Will I be able to cycle from Petrich to Dospat in one day? 120Km and close to 3000 meters of climb according to the side «Ride with GPS». I’m hoping for good weather and that my motivation will last all day. Let’s go!

20140916_092725I’m finished with my breakfast and are ready. It’s only 8:40 when I leave the hotel. I cycle directly down to Lidl which is 50 meters from where I lived. I fill up with a lot of groceries. I don’t want to risk anything in the mountains, I’d rather carry some more weight.

9am and I’m on the road. Petrich seems to be a bigger city than what my first impression told me. There’s a lot of traffic through the streets, both small cars and heavier traffic just passing through. I’m not 100% sure about the roads I’ll cycle today, will there be a lof of traffic, or am I lucky enough to stay on smaller roads?

20140916_162837I’m thinking about the hills when I’m cycling. How will they be? I’m motivating me for above 3000 hight meters, the reason for this is that Ride with GPS have been wrong many times, I don’t want to be hit in the face later today.

My gps tells me to turn left when I’m arriving a small village after about 15Km. Finally I’m on a really small road, this is nice! The road quality is OK, sometimes a bit bumpy, but nothing to mention.

I’m cycling through a couple small villages. It’s easy to get an impression that these are poor people, most likely this is gypsy villages. There are small markets crowded with people. They are selling homemade things. You can see some people sitting at the pubs drinking, someone is sitting in the bus shed, doing the same.

IMG_3598I’m not too eager to stop here, at least not to leave my bike, not even for a second. I’ve been told by locals that you should never give them a possibility, not even a tiny second.

The climbs are starting for real. It will stay like this for a long time now. It’s steep at the beginning and you can see the huge mountains on your side. They make you feel small in this world… Who am I? I’m just a small guy on a bicycle. You can see the huge rocks that have fallen from the mountain side and into the road. I’m fully aware that even a much smaller rock would knock me out, but what can I do? This is the road I’m cycling, this is the road that will bring me to Smolyan to meet my mother and to Carevo with the Black Sea! Imagine that, I’m getting really close now. When I’m reaching my mother I’ve only got 550Km left, basically the same distance as we cycled in one day when we completed Trondheim-Oslo, Styrkeprøven (Translated: Strenght test), which is 542Km in one day.

IMG_3609It’s going slowly but steady. There’s a bit more cars and trucks driving here, but nothing much. I’m listening to music on spotify. It helps me to enter my own world, the world where I’m not thinking about how hard it is, how long it is, kilometers and hightmeters. Just pedaling, pushing, and mixing between standing and sitting.

A car stops and gives me a signal to stop. He asks me something in Bulgarian first, but changes quickly when he understand that I don’t speak this language. The next word that comes out of his mouth is: Police? Is there any police on the road? No insurance card, no insurance…. I’m thinking really fast now, should I really help him with this info? Most likely he have stolen this car, most likely he’s a gypsy which are driving in a stolen car to the centre just to steal something else… I reply, there’s no police on the road, not as IMG_3618far as I’ve seen. He thanks me and drives further. My decision was made with the reason that he’s already stolen this car, I don’t want to be a guy that he has a grudge agains. I’m alone and will have to protect myself and in this case it will help me to be honest and helpful.

I’m keeping an eye out in the mountain side. You can see small houses, or should I say sheds. People living in the mountain, no address, just living by themself. Eating the food they can make or get a hold of. If they can’t get any, they steal it. At least this is what I’ve been told.

Finally over the top. I’m over 1400 meters above sea level. I’m putting on the helmet again and are preparing myself for downhill. This will go fast, but I have to be careful, I’m not sure how much I trust my bicycle anymore.

IMG_3623I’m arriving Gotse Delchev. I’m cycling through this town. There’s a lot of people in the streets, lots of cars. I see a sign to a restaurant. I stop there to have some food. It’s necessary if I’m supposed to be able to finish this rough day. I’ve got 50Km left and have already passed 2400 meters of climbs.

Finally they have pasta for me. I eat two portions of spaghetti bolognese. This should keep me going for a while. I’m back on the road.

You can see the bad weather coming over the big mountains behind me. The same mountains that I’ve climbed. I’m glad that I’m not there now, but how far will I be able to come before it hits me?

According to ride with gps, I should have about 1200 meters more to climb now…I don’t trust this site anymore, but it gives me a good idea that there will be mountains. I’m going up to 1380 meters again, I’m at 490 now… WHAT A DAY!!!!!

I’m climbing and climbing. On the side of the road you can see the locals cutting stones. It’s been like this all the way since Gotse Delchev. It seems like a big business here. Beautiful stones that they are cutting to prepare them for gardens.

IMG_3617The rain is coming, I can feel the drops. I don’t care about the rain jacket yet. I just continue through the streets and the climbs. You can see people are hiding under the roofs.

The weather changes quickly. The rain is pouring down. I have to put on the rain jacket and my rear light. It’s already rivers on the road. A truck is passing one of the locals and gives him a real shower, you should have seen how angry this poor guy was, I understand him completely… If the water was clean, he won’t need another shower for weeks.

A norwegian car is passing me. I don’t remember the web address, but it was a pick-up with a «something»bygg.no address on it. At first I thought that he was rude not to stop and ask me if I wanted a ride in this bad weather, a norwegian would have recognized my flag on the trailer. Then the thought hit me….What if it’s a stolen car, the chance is quite big. Even if it was a norwegian and they would have asked me for a ride, I would have thanked them and said no… If I’ve cycled this far, I won’t have a ride for 20Km….Not gonna happen. ( I know, I’m stupid )

Finally over the top again. It’s going down now, quite steep. I’m freezing cold on my feets. I know that Dospat is on the mountain side and that it’s a little bit uphill before I reach my hotel.

20140916_102439I’m climbing the streets, it’s really steep. I get the impression that this is a gypsy village. It’s easy to see. I’m thinking that if my bicycle will be stolen on this trip, this is the place it will happen. People are looking at me when I’m cycling through the small streets. The buildings are old. You can see the wood from the forrest just laying on the side of the streets.

Finally at the hotel. They have a small yard on the backside for my bicycle. I’m not 100% confident about this, but what can I do?

I’m eating and eating this evening. It’s important to refill after a hard day like this. According to my garmin watch and garmin websites, I’ve burned 7133 calories today and have 3992 meters of climbs on my 124Km….I’m glad that I’ve been good with eating and drinking today, but I guess that when my adrenaline drops, it will hit me in the face, I don’t think I will have any problems sleeping tonight.

Picture album from todays ride:

GPS Data from todays ride: