nearby, only to see my helmet blowing down the street. A village woman walked passed it, looking at it, and saying something that sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher was taking. I looked at her, smiled and said “Yes that’s mine”.

I finally had all my s... together and was ready for my short journey home. I looked up at a flag above and noticed that I would be riding into the wind. "Not a big deal", I told myself and made a plan to just ride slower than normal. My biggest fear was crossing the tiny Tisno draw bridge. I maneuvered it with no problem and was happy to be halfway home, when I checked my rearview mirror...Wait, where is my rearview mirror?????? Back to the store I went. I looked all around where my bike was parked, but did not see it. I figured someone saw it and picked it up. But then, about 20 feet away, under another parked van, I saw my mirror. I felt like bura was laughing at me.

(Sun) Light at the end of the tunnel

I love the season changes and I enjoy living where I can experience all four seasons. Back in my Chicago days winters were oh so long. Here in Tisno, I was just standing in the sea 3 days ago and cycling in shorts. It was a little chilly but easily manageable. I find comfort in knowing that it does not ever get too cold here to ride my bike, nor does the cold last long enough to make me want to hibernate. Before we know it, colorful spring flowers will poke their head out of the ground; the fresh smell of lavender and other herbs will be wafting under our noses; the warm sun and turquoise Adriatic water will be glistening; tourists will be flocking to the coast; and bura will have given way to the gentle breeze that cools the scorching Dalmatian sun.

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