After spending a week mountain biking in the wilds of Bulgaria here are my thoughts and memories of an amazing experience that was both holiday and bike adventure at the same time.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Bulgaria, firstly having checked an atlas, It turns out I didn’t even know where it was. Thankfully Thompsons did. So, the flight better left to someone else, what would it be like to trust my holiday to strangers in a country I knew nothing about? Firstly the country confounded all my expectations. Sure, without plenty of Lev my Bulgarian adventure would have been completely different. But coming from a England, your money will get you far in this colourful country. So, no need to worry about the international measure of the cost of living, the price of a pint.
We were met at the airport by Mr Bike Bulgaria, Ian and his glamorous assistant and partner Cal. Tired after a long day and late flight, cold beer on the journey up the coast to Bourgas, our base for the week, soon had us introducing ourselves to our fellow riders. Ian and Cal providing a warm welcome and steady flow of anecdotes which provided us with a visual backdrop to this colourful country full of rules seemingly made to be largly ignored!
After only a few hours sleep our adventure began, and didn’t stop for our entire stay. We soon met Dan, Ian’s right hand man, also a mountain bike guide. What followed was a week of some of the most scenicly stunning, wild and varied cross country riding, simply guaranteed to put a smile on my face that I have ever experienced. Words cannot fully do justice to the riding.
But the riding is only a part of the Bike Bulgaria experience, what’s often taken for granted is the effort behind the scenes to make a holiday like this trully memorable. Ian, Cal and Dan manage to pull off making you feel like old friends, whether it be lounging in Ian’s garden drinking beer at the end of a ride, sharing a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants, loading up the mini bus for the next days adventure. Bike Bulgaria offers something money can’t buy, a life experience in an exotic country, a riding experience that may not provide downhill adrenalin rushes, but delivers true cross country riding with excellent guides, who have local knowledge and can drop out of the forest right into a bar fronting sandy beaches with swimming in the warm waters of the Black Sea.
Bike Bulgaria offers more than simply guided riding, you come home with memories of a warm welcome, nights out with new friends in Bourgas, and the feeling of having been given a fantastic taste of this intersting and little known part of the world by people who both love and know it well.
What’s not to like. I’ll certainly be back in 2017.