People Bicycled With Us



The Biggest Group

June/July 2016


      October 2014 I and Ken have began to speak about 3 week bicycle tour in Bulgaria, and the moment for it comes. So, I and Maya will be glad to guide this big group in Rodopi Mountains.

      WELLCOME Ken&Mimi, Eric&Devon, Bob&Donna, Rick&Theresa, Terry&Anne !!!

       So far we did not guide so big group. I will bicycle with them, Maya will support us by a car.

Ken & Mimi
Bob & Donna
Rick & Theresa Terry & Anne Eric & Devon
I and Maya


      Well, I can say that so far I have never bicycled with so fast bicyclists. In fact bikers among the group were racers, not touring bicyclists like me. Luckily Maya were able to follow them by the car (I arrived 1-2 hours later). Never mind, I think in the end it was a really exciting tour - we explored Rodopi Mountains.

 

      In the end I would like to mention, an exciting 380 page novel can be written about this trip, unfortunately my abilities are in other field, so I leave it to Ken's summary and Eric's blog: http://northwestbybike.blogspot.bg/

     Ken's Summary:

 

     19. 06. 2016

      First of all, indulge spelling and grammar errors. Due to recent eye surgery my ability to read is temporarily compromised. Auto spell still works it's mischief but I often cannot see what I typed. Photo captions are affected by the, too. 
      We are now in Dolna Banya, a small town at the foot of the mountains a 54 mile ride SE of Sofia., Bulgaria.  We are at about the same elevation as Sofia (1800-1900 feet), doing 1900 feet up and 1900 feet down to get here.
      We did not start cycling until Sandy.  On Saturday in Sofia it was upper 90s so we took cabs to Mt. Vitosha, a 7400 foot mountain just outside of Sofia. We took 2 chairlifts up the the 5400 foot level and hiked 2.5 miles to the top. There is a very small place to buy beer up there so a few of us had beers with sandwiches that Boris (our Bulgarian cycling guide) had packed up.   We then hiked down a different route, 5.5 more miles to the top of a gondola, which we took all the way down another side of the mountain to the 1800 foot level in the suburbs of Sofia.

      Photos of the hike and today's ride are at:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6297927338463123553?authkey=Gv1sRgCJW73tT36c_z9AE#

 

      We started to ride out of Sofia at 7 a.m. in minimal Sunday morning traffic for the first 10 miles after which traffic was generally light to non existent.  It was already over 70 degrees when we started.  We had a great stop for crepes after about 29 miles.  2.5 lev ($1.40)  for a huge crepes big enough for 2 people. A big well made coffee was 1 lev----30 cents!

      We arrived at a pleasant hotel where a half liter of very good draft beer is 2.4 lev---$1.42.

      Dolna Banya means Lower Bath. The area has hit springs, so of course hotel had a pool and tub.

      The route is in the link at the bottom of this email. You should get an option to open the link in Google Earth If you right click n it, or press and hold on an iPad. Just tapping the link will give you an exciting list of numbers.

      22. 06. 2016

      We have finished our third day of riding. Each day has ended in different geography. Dolna Banya (end of the first day) was at about 1900 feet in the beginning of foothills to higher mountains, with a major ski area some distance away with high speed lifts (Borovets). The next day's ride was a long gradual descent ending in the flat plain around Varvara, at about 900 feet. Today we had a short 20 mile ride, but the last 11 miles was a major climb to St Konstantin. St. K. is a small village of mostly newer vacation homes at 4355 feet. There are indications that there is a small poma lift here in the winter, not much more than a small beginner's hill.  See photos.

 

      Weather so far has been very good, although a little on the warm side. It is much more comfortable up here.

 

      Prices are often surprisingly low. See the photos for prices of Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels. Lunch for two with two beers runs about $8. And from the standpoint of square footage, space, and quality of the room, the hotel at St. K. provides about the best bang for the buck anywhere we've been. 50 lev, or $30, for a large apartment in a new facility.  German quality at way below Mexican prices.

 

      A picture of the map of th ride, and kml and gpx files, are provided below courtesy of my Bad Elf.

 

      Photos of Dolna Banya to Varvara are at:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6298730092878900833?authkey=Gv1sRgCISq0Myk4ZP52AE#6298730629281255170

 

      Varvara to St. Konstantin are at: 

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6298732049912129425

 

      Varvara to St. Konstantin 2016-06-21 Details:

 

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

3h16m

19.63mi

6.0mph

Tue 21 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:42.020649

Max:42.158054

Min:24.141048

Max:24.256092

Speeds

Avg: 6.0mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 26.9mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 3,574ft

Min: 823ft

Max: 4,397ft

Diff: -

      A few comments about cycling in Bulgaria. Thanks to Boris's local knowledge all of the riding has been on very quiet roads, with an occasional short section of modest traffic. Road quality is generally good, occasionally very good, and thanks to Boris, rarely very bad.  We have only had one section of about 4 km where the surface was more pothole than pavement.  Autos and trucks are patient and pass safely.

 

      I knew before I decided to come here that although Bulgaria has a history, it is markedly less visible. Very few towns have old buildings, as in 15-19 century. I guess things kept getting destroyed here.  You don't have the feeling that you get cycling through the much of the rest of Europe (and especially Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain and Italy) that you are cycling through history. Since I knew that, why did I come?  Because after reading Boris's web site I thought it would be fun to cycle Bulgaria with Boris and his daughter.  I have not been disappointed.

 

      The ride today was only 35 miles to a small town, Yundola.  

      The last ten miles we up hill, but not as steep as yesterday. Some of us had contemplated riding an extra 20-25 miles and 2300 feet up to a reservoir, but when we got to Yundola we took a short stop.   After a beer or two, bread, cheese, chicken soup, and chicken kabobs we skipped the reservoir. Good thing. We hired an extra car (in addition to our Ford Focus sag) and drove up. It would have been a grueling end to an otherwise pleasant ride.

      Below are Bad Elf tracks of the ride in a photo, kml and gpx file. Photos of the ride today are at:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6299017999636297121#

 

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

5h25m

35.05mi

6.5mph

Wed 22 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.938866

Max:42.065128

Min:23.853258

Max:24.223946

Speeds

Avg: 6.5mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 32.6mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 2,201ft

Min: 2,434ft

Max: 4,635ft

Diff: 

     

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6299017999636297121?authkey=Gv1sRgCITUm7v3tN7F7AE

 

      Yundola to Dobrinishte. 2016-06-23 Details

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

4h39m

38.70mi

8.3mph

Thu 23 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.820778

Max:42.064026

Min:23.491760

Max:23.854439

 

Avg: 8.3mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 31.5mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 2,312ft

Min: 2,436ft

Max: 4,748ft

 

      25. 06. 2016

     Per the prior email we arrived in Dobrinishte on Thursday.  We spent all day Friday in and around Dobrinishte, Bansko, and the mountains. More chairlifts up to 7300 feet, narrow gauge train ride to Bansko, a thunder storm Friday afternoon after we were ell situated in our pension drinking our hosts excellent home made wine.

      Saturday we had another 20  mile downhill to Ognyanovo. After a short stop at the rooms Boris arranged, most of us elected to ride another 11 miles and 2400 feet up to a village above a gorge, Kovachevitsa.  Houses there are all stone with slate roofs.   Then we had a long descent back to the rooms. Then beer, a swim in a small pool, dinner (choice of lamb, spaghetti, chicken kebabs) wine, Johnny Walker and Bulgarian brandy.  

      Weather remains perfect. Some tandems said "best ride ever." Boris and Maya say each day will be better than the last.  After a full week with them, I have complete confidence in them.

      

      Pictures are at:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6299773264883188769?authkey=Gv1sRgCIiXvsPd4--cZw

      and

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6300147486731775009?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ7_2IDt04iI7AE

 

      Bad Elf map of today's ride, followed by links to GPS and kml, follow. The kml will open in Google Earth.

 

      Dobrinishte to Ognyanovo and Kovachevitsa Details

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

7h59m

45.12mi

5.6mph

Sat 25 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.601505

Max:41.825935

Min:23.565372

Max:23.834188

Speeds

Avg: 5.6mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 31.3mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 1,879ft

Min: 1,741ft

Max: 3,620ft

Diff: -

       Ognyanovo to Dospat:

       https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6300511626934689841?authkey=Gv1sRgCNDgg9ifrpXy5gE

      Ognyanovo to Dospat June 26,2016 Details

 

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

4h23m

30.73mi

7.0mph

Sun 26 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.562275

Max:41.648235

Min:23.784081

Max:24.160721

Speeds

Avg: 7.0mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 29.8mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 2,813ft

Min: 1,666ft

Max: 4,479ft

Diff: -

 

 27. 06. 2016

      Each day just gets better and better. Today (Monday) we had a beautiful but short ride in the sunshine through a narrow gorge. Arrived at the Hotel Yagodina to sounds of "welcome to the Hotel California." We had enough time to order beer but not drink it before the thunderstorm struck. Here are links to photos of Sunday and Monday, followed by Bad Elf maps and files of Both rides. The kml file at the bottom opens in Google Earth.

Dospat to Yagodina:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6300842715475227729?authkey=Gv1sRgCKGo2uXLvcivAQ

 

      Dospat to Yagodina 2016-06027 Detail 

 

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

2h44m

18.96mi

6.9mph

Mon 27 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.633076

Max:41.683632

Min:24.158817

Max:24.351624

Speeds

Avg: 6.9mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 29.0mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 1,729ft

Min: 2,825ft

Max: 4,554ft

Diff: -

      In Yagodina, we were treated to a group of 4 local ladies doing traditional Bulgarian folk song and dances. These ladies then encouraged several members of our group to don Bulgarian folk garb and participate.   

      After the old night of dancing we rode partway back down the gorge shown in my earlier email. We the made a hard right turn up another gorge to "The Devil's Throat." This large underground cave is the entrance to Hades, and is the location where Otpheus entered the underworld to bring Eurydice back. He made it out, she did not. We did not see her.

  

      Photos are included at:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6301664165325418145?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ-v66nSvfna1wE

 

      The big almost flat spot in the altitude graph below is the time in Devil's Throat.  Despite the long way down, we ended up higher than when we entered the cave.  We were all surprised to walk back down.

 

      Jagodina to Devil's Throat and Devin June 28, 2016 Details

Duration

Distance

Avg. Speed

Date

4h08m

25.69mi

6.2mph

Tue 28 Jun 2016

Latitude

Longitude

Min:41.613937

Max:41.742805

Min:24.331623

Max:24.426628

Speeds

Avg: 6.2mph

Min: 4.0mph

Max: 23.5mph

 

GPS Altitudes

Avg: 1,536ft

Min: 2,256ft

Max: 3,792ft

Diff: -

      From Devin we have had good riding down to Pazardzhik.  Photos are at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/mfield8888/6302335083092983569?authkey=Gv1sRgCImenOKpyvfXmAE#

 

      Devin and "Chilingira".

      Back to Sofia.

      That's all. One of the most amazing tour I have done. I hope to repeat this great tour one day again.

 

      Here is the link to Eric's blog for the same tour we did 19th June - 2nd July 2016:

      http://northwestbybike.blogspot.bg/


       Janiuary 2017 Theresa visited Maya and her little baby Rumy in Sofia.  


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