The last little while has been an odd change of pace for us. With all the hostels and trains we’ve been using, we’ve felt more like backpackers than cycle tourists. It has been really fun to be among so many other like-minded people, making new friends and enjoying novelties like an indoor common area and a functioning kitchen.
Still, by last night, I started feeling anxious to be on the road again. I’ve missed my bike, missed the tiny towns, and missed seeing life in these unknown places on our own schedule. We planned to hit the road early this morning.
At six thirty, my alarm went off and in tandem so did the rain. The sound on our tent fly roared and we stayed in bed until nearly eight when the downpour stopped and we started mopping up and packing up. With our early start now foiled, we slowed our pace, ate breakfast at the hostel and paused to check in with the internet before taking off. We didn’t actually hit the road until 9:30.
Our hostel friends gave us a warm sendoff and then we were back in the same river gorge we’d ridden the other day mostly heading downhill but battling our new arch enemy: traffic.
The two lane highway was narrow, both sides creating a wall of trees, and the truck traffic came by in bursts, one after the other with many cars in between swarming in and out of the lanes, trying to get out of the cluster. Most of them breezed past us, failing to give us any extra room, the powerful slipstreams causing my heavy bike to fishtail before whipping me back onto the road. It wasn’t that we felt like we were any real danger exactly, but it sure wasn’t very fun. We frequently stopped in the roadside pullouts to regroup and let the traffic go by, scowling at our unfortunate road buddies.
After a while, we got a little creative and hooked a big stiff stick with mean-looking branches to the side of Ben’s bike, giving him an extra wide berth as he followed me. Surprisingly, it actually king of helped, and we laughed at our ingenuity as we rode on. Unfortunately, not even a big wide stick was enough to actually solve our traffic problem, so what might have otherwise been a nice ride, climbing and descending a series of small pretty hills, became a bit arduous.
When we reached the town of Byala, our intended destination for the day, we checked a price on a really inexpensive hotel, but we both felt like it was a little to early to call it quits for the day. It was, after all, only 1:00. Instead, we headed out of town, thinking we might finish tomorrow’s big climb today!
Gratefully, the road out of town was a quiet alternative to the one we’d come in on and we had the road largely to ourselves as we spun slowly up the hill. The cloud cover and even a trickle of rain was welcome as we climbed until we came upon a farm road leading to a nice clearing, secluded from the road and sorta flat. All at once, we decided to camp before the dark clouds in the distance turned to rain.
No sooner had we pitched the tent than the clouds blew away, bringing a short bout of sunny skies, leaving us to read and relax in our bug infested field. Normally, I skip making dinner on nights like these, but Ben noted that it wasn’t exactly like we were hurting for time (it was only 3:00) so he got to making some pasta for us until the rain really came.
The dark clouds marched over our clearing until they unleashed a short burst of wind and rain and then continued their procession away from our hiding spot. With no internet, we burned through the batteries on our e-readers all evening before falling asleep as soon as it got dark.