I arrived in Veliki Preslav to a donkey chained in the middle of the highway, traffic swerving back and forth around him. I’ve mentioned before the common practice of chaining your equine to the side of the highway for grazing, but the middle of the highway? Closer examination showed that the donkey had pulled free, with a chain still wrapped around one hoof. The chain was long enough to be tangled up in his feet; every time he moved, the chain would hobble him. While he was undeterred by traffic, he moved away from me, so (avoiding being hit by the traffic myself) I herded him off road, and left him munching grass by the side. Hope that worked out.
Looking for a hotel, two options presented themselves. One nearby and expensive, the other 3 km outside of town and at least reasonable in price.
At the end of the day, once I stop, I find myself disinclined to start moving again, but sometimes that’s how it goes. As I turned to head back out of town, across the street the building had a big sign – Guest House. Clearly not expecting guests (and the host was in the shower when I arrived), a mad scramble later I had a room for the night, bike securely locked in a storage shed.
I woke early this morning, with no one was around to set my bike free. While I waited, I worked on route planning. I had two choices: one route close to the mountains, the other much longer but farther from the mountains. The mountain route clearly had some climbing, crossing a contour line and having a section of road that looked suspiciously like switchbacks. A single front pannier doesnt work. Once my bike was set free, I spent about an hour Macguyvering my remaining pannier into a trunk of sorts. Likely won’t hold up over weeks, but solid enough for now. Ready to go.
First things first though, I visited the old city and palace ruins of Veliki Preslav, the reason I cycled to this town in the first place. On the other side of town of course, and uninspiring.
I left town in a weird headspace, with too many things rattling around in my head. To clear my mind, I started listening to “The Martian”, which kept me preoccupied most of the day. That preoccupation served another purpose, because today was all about up. The mountains I avoided the other day had their vengeance. Most of the day was cycling < 10 kph, slowing crawling my way up into the mountains. I’m clearly in better shape tho, and just keep going. I ended up with some great views.
That much climbing meant it was a long day of not going very far. At 60 km (almost all up) and 6 pm, I looked ahead on the map to find my options for the night. I’d been cycling with a planned destination of a campground on map, but the last few spots I’ve passed that should have been campgrounds weren’t, so I was a little skeptical. And if the campground wasn’t there, the town nearby wasn’t big enough to likely to have other options.
So I’m here.