Day 1 was a little fragmented in that a group of 11 were all coming together from both the UK and Canada and our Canadian contingent ended up being delayed. In the end, the three of them turned up directly from the airport in their lycra – bikes having been rebuilt in the car park. Albeit middle afternoon, we left Bucharest for an easy 50km ride to our first overnight in Titu.
Day 2 and the ride gets underway ‘for real’ as we set out on a 140 km from Titu to Lake Vidraru.
We started climbing into the Carpathian mountains and eventually heading up to our next hotel on the edge of Lake Vidraru. We were getting out into some of the more isolated parts of Romania and although the hotelier took great delight in warning us of the bears and the wolves in the mountains, in reality, it was the domestic dogs that roamed in packs through any of the villages that you went through that were the immediate danger.
Winding through a village at speed, with 3-4 dogs nipping at your heels was not the time to refer to the phrase book to see what “down boy” in Romanian was!
Day 3 was the big day where we set out from Lake Vidraru to Fragras over the Transfagarasan Pass and climbed further to the high Carpathians with an altitude of 2034 metres. The days ride was 120 km, 60 km of which was an assent up to 2034 metres before an epic decent of 50 km in the afternoon. It was a fairly brutal day having spent approximately 7-hours in the saddle. However there was a tremendous sense of satisfaction having ridden over one of the most spectacular passes in Europe.
Day 4, we now ride from Fragras via Brasov to the historic and legendary town of Bran – this is Count Dracula territory and the ride reaches its crescendo at Bran Castle high in the mountains.
Plenty of garlic on the menu this evening and the meal was much appreciated after a 100km ride, an assent of 900 metres and again, what goes up must come down, so we had a 650 metre descent which made the afternoon a little easier.
Day 5 was a ride from Bran to Targoviste which was a steady descent all the way. The day was rich with history as we ride from the home of Vlad the Impaler to the site of one of the most notorious victories (the Night Attackers). The town was also the site of the trial and execution of Nicolae Ceausescu. So, 140km for the day to finish off the ride but an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and culture as we ride through rural Romania into one of the most historically steeped cities in Eastern Europe.
Throughout the trip the road conditions varied and in some cases the roads just disappeared! Some of the potholes were quite spectacular and on the last day as we cycled for two hours through a major thunderstorm and torrential rain, it was interesting to try to identify whether the puddle you were going through was a shallow puddle or a large pothole. It was a bit of a lottery but thankfully no serious damage done. That night we had a splendid meal in Bucharest before shipping the bikes to the airport and getting our flights back to the UK. The trip allowed you to get truly under the surface of the country and allowed us to sample the full breadth of what Romania had to offer.
Time spent in capital, the high mountains and the experience of the Romanian rural country life was a fantastic experience helped by cycling one of Europe’s most spectacular roads.
To see a short video of the route please click on the link below:
Transfagarasan Cycle Trip 2014