A guide to Mountain Biking in South Rila and North Pirin. Here you will find a list of the trails I have built and maintained in Pirin and Rila. Each trail has been named according to my feeling for the trail and the back story behind it. Come joing me for a beer at the hotel if you want to hear the story!
Here are two Gpsies.com links for The Flying Scotsman:-
Flying Scotsman short course :- URL
Flying Scotsman Long Course :- URL
Here is a large PDF format map:- the_flying_scotsman_map
There are three ways to do the Scotsman and the debate will carry on for ever. Are you CycloCross, Downhill or CrossCountry? What ever you are The Flying Scotsman has something for you.
I love the cyclocross way so I ride the long course, that killer pull up the hill on the tarmac to the Gotse Delchev hut really stretches the legs and the lungs. Pace yourself as the track from Getse Delchev keeps climbing up and up. There is a great wriggly bit of porterage down through the woods onto the logging trail after the Mucharata hut. Then the climb carries on. Once you get to the top after some spectacular views it is all about the downhill.
Downhilling The Scotsman. Most proper downhill/full suspension and XC riders and will drive to the chair lift and start riding from the top of the chair above the Gotse Delchev hut. The start point is on the ski piste next to the Bez Bog hut. there is some fast and technical downhill sections to the mid station of the lift and then off into the woods along the logging trail.
For the intermediates I suggest they start from the mid station of the lift and stick to the logging trail all the way down to the main track. For the more advanced riders that have started from the very top there are some fantastic cut through single track sections. Keep your eyes peeled they are not always easy to see but link most of the “S” bends.
Here is a Gpsies.com link to Ponderosa short course:- URL
Here is a Gpsies.com link to Ponderosa long course:- URL
Here is a large PDF format map :- ponderosa_map
Ponderosa, is a beast, whichever way you look at her she is a beast. Just to get to the start of the climb you have 200m of gentle altitude again over 17km. The main climb is steep, you gain 300m in 7 km but all this work is worth it, the next 20kms are super fast, there are some technical bits in the woods but basically you are flying down wide open trails in beautiful country. You have dropped 650m by the time you get to Banya.
The short course saves you a bit of time but not much effort but if you are short on time it is worth cutting back at Bachevo. The long course gives you the views, the buzz and a huge sense of achievement! Ponderosa is only 54km but they are tough and fun!
Here is a Gpsies.com link to Perfect Day:- URL
Here is a large PDF format map :- perfect_day_map_final
Please note that this trail has been changed significantly from that which you will find on the maps.
The start of Perfect day is now from the army base near Hotel Bansko spa or From Bansko Royal Towers and the trail heads west in the direction of the golf course. Perfect day is now a much longer trail with some of the best single track in Pirin and very little porterage. Some sections of the single track have great descents, great for getting the heart racing! If you can comfortably ride for a couple of hours or 25 km off road you will love this trail.
Due to the length of this trail and the amount of single track it is recommended for intermediate to advanced riders. Maximum ride time 4 hours average ride time 2 hours.
Here is a Gpsies.com link to Mud Bath:- URL
Here is a large PDF format map :- mud_bath_map
Please note the PDF map is only of the off road section above Obidim. I consider the trail the whole ride from Bansko via the off road section back to Bansko. The URL link gives the whole trails as I see it.
Mud Bath is an almost perfect example of what I like about cycling. A good climb up the tarmac road, 15km with 400m of altitude gain. 13 km of fast forest track with plenty of up and down to keep it interesting. From Obidim there is a 10 km descent on the tarmac where you lose 600m of altitude. Finally a 17km grind back to Bansko with 300m of altitude gain. The whole trail is about fitness more than technical skill. When the legs are feeling good and there is plenty of fuel in the tank you can just power round this great little course.
N.B. There is a turning at 25km to the right which leads off the main track into the wilderness. This trail takes you down to the main road via a dirt track . thus you can swap 10km of road for 10km of off road. I haven’t marked this track but it is worth looking into! Maybe hire a guide for that one.
Here is a Gpsies.com link for Foxy Lady:- URL
Here is a large PDF format map :- foxy_lady_map
Foxy Lady looks like a pretty easy run with a only 23km of gently undulating trail, a long swooping down hill to the village of Banya followed by a flat riverside wander back to Bansko. There are a few stings that The Lady conceals in her curvaceous form so watch out!
The climb up to the top of the Dubovets hill has a couple of steep steps but nothing to write home about the main problem with the climb is the sandy path. The surface of the path looks the same all the way up the hill but here and there you will find sand traps that just grap your wheels and pull. These strength sapping little Ba****ds take their toll!
The Downhill section is fast fast fast! keep your eyes open as there is a sharp right turn a couple of clicks down from the top. There are also some rutted muddy corners just where you don’t want them. Low hanging branches add some excitement to the high speed descent so don’t let your guard down. Be warned The Lady is dangerous!
The Return, is beautiful. All of Pirin before you framed in blue sky and green fields. Most of it is pretty flat so you can crank up a fair bit of momentum, the last section up to Bansko is a couple of clicks of gentle climb which can be a little wearing but it is shady smooth so no biggy.
Here are 2 Gpsies.com links for Dead Dog:-
-Deag Dog short course :- URL
-Dead Dog Long Course :- URL
Here is a large PDF format map:- dead_dog_map
“Dead Dog” is the oldest MTB trail in Bansko and is a fantastic trail for intermediate riders. The climb up the tarmac to the start of the trail proper is probably the hardest bit but there are plenty of places where the road flattens out so you can rest along the way. Once you are on the trail proper it is a wide rolling path that gently climbs up through the woods. “Dead Dog” is very shady so never gets too hot even in mid summer.
Once you get to the highest point of the trail there is a long descent down to the meadows, in some places it is steep and/or narrow so beginners might feel more comfortable walking some short sections. At the bottom when you get to the valley floor you can either turn right for the swimming pool at Dobrinishtay or left for Bansko.
For an absolute beginner rider with plenty of rest breaks this trail would take a maximum of 3 hours. For an average rider 1hour 40 minutes.
I have added a variation of the Dead Dog course called Dead Dog Long Course it is 23 km and includes some great single track above the village of Dobrinishtay. To join the long course turn right after the downhill section in the first meadow you come to. the path continues east through some dense bushes over a little stream and then up a steep short climb.
Here are two Gpsies.com links for The Road to Nowhere:-
The Road to Nowhere :- URL
The Road to Nowhere Variation :- URL
Here is a large PDF format map:- road_to_nowere_map
The Road to Nowhere will be the last trail to be marked and was the last trail to be found. The reason for this is that it is a pain in the bum! As the map above shows it is all pretty simple. You turn off the main road just before the Dobrinishtay ski area at the well sign posted junction to Breznitsa. Follow the dirt road in the direction of Obidim (again good sign posts) then hang a left and you are off. THERE ARE A MILLION FALSE LEFT TURNS! THERE ARE A MILLION FALSE RIGHT TURNS. THERE ARE A MILLION FALSE TURNS FULL STOP!
The area between Dobrinishtay, Obidim and the Gotse Delchev hut is the Bermuda triangle of Bulgaria, a huge labyrinth of forrest tracks, logging trails and dead ends. there are maybe only three routes that go all the way through this ridge line two of them I have GPS’ed and are on here the third I have deleted after some scary moments in the Lada last week (September 2014)
The Road to Nowhere, two basic options. Lift up or ride up? I ride as the tarmac road is no real effort just long and slow 15km and 400m of climb. Once you are on the trail proper it is rough semi made rocky road with some fast smooth edges. For the first few km it is rolling up and down and no effort to cruise at 15 or 20 km/h. For the rest is is mostly down with the odd short climb.
You turn left to Obidim at the signposted junction after about 4 km of riding on the dirt track. You have been following the red and white Mud Bath trail markers at this point and continue to do so. The road descends and if fast and fun lots of fast steps down followed by long flatish wriggly runs to the next step down. All very easy and fast.
You turn left at the rising triangular junction and continue on down the hill following the green trail markers. These will split at one point with green trail markers going both left and right. The left is in fact straight on and the right a hard 90 degree junction this is at 26km from Bansko or 11km from the end of the tarmac. There is litle difference between the two options. The left is a little shorter but fun with lots of rolling terrain and banked corners. The right is longer but less fun more of a meander.
The Road to Nowhere explores some fantastic wild country little visited due to the labyrinth