Video: Jerome Clementz Explores the Bulgarian Wilds

Oct 16, 2018 at 9:45
by Loizo Rider  
Views: 8,435    Faves: 52    Comments: 0


BULGARIAN ROAD TRIP

Words: Jérôme Clementz // Photography: Reuiller Jérémie



Bulgaria is not the first tourism destination that will come in mind to most people, and even less for mountain biking. I have to admit that I never consider to visit this place until I got invited to an outdoor Film festival in Sofia in November 2016.

During the festival they broadcast some video of different sports filmed in Bulgaria and I noticed some beautiful mountain, scenic places and trails that looked rad. In the meantime I met the Bulgarian MTB scene and they were all keen to show me around. I told them, I'll be back!


Step 1: Borovets

Borovets is one of the closest ski centers from Sofia. In the summer it offers a bike park but also some cool natural ridgeline below the highest peak of Bulgaria called Mousala (2925m).


We are at the limit of the vegetation and the glacial rock garden with views over Borovets and Sofia in the background. The trail is technical and we have to find our way beetween massive rocks and these typical local dwarf pine that spread along the ground to 2m heigh. In these conditions the speed is not too high but it’s a challenge to try to find the smoothest line and not putting a foot down.


On the way down we enter a pine forest and the flow gets better and faster, not many riders rode this trail so it’s loamy and full of pine cones, perfect to drift and slide around.


After a little climb we get to the bike park, the good surprise is that there is a brand new trail freshly cut, with some berms, jump and roller. We didn’t ask for more and we start shredding all the way down, sending it over everything, jibbing when we could with a smile on our lips.


Step 2: 7 Rila lakes


If you Google Tourism Bulgaria it will probably be the first destination that will pop out. It’s an iconic place with 7 lakes that are like stairs in the mountain.


It’s the end of the spring and there is still snow and iceberg, which make the scene even more epic.


We play around on the different trails linking the lakes, for the afternoon, before starting our descent toward the valley on a long and fun trail, sorry we didn’t stop for photos but it was so good that we forgot to stop!

Step 3: Bansko and Pirin range

Andy, from the White lavina hotel, is our host, he’s a former ski freeride world tour rider and develop MTB in the area with trail and bike camp for kids and adults. After a proper Bulgarian dinner where we tasted some local wine and Rakia (local Grappa) assorted with some meat on the grill, we get some rest.


For the first day we start a ride to discover the high alpine, the surrounding is majestic, with the peak in the sky and the sea of cloud in the valley. The trail is not the easiest to ride and there is some hike a bike, but the view and the way down to the mountain hut make it worth.


The dirt is just perfect with the little rain of the last evening, the natural movement of the terrain makes the ride playful


Some of the trails were used for the national enduro race last year and some are fresh. The gradient in this part of the mountain is perfect and you need neither to pedal nor to break and just play between the rocks, roots, and turn around the trees and ferns.

Step 4: Petrich

We continue our trip down south! Petrich is nested at the bottom of a massive mountain range that makes the border with Greece and Macedonia and has a big MTB scene.


Our goal was to get to the summit of Mt Kongur (1951m) which mark the border with Greece. From the top you can see Greece and Macedonia and there is a unique singletrack on the ridge towards Petrich. A flowy ride with an amazing scenery in the middle of nowhere.


The locals built tons of trails on the lower parts with jumps, berms and north shore. Some of them are huge and to be honest I did not send everything on my trail bike and open face


But I rode and jump some stuff that was outside my comfort zone, for the camera and the photo. This feeling never gets old, when you land and clear something big for the first time, there is this adrenaline rush and excitement running through your body that just make you stoked.


For this journey we weren’t disappointed and Bulgaria delivered unexpected quality and variety of riding, and our guide said there is more to see. Definitely it’s a destination you can add on your travel list.


Dobromir and Tsvetelin were priceless with all the information, planning and guiding and once again they proved that travelling with the locals bring so much more to the experience and teach you a lot about a country, it’s culture and lifestyle.

Big thanks to Dobromir Dobrev from www.bike-ventures.com and Tsvetelin Ivanov Cuco from Pulse Cycles for the guidance and help, Andy from www.lavina.bg for having us in Bansko. Last but not least Thanks Jérémie Reuiller for the Photos and Pierre Henni for the videos.


49 Comments

  • + 32
 just reminding everyone, Cannondale already have a fast and stylish trail rider on their books Smile
  • + 26
 @l0key randy is the man
  • + 11
 @Daledenton: Randy is a sure contender for PB's Good month / bad month feature
  • + 7
 Good to see Randy's partner Philadelphia Collins getting some coverage too.
  • + 4
 I want to see Jerome ride with Rat, Max and all the 50to01 boys
  • + 4
 @KondziuNS: Because Randy would overshadow them too much?
  • + 11
 One thing that really struck me as I watched this -- strip away the context of them actually telling you this was in Bulgaria, and you'd never know. It could have been Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Iceland, Colorado, New Zealand... The earth is the earth -- mountains, trees, forests... It's all pretty much the same.

I suppose there's a deep lesson in all of this, like "take away all the man-made boundaries, and we're all the same, man." But there's something to hippy-dippy about that for me. I think I'll settle for: "Fun can be found right outside your backdoor. You don't have to travel all the way around the world for it."
  • + 2
 no, no, no. pretty sure the grass is way greener on the other side of the world. Wink
  • + 7
 americans wants to ride the alps and liguria, europeans wants to ride in the PNW...
  • + 5
 @cherbein03: Can confirm our grass is pretty green.
  • + 1
 @SupraKZ: OK, you got that on us in Colorado. It's more reddish/brownish desert here. It's beautiful, but I wouldn't say our grass is especially green.
  • + 2
 @TheR: depends on what kind of grass your talking about...but no, no one would mistake these shots for Colorado.
  • + 12
 Rakia, please correct the spelling Big Grin
  • + 2
 Thanks for the correction.
  • + 9
 Woohoo! Saw the teaser the other day!
I'm glad you had a great time in my home country, the MTB scene is still underdeveloped, but hopefully things are going in the right directions! Smile
  • + 3
 Build it, and we will come. (yes, this IS parodying Kevin Costner, but it's true).
  • + 4
 @boxxerace: dont come please
  • + 9
 Bulgaria is an awesome place to ride! Visited a couple years and was guided by Dobri from Bike Ventures - wished I could spend a bit more time exploring!
  • + 6
 We are still riding now, this year the 'gypsy summer' has allowed us to get above 1500m still, fantastic weather for riding... Bulgaria can offer virtually anything for mtb, 2/3 of the country is mountains, we live in a flat valley surrounded by 3 different mountain ranges, awesome xc in the valley and the foothills, freeride and enduro in the mountains... My home is very near to Bansko featured in the vid, it's only scratching the surface of what is available in Bulgaria... The local cuisine is fantastic, the wine and the beer similar, and it definitely will not break the bank, great value destination... and not busy, yet ;-)
  • + 3
 Thanks for your comment. Excellent discovery by the way. I completely ignored that Bulgaria was such an amazing place. It is now on my wish-list Smile
  • + 5
 Favorite video on here in a while. You can tell why he has had so much success in his career based on his riding style. Pumps so hard through tiny progressions and carries so much speed. And all done with steeze.
  • + 3
 I don't understand why more of these destination articles don't have the Trailforks info attached. I looked up these regions and all of them are on there, except for Rila. If you're going to highlight a destination, highlight the trails too!
  • + 2
 Trailforks is not very popular in Bulgaria, but we are getting there. You should check Veliko Tarnovo, Troyan and Sliven region too.
  • + 3
 Bulgaria is not very popular for MTB yet there is a big scene in every big city! Trails every where, fully packed race season in all disciplines of MTB and plenty of options for shredding. You have to see it to believe it! And you probably won't get enough from the first time, its addictive all this natural fauna mostly untouched. If you are wondering whether you should come......DON'T, just come!
  • + 5
 'Some of them are huge and to be honest I did not send everything on my trail bike and open face' Then the next photo.
  • + 1
 Iav ridden most of the main places for the last 6 years every year it gets better and it very affordable in the summer with very good weather most of the time. Apart this year.
Sopot is definitely the most extreme riding but its has struggled with help and keeping it maintained.
Trial forks does work well i tried it with alot of success this year.
Well done all the bg crew????????
  • + 4
 Great little treasure place for riding. So much style as ever. Never understood why @loizorider step down EWS
  • + 3
 Well dammit...now I must leave work and go ride! That fern gully forest was dope!
  • + 1
 I don't understand why more of these destination articles don't have the Trailforks info attached. I'm not just talking about Bulgaria, as I assume much of this isn't on Trailforks.... but still.
  • + 4
 Absolute trail destruction! Jerome is an ANIMAL!
  • + 3
 randy is better why is this video not of the superior rider?
  • - 1
 Sopot the best destination for riding in Bulgaria was kindly missed again .... all those spots for riding ware paid advertisements those who didn't pay ware kindly not mentioned...they call it the Bulgarians way, money talks always...
www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sopot+2012+dh
  • + 5
 We didn't sold our soul and no money was involve. The places we visited were good for real Wink
We just decided to go south west and Sopot was not on our way. Bulgaria is big and we couldn't visit all the riding spot in 1 week!
  • + 1
 Sorry to disappoint you, but Sopot currently is in terrible condition. But the fact that is great destination is absolutely correct.
  • + 3
 Awesome video! JC is so smooth!
  • + 3
 Много добро видео
  • + 1
 I love videos that take the viewer to relatively 'uncharted territory' for most MTBers, Bulgaria looks amazing!
  • + 3
 Randys killin it
  • + 2
 When was it, end of May? Were the lifts open at that time?
  • + 5
 End of June. Some were open, some not
  • + 2
 Awesome places, awesome riding!!!
  • + 1
 What a great video great soundtrack and that start with the Bulgarian voices ,top
  • + 1
 @skidmarkbro You have absolutely no idea ....
  • + 1
 great trails! great views!! great video!!
  • + 1
 @loizorider Yeah! Zipp wheels?! Any rumours on release yet?
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