Day33: 20 km south of Kotel to Sliven. A short day because of threatening weather

Surprisingly, I needed my sleeping bag to keep me warm, even before midnight, last night. I guess that was because I was sleeping a lot higher than before, even after that nice descent from Kotel. About 3 AM it started raining and I had to move stuff into the vestibule of my tent and close it up. The rain never go very heavy, but I had to dry my tent before packing it this morning.

I got up, as usual, at 7AM. It was a bit chilly then but it had warmed up quite a bit even before I got on the road about 8. I had though I was at the top of the ridge, but it was just the first of several false summits. When I did get to the real top of the ridge, there were signs warning of a 3 km 10% grade, downhill. It probably hit 10%, though I don't think it sustained it, and was a great descent with long sweeping curves on good pavement. Bulgarian hills are long!

Heading south from near my campsite

The last, and longest. climb up to the top of today's ridge

In the valley, I cruised comfortably, but slowly because of a moderately strong side wind. I was on 7 again and after about 10 km, I turned on E773. Now I had a moderate headwind, plus a very small shoulder - a few inches - and lots of high speed traffic. There were no 'no bicycling' signs and really it was just somewhat hard, because of the wind, and really focused, because of the traffic, riding.

Starting a long, fast, downhill

Baby sunflowers after the descent

Nice riding on 7

At the 7 - E773 (and several other roads) intersection, there was a small cafe selling coffee - espresso - for .5 Leu. I got two coffees and a Shopska salad. I also ate some of the bread I'm carrying and a banana. That all made for a pretty good second breakfast. I had been looking forward (?) to Burger King because of a billboard I'd seen on 7, but it must have been the other way on 773 ;-}. The local stuff tasted better and was a lot cheaper, but it would have been fun to eat at Burger King in Bulgaria.

Not so nice riding on E773

But nice views of the mountains to the north


Must have had the wind drop here
note the blurred flowers

Getting on down the road, about 40 km worth, to Sliven took till about noon. Then I had to get to a place to stay. I had not planned to stay here, but the weather got nasty as I rode into Sliven with gusty winds so strong that they actually stopped me at one point, big rain drops, and big booms of thunder. I could see rain ahead, so I stopped for some shelter and grocery store shopping. The rain let up, but the wind gusts continued, as I made my way towards the center of this city.

Pretty views from 53

A huge solar power array in front of the canyon
I would have come through if I had chosen the
shorter, but much hillier, route to Sliven last night

I spotted an Xotel - I've stayed in them before with mostly good results - and checked in about 1 PM. My large, air conditioned room is 40 Leu or about $25. The air conditioning is struggling to keep up with the heat this afternoon - 100 F heat and very strong sun - but should do fine tonight. The weather was better after I cleaned up and took a nap, but there is a 50% chance of strong storms this afternoon. I went out for a late lunch and then came back here to work, in relative comfort, on my ride reports.