Biking in Bulgaria – part 1 – Central Balkan Region

Over the previous 2 years I added summary write ups on biking trails and pleasant areas to bike in several corners of Bulgaria.  Today, having just returned from yet another trip to Bulgaria (and a brief London visit), it is time to add more to the list of potential areas for biking in this country.

As stated, previously I provided write ups and photos on:

This time around I want to add commentary and photos on a few more locations, starting with the area known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings (around Kazanlak), high up in the Central Balkan mountains between the peaks where Shipka and Buzludzha are — then in a follow up installment I will cover areas in North-east Bulgaria around Kavarna, Balchik and the Zlatni Piasaci (Golden Sands) resort.

So about the area around small towns (more like villages) outside of Kazanlak there are plenty of dirt roads for you to explore between Kran, Enina, Shipka — you can see on this map:

And these photos:

near-Kazanlak    near-Kazanlak  BikingDirtRoadOutsideKran-1   

And next a few photos from the road from Shipka to Buzludha (a near by peak of the Balkan mountain range) — the road itself is not heavily traveled and allows for a good bike ride of about 6-8km and if you continue back down to the valley you will come out on the main road that links Shipka, Kran and Kazanlak.

near-Buzludzha biking-Buzludzha

If you get a chance you should definitely consider biking in this region.  Then of course sample some of the great food and see the historic Thracian Tombs.

Bike saddles and airplane seats

Who said bike saddles are not important – turns out they could become even more so to a larger population – namely all air travelers.

turns out Airbus is toying with the idea of bike style posture and seats for plane configurations….


Saddle seat for airplane Airbus As you can tell from the other photos from the patent application filed by Airbus, the future of economy seat is even more aggressive than what we have today.  Yep – only one way to generate profits in the airline business I guess – offset high fuel costs with even more passengers per flight.  

For all of you who are bike enthusiasts – you know how comfortable a bile style saddle could be on a 2+ and above ride….NOT AT ALL!  So then you need to think what would a flight like this feel like – I can give you a hint – VERY UNPLEASANT!


Trek X-Caliber Test Ride

Earlier today I wrote about the fact that our daughter is test riding a bunch of new bikes as we are getting her ready to hit the trails.  It is about time to get her truly into mountain biking.  She has been testing a bunch of new bikes:

  • Giant Talon
  • Giant Temp
  • REI Novara Ponderosa 27.5" and 29er both
  • Specialized Jett Comp

The Giant and Specialized were nice bikes according to her and her mother.  But more about that in a future post.  As we went to the last of the bike shops – I came across a great find.  TREK X-CALIBER 29er;   The bike was heavily discounted as it is the 2013 model.  I rode it as I am planning now to trade in my current bike.  The ride was very smooth – due to the good shifters and the higher-end RockShox Reba with Solo Air.  The remote lockout for the fork was an interesting and somewhat useful feature – it takes adjustment to — but I think it is cool and convenient. 

                                                        Trek X-Caliber

The wheels for the bike support a great new feature for mountain bikes — tubeless tires – which can offer a very nice / comfortable ride.

Bike Specifications

Trek Fuel EX 7 29
Trek Stache 8
Trek X-Caliber



Buying a New Women’s Mountain Bike

A couple of years ago, we posted a series of articles on the process of shopping for a new women's mountain bike. Well, here we are today with our daughter eager and ready to jump on a new real mountain bike and looking forward to trail riding. Her bike today is a Giant 650XT 26-inch aluminum frame, mechanical/coil front shock — a combination which somehow never fit her well as she was growing fast.

Over the last few weeks she has been test riding mostly her mother's Specialized Jett 29er and has been feeling progressively ready to get rid of her current bike smiley

So, let's start the hunt (I say) – but first what should one look for in a women's bike?  What are the key criteria?

  • Fit and size:  probably the most important aspect no matter you are looking for men's or wormen's bike; You do not want to have a bike which is too large – it will reduce your ability to manuever safely and with confidence; A bike which is too small will reduce your ability to pedal effectively, will add to quick fatigue and will impede your breathing.  Overall you are looking for a bike with a frame size that gives you the clearance to stand astride of the bike and when riding your stretch to the handlebars is comfortable – i.e. no pain or discomfort in your shoulder blades for example or anywhere else in your body;
  • Suspension:  if you are buying a bike with suspension – make sure it is adjustable (no matter whether it is coil or air based); The coil based suspension is lower cost but even so it needs to be adjustable as different body size and weight – especially given women are much lighter – require that adjustment for effective operation of the fork/suspension.  Talking with women riders – the shock absorber can add or save significant fatigue and stress in your hands / wrists especiailly when riding on a trail;
  • Saddle and Handlebars:  Those are important as well — make sure you test ride the bikes you are considering.  In general even the handlebars for women's bikes are different / can be different – usually narrower and with slimmer grips — again from my experience / feedback from women's riders – the grips make a difference in the overall riding experience and enjoyment.
  • Overall – at the end of the day, MAKE SURE you test ride the bikes you are considering and once decided on the best one you like, make sure the bike shops does the final fitting to your body and riding posture

Here are the bikes we will be considering — next we are off to do a few test rides with our daughter.  Stay tuned for the next report – from the rides…

Marin Women's Bike    Raleigh Women's bike  GT Women's Bike   Giant women's bike


Travel Notes in Photos

Today I am going to digress from my bike related postings and put together a photos only based summary of my recent trip to Agra, India.  Probably many of you are familiar with Agra as the location of the famous Taj Mahal. There are many writeups about the Taj Mahal, so I decided to focus on giving you a view of the place via a set of photos….After all 'a picture is worth a thousand words…'

Agra, Taj Mahal Agra Taj Mahal Agra, Taj Mahal Courtyard Agra, the Taj Mahal Agra Taj Mahal Entrance Agra Taj Mahal