The call of the Black Sea
It is raining. Fibie refuses to sit in the trailer:
- « It's for the little ones," she says. As for Nayla, she doesn't have a choice.
At less than 10°C, the rain is very cold. We move forward with our heads stuck in the handlebars. Sometimes we try to laugh, to keep the girls' spirits up, but often we just try not to get into the fight, just to get through. We still have 40 km to go to Ruse. 40 km in the pouring rain is a long time. We arrive soaked in this city with the biggest port in Bulgaria.
This time, the weather forecast announces the arrival of winter. We have to cross the Bulgarian mountains to reach the Black Sea. Bad weather, strong gusts and dropping temperatures. The forecast makes us fear the worst. But the Black Sea is calling us.
The fog has wetted everything, the ground is soggy. We continue through the heart of the mountains, past small villages and on roads that never stop climbing. Every day, the vertical gains accumulate. The villages are welcoming, but they sometimes look dull because the facades have not been painted. They are grey, the roofs are tile-coloured. The Bulgarians are friendly, they wave at us, they smile at us, sometimes they offer us some food or fruit. We reach splendid forests, cross valleys, climb to the top of passes, sometimes discover vast spaces and meadows where horses graze and shepherds watch their herds of cows or sheep. Our days are increased by tenfold, by the cold, by the intensity of these conditions. It rains, the fog is dense at times, the headwind overwhelms us and a few rays of sunshine just allow us to dehumidify our equipment.
Crossing the Mountains
The days are getting shorter and shorter. And just after 5 pm, the last light fades. It's a race with the sun to set up camp and wash up. All this under the howling of the jackals. Every move is calculated, every gesture is quick in order to lose as little energy as possible. We then cook under a tarp, to avoid getting everything wet because of the humidity that falls in the evening.
Yet we enjoy crossing these mountains, connecting with this land, still unknown to us. Mysterious valleys reveal themselves to us. Oak forests with their fiery colours offer us refuge. Vast meadows inspire a sense of freedom. Large ploughed fields lost in the mist remind us that winter is coming.
After 2,500 m of positive elevation gain in five days, we made it. We are facing this gigantic blue expanse! We have just reached the Black Sea. I am moved once again to have reached this place propelled only by the strength of our bodies. Reaching a place by bike is much more than discovering a new place. It's feeling the whole way to the destination, it's embracing every curve of the earth. It's being aware of every change in weather. It is to experience every transition, to feel every people and community.
Reaching the Black Sea
The Black Sea called us. We need to enter in with it. We feel this invitation to explore our inner lands. Nature suggests it too. A moment of reconnection with ourselves. We decide to stay in the village of Byala and jump every day in the Black Sea!
We feel connected to the seasons and accept this time of introspection. We give ourselves the space to touch what is deep inside us. Above all, our gaze is turned towards the sea. The salty smell of the wind. The view of these tormented waters, the breaking of waves that have been getting bigger and bigger for the last few days. The sea is loud.
We enter the sea every day. The temperature of the water decreases significantly every week. Our feet burn on the icy sand even before they come into contact with the water. It takes courage to soak our bodies. And the storm doesn't help, it reminds us of the power of the waves, their enormous forces. We have to run at the right time to get in and out before the next big wave hits us. Fibie doesn't even have to go into the water, she just squats on the beach waiting for the next wave to surge and to engulf her up to her neck. This is our daily ritual. Nayla and Fibie are part of the challenge. Despite the cold, despite the waves, they get wet every day. They gather their courage and go for it.