Rusenski Lom, Bulgaria

 

Being happy to be able to do mountain biking again I figured going by car 110km North on Saturday doesn’t stop me from going 110 km South for a solo ride on Sunday. A (too fast) check on Bikemap.net and Google Earth and I had a downloaded GPX-file making it possible to enjoy Rusenski Lom – a nature preserve in North Bulgaria where three rivers are joining into one with canyons filled with wild life. There is also supposed to be 40 rock churches and over 300 caves. So…after some surfing it was already lunch time and about time to get going. Speaking of lunch… Super nutritious Shaorma take away.

I parked the car in Ivanovo at around three o’clock. 37 degrees in the shadow. Gahhh, that’s hot. Well, got my compression sock and football protection on and everything was good

Cruising down to the river/valley/canyon

I found the gravel road and was so content with myself that I got going. Downloading a GPX and everything…

I was in the area some years ago and remembered that there are supposed to be a lot of caves. And yes there were. The first ones that I came across were nicely marked like this one:

Fantastic view and bird sounds I’ve never heard before. Otherwise just silent. No people. Raptors high up in the sky. Hot. Exotic.

The gravel road turns into a trail and the trail is getting more and more overgrown, but I keep up the spirit. Yes! Several guys at Bikemap have ridden here… sort of. From having some branches in my way to biking in very high vegetation to even higher vegetation containing – I’m sure – a high concentration of endangered species, I end up in a jungle. 37 degrees… Parts of all the endangered species are sticking to my sweaty skin all over the body. I feel like in an episode of the Norwegian show “The Dahl brothers and the secret of Professor Drövels

But I’m hanging in there! I struggle for 40-50 meters and I’m getting out of the worst part and can enjoy the nature again

I keep going and suddenly this is what I see… I’m laughing out loud and the spirit is back. Wow, this is an adventure!

Even a flat tire is OK, even if it’s a bit hard to repair when having the sweat poring like out of a hose

HAHAAA! The “trail” is turning into a gravel road next to the river. Awesome!

NOOOT. The vegetation is closing up again and then I hear grunting. It’s close. Very close and it’s coming from a wild boar. From a big one it seems. I can’t see the river, which is like 3 or 4 meters behind some bushes. Is the boar between me and the river? the river only 3 meters wide here. I’m shit scared. What a Kodak moment of me being shit scared… And then I see the contours of the boar in the bushes. Even more of a Kodak moment I guess. It’s very close… This side of the river? What do I do if it’s attacking? Don’t know… But, it’s on the other side…. jeeeee. We stare at each other. Through the bushes. Across the river. It’s grunting. I’m grunting.

I continue, but more vigilant to keep out of wild boars. No wild bore this time, but an eagle is just taking off three meters away from me. I guess I scared it as it was checking out what’s for dinner tonight. That eagle was a biiig bird. Amazing view that up close. I managed to do this two more times. Those birdies are some amazing creatures.

A lot of words…. more pics… Check out the caves and the trail half way up the cliff:

The biking is OK even though it’s super slow and bumpy and with at least half a meter high vegetation. Fixing flat tire number 2 in an OK mood.

OK… I fixed flat tires, I have water, I know where I am, I’ve seen animals, the trails is tough but OK, just another 2km and I reach asphalt to get home – not bad at all. Only that the trail is vanishing into nettles and a thicket of bushes and plants with far too many thorns for my taste. It’s like a wall. A wall that will take a looong time to break down. Much longer than it took to ruin my spirit. I start cutting my way through the mess and realize that at this speed it will take hours to reach the road. It was a bad idea leaving with so poor research…. And how far isn’t it back to the car once I reach the asphalt. Jesus that GPX must have been from the ice age. After 45 minutes it’s clearing up a bit and I spot a trail up the hill. Maaaaaan was that a good feeling!

I start biking again and then I totally freeze out of fear as I’m about to bike over an old man lying across the trail. What the f***!!! where did he come from??? He stares at me, looking like a character out of the lords of the rings. My fear is turning into a suppressed laughter. He is far gone on the local moonshine and more busy getting a grip on his last cigarette in order to offer it to me, than just moving out of the way. Finally I have to walk down the slope to pass him. But I’m happy, the appearance of this dude means that civilization is not far away. And yes!

Well, remains of civilization…

Anyway.. I have arrived at a group of old houses leading out to asphalt. I’m normally not too happy about asphalt but this time… I realize that if I keep up the speed I will make it back to the car before dark. As a reward there is a dude showing up out of nowhere, with fresh honey. He wants me to have a taste.

Now, that was condensed energy! Also for the spirit. Wow, this is an adventure. I start pedaling up to the plateau again. After 5-6km I’m supposed to make a right turn onto another road…

I guess not. Gahhh… a detour of 10km. Not good for my spirit. But OK, I manage and I reach the hill down to Cherven. My God 57km/h is nice compared to 1km/h bushwhacking

The heat is taking its toll. I have water. I have chocolate, biscuits and energy gel but my brain is stuck on the idea that the only thing that can give my energy is very cold ice tea. In that moment it doesn’t help that half of Bulgaria has left for West Europe. And, it doesn’t help either that back in the 6th century if was very popular to escape the Slavic invasions in Ruse (20km North) and settle down here. the place is deserted. That’s it. And it’s been like that for a long time.

The only thing growing is probably the grave yard and the number of notices on the this wall

I see a living soul, yet old, but I don’t think she has ice tea. How will I make it?

Dammit! I have to keep going. If there is nothing to get here there is nothing until I get back to the car. Maybe an hour more… I’m so tired due to the heat. I can’t even bother about the nice view over the citadel from the 6th century. Sort of in the middle of the picture…

The temperature is down. 34 now. Like it would help. I’m terribly slow now even though the car is so close. I can’t have more compact energy or body temperature water from my Camelbak. Sorry Mr. farmer – I borrowed some grapes from you

And that’s what it took to get me going again… I made it over the last hills back to the car. Never has 50km and 800 meters of climb been so hard. And never has the map been so wrong. …Or never have I prepared so poorly…

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