Hugging the slopes of the Pirin Mountain Range is the small town of Bansko. It is also a ski area in Bulgaria. We had a very nice walk in this area from the Vihren Hut to the Okoto lake and surroundings. We were still a bit early in the summer season because snowfields were abundant on this altitude.
Usually if it is a winter sport area, one of the summer activities is mountain biking. Bansko is no exception. It took a while to find some route suggestions, but: this is a nice site to start. Sadly the links point to GPSies and this site has been changed to Alltrails. It was not possible to locate the GPX here. Too bad. I liked GPSies; it was an open source community for GPS tracks and now, similar to Trailforks, there’s this push to get a “pro subscriber account”: in other words: pay. In my opinion this is a construction where you have to pay for work Alltrails and Trailforks did not do in the first place. I don’t like this “development” but it’s a fine example of capitalism and no doubt it is legal. Luckily all is not lost: the info can also be found here and here. And of course I can share my GPS track.
Based on my starting point I decided to do the Flying Scotsman and the Dead Dog. Te titles got m interest. The Flying Scotsman is a very nice track. I started already quite late in the afternoon and the air was hot and humid. Surely a thunderstorm could be expected later this day. I did an alternative approach to reach the Gotse Delchev Hut that was very nice to ride. A good mix of gravel and rocky surfaces, occasionally a creek to cross -wondering if it would result in wet feet- and all this trough forests of Pine and Beech.
But after a long climb to the Gotse Delchev Hut some more climbing had to be done and fallen trees had to be negotiated as well. I guess This winter came with extreme amounts of snowfall resulting in lots of broken branches and trees.
Finally I reached the first descent, only to discover that it was ruined by a combination of Motocross and erosion. Then another pretty long climb had to be done before the rest of the descent was reached. But this was very nice indeed. It was a pleasant mix of high-speed-wide forest tracks and technical single tracks. Because this track has “Flying” in the name, I assumed lots of downhill. I did not use a lift, so obviously when starting and finishing is on the same place, climbing and descending values are the same. Still it felt more uphill than downhill. That happens sometimes.
The next day
in the morning I decided to do the Dead Dog. The nice thing about riding in the morning is the clean crisp air and calm atmosphere. This route is also very nice. It starts with a climb straight out of Bansko into the Pirin. There is a small asphalt road that is soon exchanged for he countless small trails that run up, down and across the Pine covered slopes. You could easily improvise here all day and not ride a track twice. But I followed the route and was not disappointed either. A short section is shared with the Flying Scotsman, but then in reverse direction.
It is clear when the descent section starts: a sharp left turn goes down steep and follows a technical single track. Nice! After passing through a small meadow the route widened but was still very interesting.
Going back to Bansko you ride through undulating open fields where cows graze ad fields are ploughed. Not that I am disappointed, but I did not find any dead dog by the way.
This time, most of the routes were marked white white circles and a coloured core. Not (yet) the international MTB sign but when you know what to look out for it doesn’t matter much.
Nevertheless it is wise to use a GPS and/or map in order to know where you are or where you a going, because not all markings are clearly visible. And sometimes there aren’t any.