Wednesday, 9 May 2012

9 May Stage 27 Razgrad - Shumen

Dep 10.30     Arr 3.30      Dist   56.3 km      Total  2941.3 km

I awoke to the sound of heavy rain battering the window and turned over. When I came round again the rain had stopped but I could hear the cars outside slushing through the water. I didn't fancy starting in the rain so took my time getting ready. I went down for breakfast and all of a sudden Benny Hill couldn't understand my German. He could see my disappointment so pointed to the coffee machine. I asked for change and he pushed a coin towards me and refused my note. I suppose it was only 50 lev (2.4 to the pound) so I wasn't too bothered. I finished getting ready and spent 10 mins fiddling with th e bike before setting off. The road I had planned to take out of town was one way - the other way - and there wasn't an obvious one parallel so I just pushed the bike through the town and hit the open road. It was cloudy but the threat of rain wasn't there. Again, it wasn't too hot and no wind, just right.

Shumen was only 50km away from Razgrad and the next planned stop, Karnobot, was 110km from Shumen with some biiig climbs. I had to decide whether to stop at Shumen and try to get the bike sorted or to push on 30km or so to make the next day easier. This debate occupied my thoughts for a while until I came upon a little roadside shack or cafe in the middle of nowhere with beautiful countryside all around. I went in and tapped on the counter. A lady appeared with a phone to her ear. I gestured for her to carry on and went outside. She appeared soon enough and I made an eating mime. She said something like kebab and my eyes lit up. I said something like cartofi which I thought was potatoes and she nodded. I also asked for coffee and water, big. She came out with my muddy coffee and a bottle of delicious water, never thought I'd ever say that, and then with a plate of sausage and chips which was very tasty. I sat there getting all philosphical thinking, we are all trying to get somewhere but, at times, we should just enjoy where we are, like I was doing. I decided to ring Robin on the hotline to Newburgh and run through my ideas with him. He reckoned the cheap stuff I got in Giurgiu wouldn't last and could leave me stranded again. So, the decision was made to stop at Shumen, which looks like a pretty big place, and find a little bike shop. A friendly, English-speaking receptionist (FESP) would be crucial to my plans.

I knew there was a big hill right in the middle of today's ride butI hadn't expected it to be quite as hard. On the Saddleworth scale it measured at about 8 out of 10. The down bit was fun again though and I got to the Shumen at about three. There were posters for hotels all over the place as I rode into the town. I came across one named Rimini which was over-posh inside and wasn't my type of place (or price). I suspected there were other types of goings on there, nod nod, wink wink. I had written down some phone numbers from the internet and rang a couple for prices and to check on the good nature of the receptionist, who would become a key person in the day's proceedings. The Madara it is then. On the way there I passed the Shumen Hotel which looked very nice. I decided to ask the price and a really friendly English-speaking receptionist informed me I could have a budget room for 50 lev with breakfast and 10% off dinner. That's what I paid that lowlife last night. I accepted and explained my requirements with regard to the bike. She said she would try to help. I put my stuff in the rooom and put things on charge and got changed. I came down and she drew me a map. I rode to the place on the map but all I could see was a door with a few prams and kids bikes outside. There was a sign with a picture of a bike over the door and I thought this must be it. The sop was a corridor with a counter at the other end. I went in and said "mechanic?" which confused a lady sitting there behind a counter. An older man, OK about my age, came and I took hime outside to try to explain what had happened and what I wanted. A younger man, who turned out be Stanislav, then appeared and we made some progress. He went off and came back and handed me his phone. It was his son, Dejan, who spoke English very well. My bike was brought through into a large rear yard which had lots of bikes in various stages of repair. The three of us discussed options and the outcome is that I will go back there at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning and my bike will have decent bits on it and will be serviced and cleaned. Stanislav is a Shimano-trained mechanic and has built and rebuilt bikes for 20 years or so.

I walked around for a bit and got a chicken donner. There was an event going on in a square with speeches and a sort of brass band and then a group of about 40 soldiers ventured forth with fantastic tenor voices - tremendous. I then changed some money and got a taxi to the hotel. I had to have a beer by the fountain in reception, see twitter, and then went up for a bath, yes a bath again. I may have a sauna before dinner. I am confident the bike will be much better as a result of my decision to stop here and Robin must take the credit for that decision.

I need an early night though. Hard day tomorrow.

Today's track

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