Today was probably the most physically demanding ride so far, as we are passing through the Slovakian mountains (the Tatra range). It is an incredibly beautiful area, and organised in terms of road signs for the visitor (no getting lost here).
We headed out of town along the highway to connect onto route 72. It was a relief to be off the main road and the traffic was not too bad, aside from a number of passing log trucks.
The start of our ride was a nice meander through green fields and mountains, the sun was even shining for the first time in a while.
Then we began climbing and we just climbed and climbed, around 1000 metres over 10 km. There were some great views along the way. Imagine very green meadows fringed by forests, with snow capped peaks in the distance and the odd little village nestled in a valley. The whole pass was engineered to be at a steady incline, with a few long s-bends to get to the top. An endurance test.
Here is a photo (my camera cannot do it justice) – you can see the road at the bottom that we climbed up from, and this wasn’t at the top yet.
Then came an even steeper run downwards – so much so that I had to stop a couple of times as my hands were aching from holding on to the brakes.
We turned off route 72 to the left heading to Bresno and meandered on little country road again – noticed another ski field – could have been a beginner slope as much lower down.
When we reached Brezno it was bizarre to ride past a slum type area on the outskirts, including a transvestite and little children playing near the traffic. The people looked different, with darker skin.
In the centre of town there was loud music, children’s carnival rides, miniature horses and stalls. Went to tourist office and found out that it was the 750 year anniversary celebration for the town.
We discussed accommodation in Cierny Balog, our intended destination about 8km away – all that there seemed to be was cabins on the side of the road. We bought enough food and wine for dinner, as we expected there wouldn’t be much at our accommodation. When got there the cabins were right beside a railway line and the town didn’t look very appealing. We decided to press onto the next town, only 12km away to look for something better.
We started up a hill with steady gradient through a forest – the whole time we felt that we must be coming to the end of the hill, but it actually climbed for about 10km – which we did very slowly as we were already tired (took more than an hour). There were some good views through the trees.
When we reached the next towns they were idyllic, but there was no accommodation. Kris stopped and asked for some water from a lady at a nearby house. We saw a shepherd up on the hill bringing his sheep in.
We pressed on. Thankfully we were on a long long downhill, which was spectacular. We sailed along for next 10km, coming back alongside the river.
We passed a large water reservoir and then into the town of Hrinova. On the outskirts there were large factories, and then we heard the loudspeakers again making announcements and playing music. We found the main town square and stopped for an ice cream and directions to the pension. The Pension Anka was not far away, set alongside groups of residential apartment blocks. We had done 94km, a lot of uphill, and were worn out, so we treated ourselves to the large suite (EUR50).