Recently we did a series of mountain bike trips around part of Western Rhodopes, which is located between Rila and Pirin Mountains, between the towns of Bansko, Gotse Delchev, Velingrad and Dospat and west from Dospat Dam. It is called Velijsko-Videnishki Dyal and rises up to 1700 meters above sea level. The views to Rila and Pirin Mountains, visible from its main ridge, are awesome.
Main starting point for the area is the highest rail station on the Balkans – Avramovo, located more that 1200 m. above the sea. It is also considered as a border between Rila and Rhodope Mountains. Some remote asphalt roads criss-cross the mountains and give access to numerous dirt roads. Long descents both to Velingrad and Bansko are possible, also routes that are combination of biking on the southern slopes of Rila Mountains and the Rhodopes.
The area is inhabited mainly by the so called Pomacs – Bulgarians, who converted to Islam during the period of the Ottoman rule.Very friendly and welcoming, they live in a small neighborhoods spread around the mountains. Some of them are accessible only by dirt forest roads and have no other facilities rather than a small shop. Most of the population works in the agriculture and live stock breeding – the main crop are the potatoes, as they are the most sustainable vegetable to such a climate at heights 1200-1500 meters above sea level.
Whats particularly good in spring mountain biking? Its never too hot and the views are amazing. It is already spring in the lower parts, but Rila and Pirin Mountains are still completely covered in snow. Actually, next to Ortsevo village was found an ancient Thracian tomb. Trchians were the first ones who gave the name “Orbelus” to what we call now Pirin Mountains. Orbelus in translation means “The White Mountains” and is clear why they choose this name for Pirin Mountains.
Of course there is always slightly higher risk to get wet and muddy because of the spring rains, but the great views of the blossoming trees and flowers and the green, green slopes of the mountains are definitely a good compensation to that. Take a look at some more photos on Facebook – click.
Author: Lyuben Grancharov
“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.