To The City Of Reunions: Liptovska Sielnica to Banska Bystrica - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

October 26, 2013

To The City Of Reunions: Liptovska Sielnica to Banska Bystrica

It was a terrible night; tossing and turning and laying awake. There was a lot of noise; the distant roar of traffic on the highway along the south side of the lake and from the town opposite where Is camping. And, I'd a disturbing \dream where Is in a bar trying to pay for a drink and the purse was full of coins from every country I'd visited but, I couldn't find the right currency to settle the tab. I lay awake after that not knowing what to make of it. Then deciding it was pointless, I began listening to music to calm me...

...It could've been sublime, sitting in the tent opening breakfasting on the usual muesli and tea at quarter to eight, the sun just risen over the opposite side of the lake, casting an orange streak across the water to my side if, it hadn't been for the receding dry muddy shore; the household rubbish dumped at various points; and the noise. The aforementioned highway and also, the power-boats; one set off from a point on the north shore to my left buzzing like an insect and hobbling up and down out off the water as it approached and passed parallel to the shore. Then a second power-boat came noisily and passed on the same route, shortly followed by a third.

I was on the road just after eight thirty. A thin veil of mist had descended reducing visibility and making it feel cold. The road had a good shoulder and the traffic was light. Then the road reaches and passes underneath that busy highway. I worry at this point as the road swung round with entry-slips ahead, that there wouldn't be an alternative to the motorway, but cycling further round, reveals the road continuing past the slip-road and over a bridge back across the main highway to a tee with a service road running alongside the westbound carriageway.

According to the sign, the next town, Ruzomberok, is ten kilometres, from where I'll turn-off south. The sun is breaking through as the mist lifts, but, as the sky clears, there remains an awful white cloud against the hills ahead which as the distance lessens, I see billowing columns of vapour and eventually the road reaches and passes alongside a huge industrial complex of pipelines and dirty rusty metalwork and buildings with steam hissing out and tall red and white striped smokestacks with columns of emissions.

Before reaching Ruzomberok-centre, there's traffic-lights with a filter for a left-turning; the intended route. The green sign after turning has: Banska Bystrica 53km, meaning as its now ten, I should make it there for about one and spend the afternoon updating the journal.

The road is a nice smooth divided highway with ample shoulder to begin with; then, ends abruptly and thereafter it's a patchy deteriorating surface single-carriageway with a constant flow of cars and trucks drafting past. It follows a narrow gorge. Passing through a scattered town, there's suddenly less traffic, from where the road begins climbing.

There seems no end in sight to the steep road continuing up ahead of me. Rounding each bend reveals yet another steep stretch and the road beyond the next bend a strip higher still across the pine-clad slope. Reaching what would be the final straight, there's a billboard to the side advertising Mc'Donalds; then there are lots of hotels and restaurants, a car-park and the winding-machinery of a ski-lifts with cables strung off with dangling chairs up a slope. Finally, the summit has a big archway over the road.

The way down is steeper with warning signs with 8km. I've to be on the ball one-hundred per cent. There isn't anything for me to look to the side anyway, just near vertical pine-clad slopes as the road wound down into a gorge ahead. Most of the way had recently been widened with a climbing lane for trucks, so the surface is smooth and I can sit out safely from the edge.

The approach to Banska Bystrica becomes a divided highway which I suspect is a motorway before I see the sign "Centrum" with the arrow pointing right for the exit-slip.

When I rode off the highway, I was left wondering which was the right way to the city-centre, but saw these two communist era blocks, one painted yellow and the other pink.
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The central square I found after riding uphill from the blocks in the previous picture, then I rode, continuing the circuitous way, along uphill streets to the highest point in town, to eventually come downhill through the entry between the church and clock-tower. I came down past where I stood taking this shot, to the bottom of the hill to find Is back on the same street Is on when I left the Highway, albeit 200m along from where I originally set off uphill.
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The pension: the last available room because of lots of family and school-reunions in town during the weekend. It is 3pm and so, I thought I'd make some headway in updating this journal in the afternoon.
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But: the antivirus on my netbook is very effective in blocking use with an unsecured networks; at least I think that is the problem here.
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I ask the waitress who spoke a little English did she know of a cheap place to stay. When I say a little English, I mean little, so she couldn't help; but Slovakian is a difficult language and her English is fair. I ask how to say thank you. It took me quite a bit of practise to get the pronunciation right.

I pay for the coffee and cycle towards the train station. On a big board on the same road, there's a city-plan with bed diagrams which leads me back to the centre looking at hotels. All looked expensive without even asking; then at the bottom of the square, I happen upon a place calling itself a pension. There is a café on the ground floor and the accommodation is arrowed in through an archway and up a flight of stairs at the rear which I carry the fully-loaded bike up.

There is a function room through glass doors off the first floor balcony, where a big party of middle-aged people are having lunch, and through another door there's a café where I find someone to talk to about a room.

The young man behind the bar says it's Forty Euro for a room and they've only one room left. Forty Euros and a number of nights not paying anything, camping for free, means I'm not going away, so I hand over my passport and he checks me in, then shows me up to my room, saying I can take the bike up; so, I carry the fully leaden bike up another flight of stairs as he holds open doors and leads the way.

I have a long shower and wash my cycling top and underwear, then try using the WiFi. It connects well enough but there's no internet access. Something to do with it being an unidentified network, thereby unsecure, so for my own good and health of the computer, I'm screwed as far as getting on top of journal updating goes. My only option is to go out to a café.

I return to the café I had had coffee in earlier. There's a municipal network which means the signal is strong sitting outside, but as it got dark, it grew too cold to sit outside as I'd come out wearing only a shirt, so I moved inside where the signal is weak, too weak to get anything done so I return to the pension.

The young man that checked me in speaks good English. He's the manager and he put a beer on the table refusing payment as he listen to me relate my cycling journey. He says he lived and worked in England for a few years, but has moved home because he has a young daughter to care for now.

Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 7,381 km (4,584 miles)

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