Day 17, Kyustendil to Sofia, BG

Nobody told me I'd me climbing several km of 12% grade today

Touring is full of surprises, and my surprise for today was a big hill between Kyustendil and Sofia. I started as a long 7% grade, then the road surface deteriorated and the grade went to 10%, then there were a few km of gentler climbing, and it finished with about 2 km at 12%. It was over an hour of hard climbing over about 10 km. After that things went downhill, but at a grade of no more than 7%.

The road to Sofia near Kyustendil

My day started well with a decent breakfast. I was told I'd have to wait till 9 AM for breakfast, but the lady who was running the motel found me working in my 'living room' at 8, and said come on down for breakfast. After breakfast, I finished my ride report and packed up. i was on the road about 9:15. My departure was delayed a bit by loose screws in my pedals. A 'feature' of the 5050x pedals is replaceable metal plates and a well know bug is the fact that the screws hold those plates on tend to unscrew and fall out. On of mine fell out on that long downhill into Kyustendil. I tightened the others. and rode off.

The horse is puling a plow and the man is hoeing weeds

The first 15 km of the ride were easy, mostly downhill on good roads. The the road when out of the valley and climbed over several ridges. I'd estimate the total climb at over 1500 feet. It started as a 7% grade, got steeper, got gentler, and finished with 2 km of 12% grade. The hardest climb of this tour.

After a long 5 to 7% downhill on mostly rough road, I ended up riding in a beautiful, and peaceful, valley with mountains ahead. This is what I think of as typical of Bulgaria. There were two towns on my route. The road climbed almost continuously through first, and smaller, town. I stopped at a small market to get a replacement for my MK lemonade which I had use up during that hard climb. I had to settle for a BG orange drink which wasn't as good, but still, with bread made a decent snack.

Looking back at the first town

The road went down hill again after the first town and into another flat valley. I stopped in the middle of that valley for lunch. It is fun ordering lunch when you no only don't know the language, but also have to deal with Cyrillic. Still. I got a good lunch.

The next city Pernik, is large and the road took a long, and indirect route through it. I stopped again in an industrial area to take a break and give my seat a rest from the bumpy road.

Leaving Pernik with 22 km to got to Sofia

After Pernick there were more more hills and then a long 5 to 6% descent into Sofia. It was as long, or longer than the descent into Kyustendil, but the road was rough - with some pot holes - and curvy and the traffic was heavy. It beat me up, even with my softride stem, and, near the end of the downhill well inside Sofia, ejected my orange drink bottle. I heard it hit the pavement and stopped. When I looked back it was spraying orange drink from several places and traffic was coming so I rode on.

After the bad pavement, I rode five (?) km of cobblestone to get to the center of Sofia. Then I started looking for a place to stay with an internet connection. The only thing available was an over priced, and huge, hotel with a casino. I really didn't want to stay here, but it was all I could find. I'm in an 80 E room - their economy room - with non function air conditioning, but a good wired internet connection. The bed is comfortable, I slept well, breakfast was very good and most things work OK, but I was annoyed that they didn't warn me about the air conditioning and, when I complained, BSed about it.

Now I need to get on the road for a short day - I'll be leaving by noon. I hope I can find a better place to stay tonight!

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