I’ve probably said this before, but this was by far, the hardest ride on the tour.
Initially it was straightforward, but we knew there was going to be a tough climb after the petrol station at the 12km mark. The climb took me two and a half hours and at one point, I got off my bike and shouted some profanities until all the rage was out of my system. It was a hot day and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, so as the hours ticked by I was getting scorched while my suncream soaked sweat streamed into my eyes. I sought shade from any tree near the road, most of which were shorter and scrawnier than me.
It was encouraging to get so many waves and thumbs up from passing drivers and passengers. At this point we’ve seen more horse or donkey drawn vehicles than bicycles, so we were feeling quite unique. The ride was a bit painful when we kept thinking we reached the top, but there were more peaks and double digit gradients.
Arriving in Berovo was great, we had frappes and lunch before buying some groceries. There was a big commotion in the street, a wedding party was dancing down the street with a brass band in tow. It was so festive and everyone came out to watch and cheer, we couldn’t help but smile too.
Our accommodation was 5km away and once we settled in we checked our ride for the day. The big climb was graded as a HC (hors categorie) climb, which means it’s too difficult to be put into the standard category 1-4 scale. I was pretty chuffed that we did it, although it would’ve been better on a road bike. The rest of the evening was chilled out, Leo called his parents and I sat outside on the grass to eat a whole block of hazelnut chocolate (I did share approximately 1.5 rows of it). Overall I think we did well and at least with these tough days I can say “well that was the most difficult day, tomorrow will be easier”.