Presov to Kosice, Slovakia

The view from half way up the third of today's four big climb

Starting out in Presov

I didn't have a good night in Presov: too much noise, too much heat, too much light, and too much back pain. I guess I shouldn't have carried my bike up stairs - only one set at a time and only a total of three short stories - yesterday. Doing that really aggravated my sore back. Tomorrow, I'll have to aggravate it again getting on and off a train. I hope it does better then!

I managed to stay in bed till 7:30 this morning, despite the fact that my room was very bright by 6 AM. I also managed to eat - from my supplies - breakfast and finish yesterdays web page despite the sweat dripping from my body. It wasn't just bright by 8 AM, it was hot.

Turning away from where I had ridden before

Climbing, heading over that ridge you see in the background.

and descending, the first hill

I rode out about 8:30, heading west. It felt really good to get out of the hot room and on the, relatively, cool road. Within half a km, I was riding next to the big park where I has stopped and snacked three years ago on my way to Levoca, Poprad, and Poland. A km later I was off that highway and on 546, climbing out of Presov. That was a pretty good 400 foot climb in about 2 km. It was quite hot on the early part, but the upper half of that climb is through a beautiful forest which completely shades the road. Nice! Near the start of the climb, I saw three tourists coming down with grins on their faces, so I figured 546 must be a good bicycling road.

Looking down on Zipov from just after the start of the big climb

After the first climb, the road descended 150 feet and then was fairly level for half a dozen km. Very nice riding through beautiful country. The small town of Rokycany was poor looking with a population that appeared to be half Roma. The Roma 'problem' is a big issue in Slovakia. The next town, Zipov, was much more prosperous looking. After Zipov, the easy riding ended.

Climbing after Zipov

The top of the climb where the powerlines go through the same gap as the road
Slovakia gets almost all its electricity from two big nuclear powerplants, so it has big high voltage lines like these running across the country

The road climbs for five km after Zipov, going up almost 900 feet. That figures out to an average grade of around 7%, but the climbing was mostly at 8 to 10% with sections of nearly flat road - 2 or 3 % feels flat when you've been cranking up a 10% grade! It was a hard climb and it was complicated by big biting flies who were circling me for most of it! I've had trouble - read: been bitten by - these flies in southern Poland, Ukraine, and now Slovakia. They are sturdy bugs who are not easy to discourage or kill. I think I did one in with my Al water bottle when it bit me while I was taking a drink, but I bruised my thigh in the process. When I hit them with my gloved hand, they just fly away and come back for another try at biting ;-{.

Near the bottom of the descent into Margecany
meeting a big truck on a bad section of pavement

The descent after that big climb was spectacular, if a bit dangerous. The danger was from potholes. There weren't many of them, but hitting one at 35 mph would not be good. The situation could have been worse - there were more bad road sections on the side that I climbed than on the side I descended.


Margecany is a pretty town in a very pretty setting. The setting is marred a bit by a big scar on one of the mountains where much of the rock has been cut away. There is a big plant below that scar. I rode through Margecany looking for a place to get some snack food - all I had left was bread and water - but didn't see any so I rode across the bridge and after checking my map. turned on what seemed to be 546 - 547 going to Kosice was straight ahead and 546 went off to the right. I stopped a way up that road to pee and a bit later to snack on bread and water. That road climbed quite a bit and seemed to be heading more north than 546 on my map. Finally, half a dozen km later, there was a sign. I was on 547, heading, roughly, for Levoca. I didn't want to go to Levoca - been there, done that - so I turned around and headed back to Margecany. Having wasted an hour and about 500 feet of climbing on that wrong road, I questioned whether I should continue east, or just head on down to Kosice.

The bridge

The river

The wrong road

An aside: I just took a beer break, walking down to a square two blocks away to have a glass of Zlaty Bazant beer. My first Zlaty on this tour. Now my back hurts, and my butt hurts, and it is a bit too warm and noisy in my room, but life, when I can get good beer for less than $1 for a half liter, is not bad ;-}.Oh, my room tonight is in the same, three star hotel I stayed at on my first time in Kosice. It is convenient to the train station and I know a good internet cafe nearby. Cost, with breakfast is about $70. Last night room was a third of that, but this one is much nicer.

When I got back to the intersection of 547 and 546, I headed east, looking for a place to eat. I found one before 547 and 456 split again.. It wasn't as good as yesterday's lunch, but it was good and, with .5 l of Saris beer, cost less than $3.

The start of the small road

Getting hard to ride, but it got much worse

At lunch, I decided that I would ride to Kosice rather than try to ride east to Bratislava. I knew it would be a hard ride with lots of climbing, but I figured I still had time for some adventure before I rode to Kosice, so I headed down a very small road that ran along the river in the direction of Kosice. This road started as a one lane, paved road and degenerated to a set of two ruts through mudholes half a dozen km later. It was great fun to ride and, on a few sections, walk, it, and it might have been possible for me to make it through to 547 after its first big climb, but that would have taken longer than riding 47, so I rode back out to the 456/547 combo and took 547 to Kosice.

Looking down on Velky Folkmar, the first town on 547 after the 546/547 split

547 was flat for a km or two and then, leaving the town of Velky Folkmar, started climbing. I knew I was in for a big climb because, coming into town, I had seen vehicles climbing switchbacks high up on the ridge behind the town. I stopped, had a shot of Coke for sugar and caffeine, some water, and took my helmet and gloves off. Then I cranked on up the hill. It was another one of those 5 km climbs. This one only climbed about 600 feet, and the bugs were not attacking me, so it wasn't as hard as the climb after Zipov.

Then 547 went downhill in a several km descent, and ran along the river where lot of folks were swimming, boating, and fishing. Then it climbed again, but only a 100 feet or so and descended a bit into another valley before starting its last serious climb. I kept hoping that one was shorter, but it went back up higher than the third climb. There were roads to ski areas at at the top, and then another great descent to near Kosice.

When i got to Kosice, I expected to ride in, find a hotel, and ask them to check on the train situation for me. That is basically what happened, but I rode all the way through Kosice, which is a big place, before finding my way back to where I had been the last time I was here. When I found railroad tracks, I stopped a fellow to ask where the main train station was. When he said it was 2 km up the tracks and I should turn at McDonalds, I knew where I was and where the hotel I has stayed at on my first visit to Kosice was and where an ineternet cafe was. The folks at the hotel called the train station to check on times and bicycle issues for me while I cleaned up, then I went to the internet cafe and put up web pages and emailed ride reports before checking the train station location and eating supper at McDs. Supper was quick and I needed to get back here to work on this web page. Now, it is only 9:30 PM. but I'm ready for bed.

It is less than 30 miles from Kosice to Presov by the expressway. I rode it in about two hours three years ago. Today I rode 60 miles in six hours and climbed 3750 feet. It wasn't an easy way to get between the two cities, but it was quite beautiful and a good way for me to end this tour.

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