Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Romania - Day 2

Today turned out to be a bit of a mini epic... 47 km covered in the mountains, (152 km for the whole day), but in true form for any decent mountain range, the distance is irrelevant and the terrain is everything!

We set off around 8.30 am, heading up the forest road at the end of the valley, looking for a short steep left turn... JP tore his Achilles tendon in the first 3 metres of the ascent, so he was out and limped back to the accommodation to lay up for the day to look at flights home and talk to a doctor. Once he was sorted, the rest of us headed up into the trees, following a GPX route Gareth had done a few times before.

The recent afternoon storms had turned the trails into rivers and we found our first obstacle of the day, climbing uphill in the stream bed... We managed 300m before deciding to try to find another route up as this was chewing up loads of time.

So we dropped back down to the main forest track and headed deeper into the forest until we chanced upon a newly cut forestry lane heading steeply uphill. This turned out to be fast and slick, we all managed to get up it pretty fast and was soon high enough to look for the junction with our original trail.

We found this and ended up fighting through the forest itself, picking a line through the trees. The fan on my bike had stopped working so as the bikes were working pretty hard, there was steam belting out and I thought I'd bust a hose at first, but it was just the engine getting too hot!

We exited the trees onto open prairie land, still climbing to get to a ridge, but once there, we had our first panoramic views of the Carpathian Mountains. I'd forgotten how at home I feel in the mountains, especially when I get high up. Years ago I would have been itching to run this ridge, but these days with a knackered body and spirit, the bike is the next best thing, allowing me to traverse great distances and still see some of these wondrous sights.

We traversed a ridge, stopping to talk to some shepherds tending their large flock, to play in the remaining snow patches and to take loads of pics. A big hill climb separated the men from the boys, with Matt, then Gareth, then Steve all making the ascent. Darren & I tried it but decided to find another route up. Then along a knife edge ridge to another summit before rolling over several more ridges and summits to reach our descent back into the forest.

Once back in the forest, we had another mini epic, trying to connect a bit of trail, so more steep ascent, a traverse and then a steep drop into a forest piste. This then dropped really steeply, eventually coming back into some more river traversing sections where we had to roll over boulders and ride down the streambed for about a kilometre. Darren's Husqvarna 350 4 stroke lost the cold start button from under the tank, this meant he had no tick over, so the rivers were really hard work for him.

This took us into a deeper river crossing where we had an audience of some forestry workers, luckily no one dropped their bike so after a brief chat, it was back onto the flat piste that took us to a reservoir and as it was now nearly 5pm, we decided to follow it down to the tarmac road and take this back.

En route we stopped at a lovely little village bar for a beer and a gossip, chatting with the lass there who worked in the UK for 6 months every year. We then moved onto Caracebes, where we fuelled up and rolled our bikes into the town square so we could sit in a posh bar for another beer before doing the final ride back to the accommodation.

We got back around 8.30 pm, so a 12 hour day of some excellent fun, lots of laughs and a few moments of frustration including me falling downhill again! Dinner went down really well as did some of the wine and more beer...

Wow, what a place, I can't wait to explore some more around here!