Velo-trip to the Klissura's Monastery

~ 6 Sep 2011, 12:36

We did an ultra-brutal velo-trip yesterday. In short:

(click to view a larger map)

8:40: Let's go
Ivv was persuading me to have a trip to the Klissura monastery with the bikes; the climb is easy (or so the forums claim to), so it's a perfect one-day trip. I'm like "let's go", having no idea what's about to happen...
We have an very greasy breakfast around 9 - it's a tough day ahead...
We went through all of Sofia without any rests, using the Zapaden Park path (the red one on the map above). Zapaden park is somewhat nice, there are just enough people to ask for direction, but not too many, so it's not very crowded. So we reach Lulin, and after that we go round the roundabout at the begging of the Lulin expressway (the roundabout is kinda not very friendly for bikes). After that we take the road to Bankya, it's nice and easy.

11:30: Rest in Bankya

The centre of Bankya has always been a nice place. Perfect rest.
We're kind of unsure whether do we really want to climb to the monastery :)

12:30: The branchout to the monastery
We took the steep path from the Bankya centre (ul. "Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii"), and after that we got left along "Varna". You keep only straight after that. Just past the end of the city, there is a somewhat discouraging steep grade with a hairpin turn. After that the road levels off a little, but it's still steep. A few kms later you got to take the right branch, there is a sign that says "Monastery - 3km", which had the much needed psychological aid for getting us still going along the steep grade at 1 PM, strong sun, zero wind:

1:15: Klissura's Monastery "Sv. Petka Paraskeva"

We had to push the bikes for the final climb, but at some point we reached the monastery and enjoyed the beautiful view. Sofia looks so distant:

The monastery is not anything extraordinary, but the calmness there is absolute, pure quietness. There's a clearing in front of the monastery, a lot of people have parked there, towards the nearby forest, probably relaxing in the shade.

2:15: Dooooownhill...
Without a doubt, the coolest part of the route. Downhill you can easily reach 60 km/h. The traffic is practically zero (we met 2 cars during the whole descent), and the drivers are careful enough to drive slowly, because of the narrow bumpy road. My attempts at shooting a video were a fail, it's just too risky getting downhill one-handed. If anybody would suggest any safe method of descending at 40km/h and shooting a video with a compact camera, I'd be glad to hear it :)
Went 7 kilometres for 12 minutes :) And we're on the hairpin before Bankya:

2:45: Bankya again
Water refill. We have a lot left to go.

3:40: In Sofia
This time we went along bul. Slivnitsa. There's some traffic, which was enough to be unnerving. Around 3:50 we do a short stop somewhere in the Ilinden district. After that we get the same route back (where the blue and red lines converge), have a short break on Vitoshka, and at 5:45 we're finally home. 70.5 km, 5:33 nonstop drive, 12.7 km/h average speed! Yay!

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