Gordon: Ruth thinks that today’s blog should be titled “The Best Ride Ever” because neither of us can recall a more beautiful single day of cycling. Perhaps it’s just the recency effect.
We only covered 40 kms, descending 300 vertical metres, and then climbing 500. The descent followed a river for 17 kms of gentle downhill. The human infrastructure was limited to a few minute villages, a couple of small hydro dams, and a series of fish farms with trout in tiers of concrete pens paralleling the river. Life always seems more beautiful and harmonious during a long, gentle coast on a bicycle, particularly in the early morning light.
The ascent was through the Trigrad gorge, and except for a short section around the Devil’s Throat cave, it was well graded. The gorge itself is spectacular, with a crystal clear river running beside the twisting road through an increasingly narrow canyon. At the narrowest point the river disappears entirely, plummeting through the well-known Devil’s Throat cave. The cave is alleged to be the place where Orpheus led Ariadne from the underworld, until he turned to look at here and she had to return to Hades forever. If true, Hades is a damp and noisy place. The enormous cavern is continually filled with the roar and moisture of the 40 metre waterfall. The stairs paralleling the waterfall were actually unsettling, with such narrow steps and steep pitch that I think they were technically a series of ladders. It was a great experience, and one to make you appreciate the sunlight when you emerge.
The town of Trigrad, where we are staying, is only a few kilometres from the border with Greece. Earlier in our trip, in northern Romania, we were only 100 metres from the border with the Ukraine. It is remarkable to think that we have cycled from the Ukraine to Greece: although I think of them as having completely different climates, they are physically not that far apart.