Dances with Thunderstorms

A campground whose sole purpose is providing more access to a fun park not the most conducive to a good night’s sleep.

With rain in the forecast for late afternoon, and a long day ahead of me, I managed to leave the campground by 9 am (more like 8:55 but I went back for my clothesline).

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Averaging 17 kph for the first two hours by highway, I selected the first
non-highway route that presented itself. I can cycle on highway, and highways typically provide direct, straight access. But the whir of traffic only a few feet away wears constantly, and leaves me trapped in a cage, desperately seeking escape. Long enough and I start making strange choices.

Finally a path emerged of tertiary roads paralleling the main highway. Changing to the other side of the river, and 4 km out of the way, but blissful solitude. Solitude I  asked for, solitude received, at a cost. While the map indicated a paved road, someone lied to the  cartographer. The road started as packed earth, and went figuratively downhill (and literally uphill) from there. The farther I went, the more the road deteriorated, and roads rarely get better unless approaching another major road, and this road had 25 km of minimal access. I trudged onwards, ever hopeful, mostly cycling, but at a bike-jarring pace.  The road started to improve, and I reached the first option to return to the main road. According to the map the road upgraded to the next category of roadf, so I pressed on. The road improved shortly thereafter.

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That grass track improved over the prior washed out ditches, and after losing my way once, I arrived on top of a dike, which eventually lead to my second option to return to the main highway. Continuing onward the road appeared to improve, but I was done playing that game. Enough relaxation and solitude, I returned to the highway.

Having lost time to tortuous road conditions, I found myself headed into the forecast thunderstorm. Lightning thrashing the mountaintop ahead, the hills around me shrouded in clouds. The cars from the other direction still dry, I pressed ever onwards, noting potential shelters along the way.

As light rain began to fall, I ducked into a timely abandoned warehouse. 30 minutes later with the rainfall diminishing, I could see the center of the storm (via the lightning) moving south, and made a dash forward. 3 km later had me taking shelter at a gas station with two motorcyclists as the rain began in earnest. The hourly forecast showed more extensive rain later in the day, limiting my ability to delay, so when the rainfall slowed, I headed out, 18 km to go.

With lightning and thunder to my right, and winds blowing towards me, I raced to Sibiu, back on the highway. Wearing the jacket from Hayden, trucks blew past me with a spray of water from the now-wet roads to little effect. The closer I came to Sibiu, the farther I moved from the storm, and the rain continued to decrease until the sun returned.

While I saw a highway sign for camping, with more rain forecast I headed to a hostel, beating the next storm by about an hour. Except that privacy in the hostel is strange (no locks on the bathroom stall doors, and the men’s showers are four shared showers as if in a gym), the hostel appears clean and organized.

The next major city to the west is 120k, so I’m not how that will work out tomorrow.

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