Ottoman 12: Sofia to Plodiv
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Only four days of riding left! We’ve got a lot of type-A women and men on this trip. They all make up their own minds about everything, and sometimes we don’t all go the same direction. I pretty much stick to route, with exceptions that seem to make sense to me. The rest of the riders wandered about the mountains today. Let me start the day with a picture of the hotel we were leaving in Sofia – the Sheraton – we recommend it.
Today the plan offered two routes out of Sofia. A 20 miler that headed mostly east than south to route 8, and the straight shot on route 8 itself. We split up maybe four blocks from the hotel and headed separately to the first break stop in Novi Han at the intersection of the 105 and the 8.
That’s the said intersection, with a jet on a pedestal. If you’re looking at the blog to check out riding from Sofia to Plodiv, it seems like neither route is particularly attractive, but I did manage to get to this café about a block south of the intersection and waited a half hour for the northern route team to arrive, then took another half-hour break before riding off with them.
There’s a fairly moderate uphill that starts a couple miles down the road from here, and the Bulgarians are not taking such good care of the 8 once it parallels along their nice A1 highway. Here’s a road shot.
Along the way we regularly see the rural folks going about their daily work. This next picture is of some guys bringing in a load of wood, followed by a girl bringing in the berries
I got a flat on the way up the hill, so we took a brief break while I fixed it. We’re running out of tubes and sharing the few that remain amongst us at this point. 56 miles into the day, we did make it to Vetren for dinner. They blocked off one of the roads in town with planters to make a pedestrian mall.
We rode in, looked about, picked out one a little ‘fast food’ place and got these funky wraps which contained some chicken, French fries, and cheese all rolled up. They were good.
That’s Annie smiling above while Jürgen orders.
After we left town, I got another flat and the tube I was going to replace it with was used/bad, so Annie came back to pick me up. Meanwhile the rest of the team took a long downhill not quite on the route. So Annie shuttled up Nels, Cherie and me to the top, then Lisa, Katharine and me. Here’s Nels riding away from Babar not quite at the top of the hill
Cherie, Nels and I had fun on this stretch of road. The day was beautiful, and the road conditions acceptable – to a point.
That’s Cherie taking a picture of a monument, and them riding through the forest. After maybe 10 miles, the Garmin said we were supposed to ride through a bush in the middle of the road, then up a craggy dirt and rock road. Nels and Cherie were divided on which way to go.
The side road we were on was formerly the main road. Here’s a picture of it going under the A1.
We rode on just a bit more, and it appeared that the side road might become challenging. But there was no traffic on it whatsoever, so the rest of the team decided to stick with it. I jumped off on to the shoulder of the A1 and hauled into the wind heading for Plodiv.
The rest of the team jumped into the van sometime after I went riding up, and they caught me at a MacDonalds about 17 miles down the road. I ate a bunch and had three Cokes and rode on… they drove off. Nobody liked my McDonalds or my route.
The last couple miles off the highway were straight south, so the headwind became a cross wind. But I got misdirected a couple of times on the way to the Dedeman Trimontium Princess Hotel in Plodiv. Good news was that I got a nice tour of the town. Bad news was a long day.
The Princess Hotel had spectacular indoor and outdoor pools, so we did another water feature / water event with my full participation. Then most of us headed over to the pedestrian mall for an outdoor dinner. Did I mention that the farther east we get, the more and more people seem to smoke?
Tomorrow, Turkey! Here’s the map and elevation
Bob 8/3/11 2:36p est Over Baffin Bay