WOODS AND WATER

places : ruminations : electric fantasies

19:49

Notes

Day 20: Ružinci to Vraca →

This day was another nasty Bulgarian climbing day in the 90+ degree heat. It was torturous at times. The best part of my day has become a cold shower!

I need to look closer at my maps. The one I have for Bulgaria is shit. For mountain riding I need to follow rivers, or else I have days like today, up-down-up-down, sharp climbs as well. 

In Montana I ate lunch in a park and met two kids who took pictures with me. About 15km outside Vraca I stopped in a town for some water. I met a man in front of his house and he filled up my water bottles. His daughter was there as well, she could speak a bit of english. Later, they passed me in their car, pulled over and gave me some vegetables. They also offered me a ride to Vraca which saved me about an hour.

The daughter lives in Vraca, we agreed to meet later so she could show me around. I went and found a cheap room, and had a swim in the river. Vraca is gorgeous, besides the city itself. It is situated on the edge of a national park with these steep granite peaks rising up from the town. I leave my place to meet the daughter in town and her Dad blows by me in his car, pulls over, and gives me another ride into town. I was a bit freaked out at first, maybe he was angry that I was going to meet his daughter, why else would he be out looking for me? When we saw her she was just as surprised as me.

She was dressed like a puffy pink poodle pastry. I thought she had the wrong idea. I ask where we can eat and she takes me to a Doner/Pizza establishment. They’re all out of doner so I get two slices of pizza. He English is inhibiting our conversation, we go for a awkward drink together. She tells me about her bodybuilder boyfriend who is always getting jealous when she goes out with others. I can only think about how I want to burn every hair straightener in the world.

19:29

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19:24

Notes

Day 19: Zajčar to Ružinci, Bulgaria →

Today was mostly rolling hills, besides the big climb to the border. I thought I would pass out from the heat and dehydration from not sleeping so much the night before. I got a late start as well, whoops.

When I finally reached the border I rested while the Bulgarians literally tore the car in front of me to pieces. Before heading into Bulgaria I soaked my shirt in a fountain to fight the heat.

I can’t believe that this country, and not the former Yugoslav countries, are EU members. There are animals wandering on the road, everywhere. The first few towns I passed through were abnormally populated with deformed people. Most structures are crumbling, melting.

20 August, 2010 at 1:09

1 note

This track just works with this image. I was listening to this as I was typing

0:41

1 note
This town has been a strange surprise. I stayed an extra night to rest and think Bulgaria over a bit. On the second afternoon I decided to stop at a local redneck bar for a beer and to read a bit. Zajcar has a good brewery called Zajcarsko. I was hoping for a nice Serbain waitress but I was met by this hard looking guy with the 1,000 yard stare who took my order. When I was leaving this fellow Miroslav stopped me. He’s 49 and he had been living in England for the last 20 years and just decided to move home. It was great to speak English. He called some friends over and they brought some rakija and we went swimming in the river where it had been artificially dammed.
The girl in this image is the 11 year old daughter of a his friend. She could speak some English but was too shy. We were splashing each other a bit and she yelled ‘FUCK YOUR MOTHER’ and we all had a good laugh. They teach the kids to swear young here. He told me it was completely rational, if they learn the words now they will get it out of their system and learn ‘how’ to use them instead of seeing them as this forbidden thing. And it’s just precious when an 11 year old tells you to go fuck your mother.
After swimming we bought some chicken wings and went back to Miroslav “Mike’s” friend’s place. He boiled them in fine Zajcarsko beer over a fire and we feasted like kings. Two teenage girls game by later and one told me how she had been a heroin addict since she was 15, but had since quit. She had Kurt Cobain pins. We talked about God.

This town has been a strange surprise. I stayed an extra night to rest and think Bulgaria over a bit. On the second afternoon I decided to stop at a local redneck bar for a beer and to read a bit. Zajcar has a good brewery called Zajcarsko. I was hoping for a nice Serbain waitress but I was met by this hard looking guy with the 1,000 yard stare who took my order. When I was leaving this fellow Miroslav stopped me. He’s 49 and he had been living in England for the last 20 years and just decided to move home. It was great to speak English. He called some friends over and they brought some rakija and we went swimming in the river where it had been artificially dammed.

The girl in this image is the 11 year old daughter of a his friend. She could speak some English but was too shy. We were splashing each other a bit and she yelled ‘FUCK YOUR MOTHER’ and we all had a good laugh. They teach the kids to swear young here. He told me it was completely rational, if they learn the words now they will get it out of their system and learn ‘how’ to use them instead of seeing them as this forbidden thing. And it’s just precious when an 11 year old tells you to go fuck your mother.

After swimming we bought some chicken wings and went back to Miroslav “Mike’s” friend’s place. He boiled them in fine Zajcarsko beer over a fire and we feasted like kings. Two teenage girls game by later and one told me how she had been a heroin addict since she was 15, but had since quit. She had Kurt Cobain pins. We talked about God.

0:18

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Day 18: Donji Milanovac to Zajčar, land of Serbian beer →

I thought this day was pretty nasty climbing, but I had yet to experience Bulgaria. I climbed over 3000 feet though in 40 or so miles. I woke up late wondering if I should stay another night. I didn’t as I’d only been riding for two days since Belgrade. The major climb up to Luka felt like I was on top Serbia, you could see forever from the summit, minus the HUGE Half-Dome like peak off to the west. In Dolni Bela Reka I stopped for a beer with these old drunks at a roadside shack ‘kiosk.’ I love how people out here go on running their mouths with no consideration of my inability to speak coherent Serbian. Luckily there was a nice old woman, comrade, who could speak calmly to me and with enough patience for me to understand. She had family in the US.

The next big climb wasn’t so much altitude but STEEP and hot as hell at 3pm. I decide to stay in Zajcar 2 nights to think about how I’ll take down Bulgaria.

19 August, 2010 at 13:47

Notes

Why are you not at Guča? Why are you here reading this? Who will win the Serbian vixin? Who’s brass will blow hardest? Not you, or me for that matter…

It is the 50th anniversary of this Serbian brass competition/festival this year, and I’m sitting in rainy Berlin. Damn

18 August, 2010 at 13:15

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13:12

Notes
People swim in the Danube in these parts. I can’t understand. In this river is all the filth from Linz, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade, and not to mention Vukovar. Every time a drunk pees in an alley in Budapest, every time someone vomits in the street in Bratislava, and all the nuclear filth from around Belgrade, all this flows into this great river. I don’t care how hot it is, I’m not swimming!

People swim in the Danube in these parts. I can’t understand. In this river is all the filth from Linz, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade, and not to mention Vukovar. Every time a drunk pees in an alley in Budapest, every time someone vomits in the street in Bratislava, and all the nuclear filth from around Belgrade, all this flows into this great river. I don’t care how hot it is, I’m not swimming!

13:04

Notes

Serbija mountain music for bike riding

13:03

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12:58

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Day 17: Pozarevac to Donji Milanovac →

Today was such a glorious day. I woke up early and some men at a bike shop bought me coffee and helped with my routing. By doing an early climb I saved maybe 30 km. In Usije the Danube begins to widen into this inland sea called the “Silver Sea”. It becomes constipated because of the ‘Iron Gate’ the tight canyon between the mountains of Serbia and Romania. As the Danube is an ancient trade route from the Black Sea into Europe there are Roman ruins here up in the cliffs and the road cuts through a medieval castle. 

After Golubac I had a nasty climb which was proceeded by several long tunnels where I was scared for my life. I couldn’t find my rear light so I waved my front one around with my hand like a siren. Luckily there was almost no traffic.

12:36

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12:29

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Day 16: Belgrade to Pozarevac →

Today was absolutely nasty riding. Leaving Belgrade was extremely stressful as there is no bicycle infrastructure, and I was following the Euroradweg which I had already lost faith in back in Germany. It just took me on really random routing decisions. I trusted it at first as my map wasn’t so good. I rounded the Belgrade castle on the north shore with the Danube heading towards the bridge to cross the river. The ride out of the city would be much flatter this way! But the Euroradweg routed me back up into the center of the city and then back down to the river to cross this nasty bridge with heavy truck traffic and a Cambodia quality sidewalk. In all it took me about 3 hours to leave the city.  Every time I use this bike route I start cursing myself. Once across the river it routed me down a dirt path where I was chased by dogs and then a grass field in the middle of nowhere. So I said screw it, and took the highway.

When I arrived in Kovin after some nice countryside riding, I knew I needed to cross the Danube once more. At this point I was on the Euroradweg route and it was telling me to go the opposite direction. I smelled trouble and pulled out my map. At this moment, a gypsy family blew by me in a horse cart full of rusting steel scrap. The father halted the horses, jumped off the cart and grabbed the map out of my hands. He was completely drunk. He pointed in a direction without me telling him where I was going, and said ‘kupi mi pivo’ ’ buy me a beer.’ I said no and he became frustrated.

Before I left Belgrade, Alex and Ben gave me a bottle of rakija in case I ran into any trouble. If someone was harassing me I could pull it out and just say, “don’t hurt me, let’s drink!” So this fellow saw the bottle and grabbed it out of my bag. “Rakija?” he said. “da da da.” He took a swig and looked at me in a way that screamed “why are you still standing here” I said “that’s my rakija, fuck your mother, jebem ti mater”, but I didn’t want to fight. So I rode off. I just feel bad that he probably went home to beat his wife or something…

Today I started photographing roadside memorials. There is something haunting about them. Maybe it is because I ride by these memorials to the dead as trucks blow by me and the faces of these people watch from the roadside like I’m in the Tour-de-France. I hope I don’t jinx myself by confronting them.