Tag Archives: Cycling Further Bicycle Diaries

Day 20 – They deserve the best :)

21 May


Today, we decided not to cycle and rush to Buzau (110km away) despite  the good weather conditions, but prefered to send our bikes to a shop for a 1000km check up. Our brake pads suffered from the Transfagarasan and were actually looking far more old than than what they are.

Florin, mechanic superstar

We bought great new brake pads that are supposed to last for at least 4000k :). Florin put all his passion to lift our mount as you can see.

Changing the brakes

The workshop

Florin’s collegue changing rays

After watching/learning the job he did on the first bike (work on the breaks, derailler and the chain) we went for lunch while Florin took care of the other one. Later in the afternoon we took them back and we enjoyed riding as if the bikes were brand new. Really cheap price for a really good job, so Florin, multumesc multu!!

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Day 18 Nico’s Birthday

19 May

We are writing from the appartement we’re staying in. The city of Bucharest is under water and watching at the news we see that the whole country is drowned. So, better to be here relaxing and not cycling. This morning we had to get a package at the Belgian embassy (Spot connect device for emergency cases), and met the ambassador, mr. Philippe Beke,  who very kindly opened the doors even if the embassy is normally closed during the week end. It is a beautiful art deco house that the belgian state owns since 1928.

Belgian embassy in Bucharest 

He welcomes us asking if we want to drink something (beer or champagne?) while pointing the seats in one of the the nice old living room of the embassy. Telling him it is my birthday he straight goes for champagne 🙂 .

Yves and Nico posing with the ambassador

We talked about our trip, belgian economic activities in Romania, and belgian influences in Romania (especially in Transylvania) for about an hour and a half. The ambassador is interested in our trip and provides us good tips about the areas we will cross in the upcoming weeks. We then took some time to visit the ground floor of the house and had a look on that book, showing belgian embassies throughout the world.

Looking at the belgian embassies book

The beautiful ceiling

Leopold the First

But the reality gets back and after saying goodbye to the ambassador we are once again under that pooring rain that seems to never want to stop. We need to get some food so we have to walk a bit to reach a place for the lunch.

Mega rain

After lunched we ordered a cab from as it is raining so heavily that we can’t even go on the street to get one. The touristic afternoon won’t be for today. Back in the flat to relax before tonight’s party and birthday celebration 🙂

Day 17 – Milestone : 1000 Km from Budapest to Bucharest!

19 May

Today we feel the traffic increasing on the road as we get closer from Bucharest. We still have to cover 70 k to get to Irina and Marius’ appartement (Yves’s friends hosting us for the week-end). The weather is better with sunrays even showing up from time to time. A few kilometers before reaching Bucharest we stopped to celebrate our 1000k accomplishment, as you can see the picture above 🙂 . Getting back on the road we have to deal with more and more trucks throwing wind waves straight on our side. Add dogs running and barking after us on the bill and you get the picture of what the afternoon looked like.

We got closer from the city and didn’t have to search too long for the place as it is just on our way. We dropped our luggage after meeting Irina and Marius and got ready for a relaxing week end, which is welcome because the legs feel a bit tired after 5 cycling days in row. No more trucks for the next 3 days, let’s breath!  After a good shower we have dinner in a super nice italian restaurant with our hosts’ crew, all really nice people we can talk to in english. Feels good!

Day 15…Tranfagarasan, the way down

16 May

We took our time to enjoy the scenery while having breakfast on the terrasse under a slight sun. After that we left the lodge and started the way down, which started behind that little door. It is completely dark in there, it is the longest tunnel in Romania, a kilometer long, and currently closed to cars as you can see 🙂

In some parts the tunnel soil is completely frozen and full of black ice that is really hard to spot, even with our lights. Fortunately, we are aware/lucky enough not to slip.

We’ve been told the other side of the mountain should be easier to ride  because it is the sunny one. We are then confident about finding a nice path with no snow or at least less snowy than what we had yesterday. But…this is how it looked

Our minds start feeling like going back for a sec when we discover that wall of snow in front of us. But we are too close to go back at that point. We put on our helmet for one of the first time and scouted the “path” with caution, first with no bikes, then with the luggages and finally with the bicycles. It took us almost 2 hours for less than one kilometer, but what a nice feeling to safely arrive without loosing anything.

One last little challenge, taking over that bulldozer and then it is downhill for long long time : about 30 km straight! 😉

This is freedom!

Our feet are wet and frozen but we don’t really care, we enjoy being the first people crossing the Tranfagarasan with vehicules this year. We know what we just did was maybe too much, so not sure we would cross a closed road on a high mountain again!  It might be a good lesson of wisdom. But we are happy that we conquered the Carpathian by the toughest way 🙂

The landscape gets back to green and the temperature increases as we go down

Life takes its rights

Just after taking this picture I saw a family bear running fast in the little hill. What a good day!

Victory!

 Our 20k ride in the flat lands next to the Carpathian to reach Curtea de Arges seems to be a piece of cake. Welcome back to the civilisation.

Day 14…Transfagarasan, the north face

15 May

There are no words to describe what we’ve been trough on the road. Riding Transfagarasan while it was still closed has been our best and worst idea so far.

Right now we are on the top. Couldn’t make the downhill straight, as we’ve been slowed down too much by the snow, and we’re exhausted after those 1500 meters altitude gain in one day. Sleeping in a lodge on the Baleal lake side, while there is heavy rain and wind outside.

Day 13…rain

14 May

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After saying goodbye to Anna and Jean who took care of us in Sibiu, it is time for us to get back on the bike. The weather is pretty cold and humid, a climate we didn’t experience so far. But it feels like Belgium, so we’re not too disoriented. Despite the rain, cute old ladies are working in the fields and meeting them help us go trough it.

The rain becomes even worse along the way up to the point that we are completely wet

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We stopped for lunch in a village, and people were looking at us as we were from another planet. The food does the job to make us feel better, and the weather decide to give us a truce stopping this pooring rain. Dried, we went back to cycle and everything seemed to be nicer.

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The old ladies we cross on the way act like our mom’s and were even giving us biscuits and wishing all the best which  is really appreciated.

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We are now close to one of the big expectation of the trip! The Transfagarasan, the  most famous road to transfer from the north side of the Carpathian to the south with the highest altitude in Romania. The road is opened to cars only 3 months in the year, from june to september, so at this period of the year we might have it all just for us! 🙂

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We know that we won’t make it today so let’s have a break in Cartisoara, a small town at the bottom of the mountains, to get ready for tomorrow.

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The place is really nice and Viorel is a perfect host, offering tuica and making barbecue.

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We have spent our evening sharing glasses until late. So! Noapte buna everyone and see you soon. Tomorrow will be a huge day, so i’m going to sleep now (Nic).

Day 11, Sebes to Sibiu!

13 May

Our pleasant camping ground

The first mission of the day was to go down with the gear and get back on the road.

From the top

Nico managing the way down

Once done, we had to get back on the national road for about 15km, passing through Sebes, a town rather than a village, where we ride beside trucks and fast cars. As soon as we could, we took a right and got back on the small roads we like. We entered a Unesco rural area, drove towards fields and vineyards before reaching Calnic, where we could visit a 13th century castle, nicely maintained by the local community.

The bell tower

View from the bell tower

After lunch, we did chose to continue riding small paths, but it became much harder than expected, as the road was really steep, and consisted in rocks, sand and earth. It seemed like a never ending climb, around 2 hours under the heat, we start sweating and swearing a lot, a premiere in our journey. From the top of the mountain (we didnt know we were about to climb a mountain), the view is really awesome. And we are awesomely exhausted.

Typical village of Transilvania

The reward was nice enough though : a splendid 20 km ride downhill through forests and typical villages. As Sibiu is the next big town in the valley, we just had to let ourselves go and we reached our destination at about 7.30PM. Those 90km were not the easiest ones, but it was a good training for the next big step, the Transfagarasan -crossing the edge of Carpathian from north to south-.

An Awesome down hill ride

We have been received like kings by friends’ parents with warm welcome and traditional food : sarmale, csorba, mamaliga, sweets and more.

Sarmale 🙂

A warm shower and a funny chat in french/romanian/what else/ later and we’re good to crash in our bed. We decided to take a day off after 3 days of intensive ride, so we will spend some time to visit Sibiu, one of the nicest town in Romania, and rest before the big climb.