Day37: Vilingrad to Razlog, a good day in the mountains

Today turned out to be a easier day than I expected. Part of that was my new walk when it makes sense strategy. Another part of that was that, for the third time, I got suckered by ridewithgps' climbing figures. That isn't ridewithgps' fault, it is simply a problem with the way climbing is calculated from altitude data that is based on a grid. When the road being used runs through steep terrain, spuriously large altitude changes with be calculated because the points on the grid don't fall exactly on the road. With really steep slopes, a small distance off the road will have large altitude deviations from the road. These deviations add up to give total climbing and descending numbers much larger than the real values. I first noticed this in a canyon in northern Idaho a few years ago, and then again, last fall on a road in the mountains of Arizona.

Today, the climb up from Vilingrad to Yundola was pretty close to what ridewithgps said it would be, but the climbing from Yundola to Razlog was much less than what ridewithgps said. In reality, there was bit climbing and descending after Yundola and then a long descent to Krashte. Ridewithgps had about 350 m - over 1000 ft - of climbing in that section that was an artifact cause by the very steep slopes near the road in most of that section. As a result, I though I was going to have another 1000 feet of climbing that just didn't exist. That made my day about 2/3 as hard as expected.

Notice my bike is on the shady side of the road
One of the things I started doing was walking when the shade was on the left
Also notice road construction that went on for almost the entire climb

The other major factor was that I, reflecting on yesterdays wipeout climb, realized that I should have been walking, not riding on the steepest sections of that climb. I've always prided myself on not walking on any slope less than about 20%. With a loaded bike and 24/32 gearing, I can ride, reasonably efficiently up to maybe 8%. After that, if I can't zig-zag, I'm better off walking.

Would you believe, Lidl had a special going on
American style peanut butter. I ran out in Romania
so I was delighted to be able to get some more

Great rest spot at 1200 m
Today's top altitude was about 1450 m

This view looks a lot like views from the Blue Ridge Parkway looked 25 years ago
Now the eastern US has too much air pollution for long range views in the summer
One of the reasons I like touring in Europe is cleaner air

Today's climb do not have slopes as steep as yesterdays - probably a max of 9% rather than maybe 12% - and I, given the shape my legs were in after yesterday's abuse, switched back and forth between riding and walking as it seemed appropriate. I think I walked about 1/4 of the climb up to Yundola. I rested a bit more than yesterday to, so I arrived in Yundola about 1 PM where yesterday I arrived at Batak about noon. Both climbs were for about 20 km, but today's climb gained about 100 m less in that distance.

Today, when I reached Yundola, I was walking. I got on my bike before the climb stopped and my legs were tired but fine. I stopped for lunch at a small cafe that had some local bread items and had beer - Radler - bread and cheese and a double espresso for about $3. There was a restaurant just down the road, but I went for the simple, cheaper, option.

The descent, after a few km of up and down, was long and would have been fast, but the road condition almost Ukrainan. I did lots of pothole slaloming on the way down. The potholes were not a constant factor, but potholed road sections happened often and unpredictably. It still was a very nice descent, but it required a lot of braking and pretty much constant attention to the road surface.

Graveyard at Dagonovo

All of the small towns had mosques
Note the minaret near the left edge of this image

The road got somewhat better after it flattened out, but there was also a hot headwind slowing me down. I stopped, about 15 km for my destination, at a fancy service station, for a beer thinking I'd be there soon.

The cutest of six springs I passed today
Most of them had people waiting to fill water bottles

Then, a few km later, there was a detour. That added about 15 km and at least 250 m of climbing to the ride. It was very frustrating to be 6 km - straight line - from my destination - and then to have to ride away from it for 45 minutes and then ride back to the river it was on, but starting downstream 8 km past it.

On the detour

Ski lift

I stopped at a country tavern about 5 km from Razlog to have supper and two beers. I processed images while drinking the second beer. Then I cranked on to this ski resort area. The first hotel I checked out was closed for the season. The second one was merely inactive. I walked in and found the security guard in the restaurant. No one else was here, so he called for instructions, looked at my passport, showed me my room and where to put my bike - in the ski room of course - and took my 40 Lev. Tomorrow at 8 AM someone is supposed to be here to actually register me and give me my 4 Lev change. 36 Lev is just under $25, so I'm not complaining about lack of airconditioning and breakfast ;-}. It really is a very nice room in a *** hotel with a great view of the mountains.