"Tour de Slovaky" 1997





An adventurous bicycletour to the Tatra (1997)

1997. júl. 26 - aug. 8.

At 4 am on 26th july 1997 the most people had already been sleeping. Two boys from Szolnok (Hungary) were putting their things into the packs and put them onto their "experienced" bikes. Me, Gabor Györgyi made my preparations at Budakalász, next to Budapest. Our goal was to go back to the slovakian and polish Tatra by bike. From the "team" Zoltán Maráz had the most experience in biking in Slovakia: he had already climbed 7 times the ascents of the Tatra. Zoltán Rédei and me were twice in the Tatra by bike. Last time, in 1995 we were together there. We planned the trip 13-14 day long. We planned that we would spend our nights mainly in the nature in our tents.
I needed some hours to get used to the 22 kg weighted pack on the bike. At the end of our first day we had to climb to the plateau of the Bükk mountain-range. The idea came from the boys from Szolnok to meet at Répáshuta, in the Bükk. In the evening – with 160 and (for me) 220 kms in our legs – we could plan the following days together. We slept in a hunter-house. In the morning we started cycling in a sunny, but windy weather. We planned biking 130kms that day to arrive at Slovakia. We tried not to cycle on main roads, so we reached Aggtelek late. We crossed the border not much before sunset. Already in our first day we got an introduction by the slovakian climbs: before Plesivec there was a 12% steep ascent and descent. We found a good place for our tents on the grass next to a stream.
Next sunny morning we had breakfast at Roznava. Somewhere we could hear hungarian voices, sentences, because here live hungarians too. Our small team splitted up to two parts. The reason was me, because I wanted to visit an unknown climb next to Krasnahorka. Dedinky-tó partjára. Én a kegyetlen, 8 km-en át 7-10%-os meredek krasznahorkai emelkedővel ismerkedtem, majd kerülőúton érkeztem a megbeszélt találkozóhelyre. A jéghideg vízben az izzasztó emelkedők után nem is volt kellemetlen a fürdés. Estére az évek során hagyományossá vált táborhelyünkre, a fenyőink alá tóltuk fel kerékpárjainkat.

Towards the lake Dedinky where we planned to meet in the afternoon the boys chose – as two years ago – the calm, friendly ascent to the 909m high Sulova saddle. My climb seemed to be hard and steep, and I could realize it; that was really serious. It was 8km long with a ssteepness of about 8-10%. The road was almost empty, so I could really enjoy the nature. The top was at the height of 1030m. On the top I met with a man who carried the women there to gather barries. After the first descent I was bicycling on a light and then middle steep ascent to the 1069m high Grajnar pass. The well surfaced road was athomspheric as it went through the fir tree forest and I could see some flowers and sometimes nice views to the mountains. I arrived at the lake Dedinky a little bit later then I liked it. After the sweltering ascents I enjoyed to swim in the lake, although it was cold. For the night we biked to the edge of the forest in the next valley; that was a traditional free camping site of us during the tour. Our fourth morning started earlier because towards our accomodation in Nova Lesna, at the feet of the High Tatra we planned a lay-by: to visit the large fortress of Spisska. We tried to leave the place under the trees almost untouched, because I never forget the sentence I had read in a village 20kms from my home: "The nature is for us; don't misuse its trust." We filled our flasks from a spring. We climbed up to the Grajnar pass through nice forests, on a pleasant sloping road. After having rest in Spisska Nova Ves and Levoca we turned right, towards the fortress of Spisska. Because of the hilly road when we get sight of the castle the boys decided to turn back: "We would have some climbs to Poprad, we shouldn't cycle more towards the castle. We could visit it by car, when my family would arrive on the following day."- said Zoli. It wasn't a problem that I continued biking to the fortress. I was in a good shape, I had power. In the evening the number of our gathering increased by three people; the family of Zoli arrived. Nova Lesna - the village where we slept by a private house - had made itself ready for the tourists: there are a lot of houses and rooms to let. We paid 150 Sk for a night per person.
The clouds and rain that arrived at night broke away our plan about a sunny program, so we visited the largest, unbroken fortress of Middle Europe, Spisska by car. In Levoca and in other towns we realized gladly that the towns' houses were under renovation. It was a pleasure to see the fresh painted houses, the flowers and the orderly centers, squares. In the folllowing morning the sunshine made us get up. We had free program. Zoli Maráz went to the polish town, Nowy Targ with his wife and child, while Zoli Rédei remained in the village to gather power for the following days. I chose to climb (by foot) the 2499m high Rysy, the highest point of Poland, that hike I should cancel in 1993, on my first Tatra-tour. In the lower section there were a lot of fir trees, and a nice lake. I enjoyed the land very much. In the last few kilometers there were chains fixed to the rocks to help the tourists. Sometimes I needed it to step up and up. On the top a lot of people were sitting, taking photos and enjoying the panorama. The view was fantastic: bare peaks in every direction, while north- and downwards the two famous lakes: Morskie Oko and the Black lake.

In the everning I could instigate the boys for a nice tour or hike, the voices of the rain on the window-sill (ablakpárkány) woke us up. Zoli decided: "It's no worth staying, we should continue or biketour!" Both of us had right. In such a bad weather the people doesn't even send his dog outside, but we had to go. On the ascent the rain fell onto our faces, but in addition we also sweated under our jerseys. First we stopped for a hot tea in Tatranska Kotlina, then on the top of the climb through Zdiar. When I looked back I could see grey clouds everywhere. Although the temperature and the rain was cold for our hands, we were still cheerful, we could still laugh. I preferred the ascents to the descents because on the climbs I wasn't cold. The weather was dark and grey; at the height of 1000m we met with clouds. After crossing the polish border the rain stopped, there was only fog. We didn't want to be cold, so we chose to set up our tents between the fir trees. The grass and the trees were wet, water was dropping from the branches. We needed some time to be able to make fire. The branches could just get warm and burn well, we could just finish our lunch when it started to rain again. We covered our packs, tents and bikes with nylon (polietilen) fast, then we slipped into our tent ansd sleeping-bags.
In the morning we could wait for the end of the rain for a few hours, but when there was a little water inside the tent we decided to pack and go. In the 10-12 degree cold weather we packed up in half an hour. In the evening we decided to roll down to the 15 km far situated Zakopane, the "capital" of the polish Tatra. This time I wasn't interested in the shop-windows or the products of the sellers in the busy promenade; we liked to go and have lunch in the warm pizzeria. We found an appartment not too far from the center. We had just finished to slip out from our wet clothes, when the owner lady came to us and gave us hot tea. It was a nice surprise. We were tired so we needn't too much time to fall asleep. A light sunshine made us wake up. We wanted to forgot the cloudy and rainy mountains of the Tatra, so we left the town in short time. During cycling towards the slovakian border (westwards from the Tatra) we were rolling through friendly villages. In Chocholow I enjoyed to see so many nice wooden house. It was just like a skanzen / village-museum. As we left the area and the fir trees were changed by leafy forests we changed our long armed clothes for light jerseys too. We were bicycling back into the summer Thanks for our good speed, in the afternoon we could dry our clothes on the beach of the slovakian Oravsky lake. We took our clothes onto the grids of a boathouse. The pleasant wind dried our clothes, sleeping-bags, and tent in a few hours.

In the following day we could took delight in the castle of Orava, that was built onto a steep rock. We went on cycling in the flat valley of the Orava river to Dolny Kubin, the town that I can remember because of its nice flowery bridge. After we left the town we had to hurry to under the roof of a bus station; we had a fast shower. To arrive to Terchova, the center of the Small / Little Fatra we needed our last efforts to climb a 12-14% steep ascent. As we saw some tables that prohibitted a lot of things because of the National Park, we decided to sleep outside of it. After a breakfast in the sunny square, we was biking through the nice, romantic, rocky Vratna canyon in sunshine and under blue sky. I found it one of the most beautiful place during our tour A stream was plashing (csobog) next to the road, and some green fir trees made the land variable with the white rocks. Although for that day we planned only 90 km cycling without any serious climb, so we didn't have to hurry, we left the kilometers fast. Next to the Strecno fortress we crossed the Vah river on a thin pedestrian bridge. After an hour cycling on the busy main road along the river we arrived at Martin. In the evening we arrived at the next National Park, to the Big Fatra. In the following morning I could admire the rocky canyon, where I also enjoyed the vegetation very much. There I could see so many versionS of the green colour. The sunshine through the leaves and the voices of the stream made it more interesting and fantastic. For that day we planned to climb only one ascent: the 890m high Harmanec pass towards Banska Bystrica. Hearing the name of this town our heart were beating faster because we thought more and more about our family and land, Hungary. Sometimes we looked back on the days of our tour and talked about our memories. It was nice to hear from the guys that on such a light and pleasant ascent they could bike up to the sky. J Banska Bystrica was a surprise in that summer too: with its beauty, order and with the fresh painted houses it "rose above" the other sloakian towns (In the year 1999 we visited Kosice; that is an other town which is very beautiful). The main square was closed from the cars and it was covered with nice paving-stone. In the square there were a lot of clear shop-windows, restaurants, confectioner's, parasols, and flowers. We could see this beauty only in the center, but I think that was only the start of how to lure the tourists there. In the evening we set up our tents not far from a lake near Zvolen, which is the birthplace of a famous hungarian poet, Bálint Balassi. We spent the evening with toasting bacon. That was our last evening in Slovakia in 1997.
For the next day there were hardly any scenic beauty, but we had reason for being cheerful. After a short climb we were bicycling on the side on the Javorosky mountain-range, when I saw a ca. 3m high "man and woman". "They" we built from three straw bale and were put on some traditional clothes. It was funny. In the villages not far from the hungarian border we could often speak hungarian with the people, so the main "problem" was how to spend our slovakian money, bacause there wasn't any place in our packs. We found our last place for our tents on the shore of the Lake Nyírjes, next to Balassagyarmat, in Hungary. There were a lot of mosquito there so it was the best thing to escape into the tent. It wasn't a problem to sleep early in the evening, because on the following day the boys had to cycle 160kms to their home, at Szolnok. In our last morning it was good to buy in a hungarian shop, and hear hungarian voices again. With arriving at Hungary there weren't too high mountains, long climbes; we could feel the heat again; we finished our adventures. Until our next tour, that was planned for the next year, we could only see the photos, or the videofilm and speak about the memories.
Summarizing the 14 day long tour we biked 1250 kms with 9300m heightdifference. I could suggest to cycle in Slovaky because of the beauty of the landscape, the good shaped roads and the friendly prices.

Gabor Györgyi