Waking up in the hotel in Macedonia is not bad. I’ve slept well and are ready for a good breakfast. There will be some climbing today as well, but nothing close to what I’ve done the last days. I’m getting ready for Bulgaria and Petrich.

20140915_115528I’m preparing myself for another day on the bike at the restaurant while eating breakfast. Todays ride will be just above 100Km and I’ll cycle into Bulgaria again. I’ve said hello and goodbye to Macedonia in one day. I’ve had two hard days with climbing now, so it will be nice to have one easier day before the huge mountains starts.

Berovo is about 800 meters above sea level and Petrich is about 170 meters above, so I’ll have more downhill today than climbs.

I make my mandatory stop at a mini market. I refill with everything I will need during todays 100km ride. I’m ready. I start cycling through the small town. You can’t see a person outside the police house after 20140915_115727the party they had yesterday. I’m surprised that all of them managed to get home. Some of them were really wasted when I passed them yesterday evening.

It doesn’t take long before the road is going slightly up. I know that it will be uphill for the first 30Km. My legs feel fine, but my head are ready and motivated for an easy day. I have the wrong focus after looking at the elevation chart before I left. The climbs are bigger, longer and harder than what I had in mind.

Finally over the top, or at least I thought so. I’m cycling down for a couple kilometers and suddenly the wall hits me. The sign says 20140915_11573615% for 500 meters. No problem is the thought running through my head. It’s not fun when you’re still climbing after 1km, after 2km and even after 3km. Finally over the top after 3.5km and close to 200 meters higher. My head is definately not in the right place today, this should be easy. It’s not hard on my body, it’s just that I’ve already got more hight meters than what I was supposed to have in total today, and I’ve only cycled 32Km out of 100km.

Downhill is fun. I’m glad that I have fixed my breaks now. It’s steep, really steep. I’m hoping that I will have enough breaks left for the two next days as well. Climbing mountains above 1800 meters above sea level the next days will give me a challenge if the breaks are gone while cycling down again.

20140915_134658You can see the view over Strumitsa. The mountain just behind this small town is showing it’s muscles to me. I know that I won’t climb this mountain, but most likely something like this, or maybe even worse?

I’m down on flat land again. Cycling with the wind against me isn’t helping on todays motivation, but it’s only 3-4Km now and then I’ll change direction.

You can see a lot of farmers. Only a few are coming with their tracktors. Most of them are poor, really poor. You can see the old man with his wife coming with their horse. They are on their way to their land. They are growing paprika, all of them are. It looks like the sweet paprika when I look closer. Some of them are standing on their fields, man and wife are collecting their crops into bags and carries it back to their horse.

20140915_142128I’m cycling further. You can see a lof of dirty trash laying on the side of the road. It doesn’t look good when you can see huge amounts of trash just on the side of the cropped land. Trash that belongs in a junkyard, not here. It’s been a lot like this here in the balcan countries. Serbia was just the same.

The boarder is getting closer. You can see a huge difference between the people here. At first you saw a lot of poor farmers. They are probably working every available minute to be able to make a living. The next village seems like an area for rich people. They are sitting outside and are enjoying their life at their personal swimming pool. The car standard and the houses are much bigger, newer and more expensive. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

People have been telling me that I need to be careful in these poor areas, that I need to watch over myself and make sure that I’m not robbed. I’m taking precautions of course, we’ve been talking about this before, but….When I’m cycling through these small 20140915_144642towns, villages and communities, the only reaction people gives me when I’m passing them is happiness. They are smiling to me, saying hello to me, they want to help me if I ask for direction or anything else. I’m getting used to people waiving at me with a smile on their face, it gives me a good feeling, it makes me feel welcome!

I’m passing a boarder police 1 km from the boarder. He’s stopped a taxi, all of the passengers needs to show their passport. I’m continuing further to the boarder.

It’s no problem to pass the boarder to Bulgaria at this point, no questions asked. Even the customs just look at my bike rig and gives 20140915_144947me the signal to continue.

20Km left to Petrich. I’m picking up a good speed. I’m ready to relax now. I need as much relaxation as possible before tomorrows hard ride. Am I really ready for this?

The road is following a river all the way to Petrich. Some places really reminds me about Norway. You have the beautiful mountain side on your right, at the same time you are cycling along the river and can see the local guys fishing this evenings meal.

20140915_161943Finally I’m in Petrich. This day have been longer than expected. I’ve had about 300-400 hight meters more than expected and have been tired in my head. I’m checking it at my hotel. I’m ready to relax a bit before going out to eat.

I’ve always got a plan for tomorrow. My problem is just that the plan is to arrive at Dospat. This is 120Km from Petrich and close to 3000 climb meters from here. Am I ready? Probably not, but will I do it? Probably!

I will try to build up my motivation to cycle these mountains. I’m planning to start early. The breakfast at this hotel is from 8 in the morning. I plan to have a 20140915_143318packed bag at this time, and to be ready to cycle when I’m finished eating. I had a plan to write this blogpost yesterday, but here I am. It’s 06:30 in the morning now and I’m almost done. This means that I’ve been writing for the last 1-1.5 hour.

I can’t sleep. I’ve been waking up several times during the night. It’s easier to motivate yourself for something like this when you know what weather to expect. They have been reporting louds of rain for the last days, but I haven’t seen a lot of it. They report the same for today, but I’m not sure if it will come, but I don’t dare to hope that it won’t…DIFFICULT!

I’ll try to get an hour of sleep now. Goodnight! 🙂

Picture album from todays ride:

GPS Data from todays ride: