Wednesday, 29 September 2010

13/09/2010 Krusevec - Derekoy (Distance 75km)

After a light, and frankly insufficient breakfast we are on the road by 9:00am. Katharina slept better thanks to the addition of my 'guitar tarp' over her single skin tent. We make a stop in Byala Voda for some food supplies. I realise how bad my diet has become now I'm with Katharina. I leave the shop with a giant pack of croissants, chocolate bar, and sugary drink. She has fruit, olives etc – perhaps time I re-evaluate.

The twenty five kilometre ride to the boarder town of Melko Tarnovo is very scenic. The hills and valleys are covered completely by lush greenery. It's beautiful. This is perhaps my favourite part of the country. I think at some point I'd like to further explore the mountainous middle of the country, but that will have to be another time. We come across a road block. The detour is a very rough track heading uphill. We take the gamble to ride over the road block and continue on the main road, unsure of what we might discover. We hurtle downhill until we find the reason for the closure. A section of the road about twenty metres long has just fallen away down the valley. The armco barrier is still intact but has pulled the concrete foundations with it as the road dropped away. It looks quite impressive.

In Melko Tarnovo I stop to send a postcard to Jess. As I sit outside the post office and write it on my knee a voice over my shoulder says “hello” in a rather non-Bulgarian accent. Geert is from Holland and riding to Istanbul with his friend Wilbert. We arrange to meet for lunch in the town centre once we have done our postage/shopping chores. With a well stocked food bag Katharina and I head to the square. Introductions out the way we get to eating a fair old feast. All sharing each others food. The guys finish their 9000km trip in Istanbul having cycled through Scandinavia and then down through Eastern Europe. We decide to ride together. And I suspect simultaneously get a case of “pedallers paranoia”. Communally we make the call to meet at the boarder for whoever is last. It's no surprise that after 9000km they make up the eight kilometre climb like mountain goats leaving Katharina and I in their dust. We catch them taking a rest at the first Bulgarian checkpoint. No real games with the officials, we are all through without difficulty.



I'm surprised to hear that the guys haven't cycled with anyone else for the duration of their trip. I on the other hand, barely feel like I've cycled alone! They decide to ride at our slower pace simply to have company. Riding as a four is lots of fun. The road on the Turkish side couldn't be more of a contrast. Four lanes of glassy tarmac with a generous hard shoulder. With my obese steed I often catch and overtake the crowd on the downhills. Only for our positions to swap back once the gradient goes against me. The down side of such a great road is the removal of “countryside charm”, the black ribbon cuts straight through the valleys and hills. I feel a slight detachment from the landscape (which suggests I should be bumping along a single track lane). I figure however, that there are worse uses for EU money...

We pick a camp spot early as we'd all like to make the most of our new found company. Off the road we cycle through fields until we are suitably hidden from view. With tents up we get on with the evening meal. Geert and Wilbert cook fresh food every night. We all throw in whatever we have. Lots of fresh veggies, tuna and pasta go on the stove. Olives, bread and cheese to start. They also share out a bottle of Bulgarian Merlot. Once the wine's finished Geert pulls out a bottle of Raki and shot glasses! These guys are prepared. We continue to chat long into the night until the bottle is empty. At which point the guys pull out their melodica's and give us some jazz classics. There's something indescribably wonderful about sitting in a random field somewhere in the far North of Turkey, with three people I hardly know, chatting, drinking, singing and laughing. At such moments it's easy to remember why I decided to do this.

As we drift off to sleep we hear wolf howls. It's much easier to get over the scared vibe when not alone. And even enjoy the beautiful sounds of the natural world.

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