The long road

Tired of the heat, a quick breakfast before packing up meant leaving the hostel by 9 am. The storms yesterday brought a change in temperature, the temperature today almost cool enough to wear a jacket. With nothing on my agenda today but heading west, I decided I’d go until I either arrived in Deva (120 km away), or reached my limits. The road paralled both the rail line and a river; I had high hopes for a reasonable gradient. The path west provided only one choice – highway – and as the only East/West route on the  northern side of the Carpathians, traffic was guaranteed to be heavy.

When cycling from London to Edinburgh, I cycled the length of Hadrian’s Wall to end up in Carlisle. Every resource I had (guide book, locals, other cyclists) informed me the path from Carlisle to Edinburgh, a major thoroughfare, threatened death and destruction, as the connecting  highway served as a major thoroughfare,  for a specific reason – no other route existed. Unbeknownst to my advisors, construction on a super highway finished a few months before, and the super highway assumed the primary role. I spent the day cycling on a bicycle path, next to the old four-lane highway, averaging a single car every half hour.

My map showed incomplete construction of a super-highway planned parallel to that route. I hoped today for the same circumstance as Carlisle. I saw signs for the new highway on the way into town, so my questions had to do with completion more than existence. Working out as hoped, the entire day I could see the super highway, packed with traffic, sometimes as little as 20 m away, but holding a majority of the traffic that would otherwise be flying past me. Traffic still heavier than I’d prefer, the super highway made traffic bearable. Evidencing the change, empty abandoned hulks of hotels and gas stations littered the road I followed.

Signage led me to a fortified church, with a ticket office, only to tell me they were renovating the church and not open for visitors, and the church not visible from the entrance. The second church, also under renovation and not accessible, at least painted a pretty picture.


Two issues emerged for the day. The old highway followed the contours of the land, mostly. The gradient at 7-10% at times challenged me. The day proved difficult in that the gradient for most of the day was either up or down, with not much in between. Travelling with constant gradient significantly decreases my average speed. The wind took an even larger role, with wind gusts up to 23 mph, and a constant, direct headwind. Between the wind and the hills, my average speed across the day was little more than 10 kph, and cycling, except for the occasionally break, all day. At the 50 km mark, I knew there was little chance of me arriving in Deva, and selected Orastie as my new destination, some 85 km from where I started.

By 70 km, my entire body ached. Pushing against a headwind, especially with the aerodynamic brick that I ride, exhausts me. I arrived at the pensione dead tired, only to find no one. After pondering the circumstance for a bit, I called the phone number, and was told (after the usual language gyrations) someone would be there in five minutes. Clean accommodations mitigated by the lack of a lock on the door of the bathroom, shower, and my room. I’m settled in for the night, but I brought my bike into the room, and propped it up against the door.


I realized today I haven’t take a day off in a while. I’ve considered Brasov as break time, but every day there but the first I cycled, and I’ve cycled three long days since leaving Brasov. Nothing interesting here, so I’m moving on tomorrow, but I need a new plan.


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