My experiment with camping in this heat wave was successful. I slept better than I had slept in a non air conditioned room the night before. In fact, I got marginally cold using nothing but my hi-tech sleeping bag liner to keep me warm and had to put on my DuoFold top in the middle of the night. Tonight I'm in a fancy hotel where the air conditioning doesn't seem to be able to handle the heat. After moving to a room where the AC at least cools a little, I think I'll be able to sleep OK with no covers. I won't be as comfortable as I was in my tent, but I will be more comfortable than I was the night before. Hopefully breakfast will at least have good coffee tomorrow morning.
This morning, I got up about 7 and was on the road by 8. I still had a good bit of that hill to climb, but the slope was gentler than on the lower part. I used my GPS to measure the altitude when I finally got to the top and the total climb was pushing 200 meters. As a mountain bicyclist, I consider climbs of over 500 feet to be 'big,' This one was big.
After a bit of rolling hills, a serious, and really nice, descent followed. Even early this morning, I needed a lot of cooling after that climb. Then there was some more climbing, but nothing big, and very nice riding on new asphalt. Then coming down yet another long hill, I saw that pavement on 7 went away at the bottom of that hill. 7 seemed to continued up over the next hill, but it looked like road bed rather than road.
The end of paved 7
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I found 7 detoured on old road going east. This was yet another event in the seemingly unending series of events called 'the distance to Shumen gets longer.' As it turned out this detour only added a few km and, in return, took me through a town where I Was able to get some coffee and a candybar at yet another 'cafe' that didn't actually serve real food. The coffee was Nescafe, but I still appreciated it.
Climbing over the ridge before the big downhill
Seeing mountains ahead on the long downhill
Still cranking along a 20 mph
The end of the long downhill
Shortly after getting coffee, I turned south again and climbed another hill. It wasn't too bad and, after a flat section, I rode downhill, at ~20 mph, for what felt like half an hour. When I got to the bottom, I checked the altitude loss and it was about 400 m - well over 1000 feet. The entire descent was on nice new pavement.
As expected, I had some more climbing to do and then another short descent to an expressway that links Sophia and Varna. Busy road that, and of quite variable quality, but it had a restaurant - glorified truck stop - that served real breakfast. Since that was the first real meal I'd had since yesterday's breakfast, I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed being able to clean up in their bathroom and refill my water bottles. Now I just needed a grocery store in Shumen and I'd be ready to crank on towards the mountains.
Going into Shumen
Waiting on a light in Shumen
Pretty street in Shumen
Shumen is not the most beautiful of cities, mostly consisting of large soviet style apartment blocks in various states of disrepair, but it met my needs and I rode though some pretty parts of town in the process of getting around the huge ridge that ends just west of the town.
Part of the end of the ridge
Downhill on 7 after Shumen
Looking at the other side of the ridge that ends at Shumen
There was a good bit of climbing going through Shumen and a big descent once I got back to 7 on the north side of town. 7 was of pretty good quality on the descent, which was good because I was going pretty fast, but it degenerated as I rode southwest towards the next ridge of mountains. The next big town, V. Preslav, is about 20 km southwest of Shumen. I hoped, but didn't count on, being able to stop there for lunch. That actually happened.
Riding on the wrong side of 7 to avoid bad pavement
In V Preslav
My reflection at the Oasis
V. Preslav is not on 7, it is on 73, a road that goes west in a valley between two mountain ridges. When I considered my routing while waiting for my lunch at The Oasis, and it really was a food oasis in the middle of a 'cafes that don't serve food' desert, I decided I would continue on 73 rather than going on 7. My major motivation for this was that it was a long way, through the mountains on a lousy road, to the next services on 7. By going to Targovishte, I added 20 km to my route, but there were services - places to eat and places to stay there - and, although I knew it would be a hilly 20 km, I also knew I could make it. I couldn't say the same about staying on 7. Tomorrow I will deal with riding 80 km through the mountains, but that will be my task for the entire day, not the afternoon as it would have been today. Oh, and 73 is much more pleasant to ride that 7 was near V Preslav.
Climbing out of V. Preslav
The road clinbed all the way through town
but was steepest climbing out of town
Pretty, shaded section of 73
Riding on the wrong side of the road to stay in shadow
It was damn hot in the sun!
Looking south at the next ridge
Cutting wheat, everybody is doing it, with sunflowers in the background
I was passed by the Bulgarian equivalent of a US Combine Crew on 73
One of half a dozen small towns near 73
Pretty downhill followed by uphill
I rode a lot of these on 73
Steep climbing on 73
Coming into Targivishte
When I got to Targovishte, my GPS knew of two places to stay. On my way to check out the first of those, I saw a sign for the Idol Hotel. It was only two blocks, instead for four km, away, so I went to check it out. Nice looking place with well thought out rooms and, of course, air conditioning. 25 E - 50 BG - for their smallest room. I went for it.
I cleaned up, uploaded yesterdays page to crazyguy, and took an hour nap. My room was still hot despite the fact that it air conditioning had been running for two hours. I went down to get some supper and complain about the AC. That ended up with me going to a neighborhood store for beer, yogurt, and a sandwich and getting switched to another room. This one has air conditioning that cools a bit. My room is not even really cool after three more hours, but the room is cool enough that I should be able to sleep OK.