The Road to Nowhere

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The Road to Nowhere, what is it all about? For most people it is a mountain bike rally that takes place at the end of July every year, for some it is a community of mountain bikers in Bansko but for me it has been/is a bit of a journey. I started out in 2004 trying to find reasons for people to come to Bansko in the summer and to keep myself entertained trough those long lazy days between winter seasons.

I started off by wandering around the mountains close to Bansko trying to find routes that might be interesting to bikers  but on foot things take a really really long time. The dogs were good company the weather wasn’t. Being fat and ginger in 30 degree heat without water took it’s toll, the trail names tell a story in themselves, “Dead Dog” almost killed Krishna, “Perfect Day” almost killed me and “The Road to Nowhere”  drove Mick mad with its long long long circular section!

After a couple of summers I decided to call in the big guns and invited mountain bikers to come and stay for free in exchange for trail finding and marking, the offer still stands but no one really believes it’s true. We did get one group who found the “Flying Scotsman”  and Mick Lever who found The Road to Nowhere and “Pondorossa”  but the pottering around was the main source of new trails.

In 2006 there was some saga in Czech about mountain biking and lots of trails in Czech got banned from use so even though we still had almost no interest in mountain biking in Bansko I decided to try and get everything legal and above board. What a mission that has been, 3 of the trails are in the National Park, we have trails in the Municipalities of  Bachevo, Razlog, Banya, Dobrinishtay and Bansko. Half of these guys don’t talk to the other half, the National park didn’t talk to the town hall for many years the National Park is not allowed to do anything without a ton of paperwork and permission signed in triplicat from a notary on Mars. Nightmare is not the word.

Some things went well Mayor Kravarov was very supportive and gave me money to help mark the trails the old director of the National Park Grancharov was very supportive with huge amounts of time and advice .  Nasko from Iskar Tours made us some great maps.  But the crux of the matter is and was always the trails and how to maintain and mark them. In a good year with me really focusing on the job I could keep 3 trails open and marked but not all seven. Finally last year a group of the ex pats got involved and totally changed the game, working like slaves with rakes and spades they attacked the worst parts of Dead Dog and what had once been a tough trail now became an awesome trail. I hope they keep up their good work!

So why this post? Well today is the 7th of April 2014 it’s probably 9 or 10 years since I started this journey and part of the routine of trying to get everything done is to drop in on the Driector of National Park Pirin on a monthly basis and poke things a bit. Well today my routine chat was stopped halfway through as Rossen (the director) suddenly remembered something, so telling me to stay where I was he trotted off and came back with one of the girls and told her to break the news to me. Sveti (the girl) has been involved in the MTB saga for probably 4 years now and has been working very hard trying to get the trails legalised and as the chat explained finally, FINALLY! The Flying Scotsman has received its permission from Sofia. o.k. there are a couple of caveats for one small section but the trail is now legal!

It’s a small victory and there is probably only one other person who really knows how much it has taken but it is a victory. There wont be any medals or cheering crowds there wont be any glory or recognition. But there is a little warm glow in me and weirdly as I type this a tear in my eye.