2,549km down: 3,676km to go.
Before lunch up 1,110 metres and down 1,393 metres.
Thankfully I woke up with only a very slight inner ear issue, which I only noticed when looking down! We started off the day with a nice breakfast. As it was a short riding day I decided to ride around town to have a look, plus then I could take my time getting up the hill. Straight off 6k uphill, arrggh! My legs like to wake up slowly and this was at least as steep as Makara, but longer.
I had told Ciran, who was the being the sweep today, that I was going to look around and he said he would wait at the top of the hill. We arranged that if I got there before him that I would text him. So after looking around I got to the top of the hill, no Ciran. I went to text him and my phone went flat – I forgot to charge it last night. Damn. (I didn’t know at this point the impact this would have on my day). So I sat at the top and waited and he arrived soon after, so far so good.
After that we had 13k downhill, some of it was pretty steep so once again I got sore hands from braking. We went through a small village called Brehy and there was a broadcast going through the town. At first I thought it was radio from someone’s house but then it was still going about a kilometre later so I looked around and saw there were megaphones up on the power lines. It kept going the whole way through the town but none of the locals seemed to be taking any notice of it.
Just out of the town was an old train carriage that had been turned into a beehive, rows and stacks of trays. I cycled very quickly when I noticed that. Coming through Hronský Beňadik there was a beautiful monastery.
Lunch was at 49.5k but because I had ridden around at the top of the hill my speedo was out and the last couple of turns there had been no flags, so I was pleased to get to the right place for lunch.
The comment I made in yesterday’s blog about not having any significant navigation errors, well I obviously did not touch wood and clearly tempted fate! After lunch I went the wrong way by going straight, but when there was no turn in 2k I realized I was going the wrong way and doubled back. I then reread my notes – or should I say misread my notes – and read second turn past the gas station as turn straight after the gas station. I have no idea why. Murphy’s law there was of course a turn at a T intersection at the right time and I had gone quite awhile before I realized I was lost. I did not realize until much later that I was in the completely wrong place.
I asked a local and showed him where I was trying to go, he told me to go right so I did and rode for 5k, up until I came to a dead end so then went 5k back. I circled around looking for a flag but saw nothing. I assumed locals and/or street cleaners had removed them again.
I would have rung one of the tour guides but of course my phone was flat, and the maps are on my phone, the charger was not with me, I did not have my paper map with me, and nobody I asked spoke English. I then did the worst thing you can do when you are lost, I chose not to ride back up the big hill I had just ridden down, which would have taken me back to the point I got lost, so I got more lost.
I thought “I just need to find a bigger place or a gas station where there they will have a map” so I rode off, and after about 10k I came to a petrol station. First I spoke to the couple of young lads outside, and asked if they spoke English. Well, they did speak a little, but unfortunately my writing is messy and they couldn’t understand what I wanted or where I wanted to go. I went inside and showed the people behind the counter my notebook, but they did not speak English. A customer came and wrote down directions for me, luckily I clicked that the last destination on her instructions was Banska Stiavninka – which is where I left this morning! Of course I would have picked this up if the instructions took me back the way I came, but imagine if they directed me to a different route and then I turned up back at the start location of the day!!
Then I managed to convey that I wanted to ring someone, but the man rang and I am not sure if he dialled wrong or I had the numbers for the tour guides from Poland instead of Slovakia but the phones would not connect. Another couple of customers came in and everyone spoke to each other in Slovakian, then finally a young lady who could speak English came in. After a lot of discussion with her and the owner looking at the map and much waving of hands, she said she would show me the way. So off she drove with me cycling frantically behind her. After about 2k (I was exhausted but did not want to lose her) she obviously got frustrated with my slow pace and pulled over, opened the back of her hatchback and said “You and bike, in”. I had my bike apart and was in the car quicker than a rat up a drain pipe.
Berta was born in Slovakia, she is a PA and thankfully learned English at school. Berta kept asking me why and how I got lost, which was hard to explain, but she then got diverted by the fact that she had gotten lost. So we drove to a store and got directions, and then ten minutes later we arrived back at the same store! By this point I was starting to wonder if we are distant relatives!
After another four or five stops for directions, and about 50k of driving, we arrived at Jelence and I saw a flag. Berta was nice enough to take me right to camp. Berta would not accept any money for petrol, as she said God watches what we do, to which I said God must have sent her to help me, which she was pleased about.
After all this adventure, I arrived a camp with four riders still to come in and no alarm about me missing. My total riding for the day was 74k, only 4k less than I was meant to do! I have no idea how far away I actually was as we took a very long circular and backtracking route in the car.
Lessons learnt from this
1. Always charge the phone (this was the one and only time I forgot to)
2. A paper copy of a map is no good to you if you do not have it with you
3. If you know the way back to the last point that you were on the right track, go back – even if it is up a massive big hill
4. Write neater
5. Put which country the tour guide’s numbers are for next to them
However, it was nice that so many people tried to help me. I have even forgiven the lad who sent me the wrong way up a 5k dead-end, as I am sure he was genuine in his wish to help.
Anyway, I got to the camp, it was quite a nice setting. There was horse wandering around with a small kitten wandering around after it.
Once again Walli and I got a room, for 10 Euro each, with an inside toilet. We had a bunk room with a bunk and 3 single beds. It was difficult to convey to the manager that I wanted this just for two of us, and that even though there were five beds, I wanted another separate room for Shirley and Daphne. We got there in the end and they got a separate bunk room also with 5 beds.
One more riding day this leg then the next is a rest day. Tomorrow I was hoping was another shorter day but it is 120k and is apparently like this afternoon’s riding – but of course I do not know what that is like as my afternoon was totally different to every one else’s but, YAHOO at the moment we are clear of mountains!