Author Topic: Transfăgărăşan pass  (Read 4822 times)

iakobski

Transfăgărăşan pass
« on: November 16, 2009, 02:51:52 pm »
On the box last night, Top Gear took a drive on the Transfăgărăşan pass in the Carpathian mountains in Romania. Looks absolutely stunning, see pics plus satelite starting around Lake Balea google maps

Anyone done this? It looks about 200 km from Sibiu to Piteşti, so perhaps a long w/e cycle out and back, with a day in Bucharest?
The route looks to be virtually duplicated by the E81 motorway to the West, so is it likely to be fairly traffic-free? A Romanian colleague says the attitude of drivers towards cyclists is very poor, but I think she only ever cycled in Bucharest.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 03:09:48 pm »
On the box last night, Top Gear took a drive on the Transfăgărăşan pass in the Carpathian mountains in Romania. Looks absolutely stunning, see pics plus satelite starting around Lake Balea google maps

Anyone done this? It looks about 200 km from Sibiu to Piteşti, so perhaps a long w/e cycle out and back, with a day in Bucharest?
The route looks to be virtually duplicated by the E81 motorway to the West, so is it likely to be fairly traffic-free? A Romanian colleague says the attitude of drivers towards cyclists is very poor, but I think she only ever cycled in Bucharest.

It looks like a mishmash of the best bits of the Stelvio pass and Trollstigen. Maybe there is the basis for a reasonable Audax Sportif there.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

thing1

  • aka Joth
    • TandemThings
Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2009, 01:06:37 pm »
Mentioned it to my Romanian colleague, he says it's fairly traffic free up there, but the pass is only  open summer months.
Like most of his country folk my colleague is big a Clarkson fan -- Romania is a big importer of all things TopGear he says. (It was a nationally a quite widely reported event when they went there to film that piece)

JStone

  • E=112
Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2009, 10:38:41 pm »
At the other end of the Carpathian Mountains is yours truly (but only for half the year)....

great photos - wish I'd know just how good it was for cycling around Poprad before we stayed just up the road in Velky Slavkov for a week last year while walking in the High Tatras - would have taken bikes.
Néophyte > 2007 > Ancien > 2011 > Récidiviste

iakobski

Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2011, 02:46:18 pm »
Well, after a little procrastination, I'm off to do this, plus some of transylvania - forest, mountains, medieval towns Sighisoara, Sibiu, etc. Itinerary TBD.

If anyone fancies joining me 23-25 Sept flying back early Monday 26th, flight is currently 155 GBP including bike... looking at something like 150-200 km/day

iakobski

Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2011, 09:21:37 am »
Well that was a lot of fun, and Romania very interesting.


Ready to go, bike bag strapped to the rack.


The roads are wide and smooth and empty


Except when they're not!


The start of the Transfăgărăşan highway


In the mist you can start to see the Carpathians


The road climbs through Transylvanian forest


Above the treeline and it starts to get misty


Which did start to spoil the view of the snaking road...


At the top (2100 m) there's Lake Balea - which I couldn't find until I nearly stepped in it.
The road then starts to descend by going through Romania's longest tunnel, which was narrow, unlit and full of fog. And the sound of lorries.  :-\


So back down the way I came.


So what's Romania like for cycling? Well there weren't that many other cyclists barring the odd person on a three speed going to the shop or the next village. There were six other road bikes I saw on the mountain, and a number of hybrids that had clearly been taken up in a van to freewheel down. On the sunday I saw a group of lycra'd up mountain bikers offroading in the forest, but that was it.

There are not many roads. What's marked as a minor road on the map is basically gravel and sand. The trunk routes (E-roads) are mostly single carriageway with a narrow shoulder & deep ditch and nose to tail traffic. The other roads are as wide as the trunk roads but fairly quiet. The problem is you can't avoid using the trunk roads at some points. Also if the road goes to a town in the next county, well no-one needs to go out of county do they, so this:

will suddenly turn to this:
and be marked exactly the same on the map.

The drivers are amazingly good. Yes, all traffic laws are disregarded completely, and there being few roads means there will be big lorries on the "minor" roads,  but they also don't have the British presumption that they should be able to continue at full speed no matter what. They simply will not blat round a blind bend or over the brow of  a hill, because there's a very high chance of there being a pony and cart there - there are at least as many carts as cars on the back roads. Within minutes of being back in England I had two drivers in succession trying to get through a pinch point at the same time as me and running out of road.

Would I recommend it for cycle touring? Well, yes and no. The people are great, the countryside interesting, other than in the mountains it is flat and wind-free with some rolling bits. But using the E-roads (where unavoidable) can be a bit hairy - you absolutely must stay in the narrow shoulder apart from at bridges, with lorries one side and either gravel or a deep ditch the other. A lot of give and take is needed. The drivers are fine about it though - there will be other cyclists, pedestrians and ponies on the road too.

More pictures, and bigger versions of the ones above here


Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2011, 11:20:13 pm »
Looks great. I've never been to Romania but I know a few people, of various nationalities, who have, and they all come back saying how lovely it is and how friendly the people are.

More pictures, and bigger versions of the ones above http://handsonit.co.uk/images/photos/Romania2011/index.html


That link needs fixing. I think it should be here.

A cup of tea is the perfect bridge between real life and cake.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2011, 11:24:33 pm »
Looking at the photos, I presume the women in big red skirts are Roma/Sinti/Gypsies. Were they dressed up for some special occasion or do they were that kind of "traditional-folkloric costume" all the time?
A cup of tea is the perfect bridge between real life and cake.

iakobski

Re: Transfăgărăşan pass
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2011, 08:04:44 am »
Looking at the photos, I presume the women in big red skirts are Roma/Sinti/Gypsies. Were they dressed up for some special occasion or do they were that kind of "traditional-folkloric costume" all the time?
Yes, that's right that's gypsy clothing. Romanians from that area would traditionally wear white with an apron, something like this:
.
I only saw them wearing the traditional skirts on the Sunday, so assumed that was the reason, but apparently they do wear them all the time in that area - the women wearing the pristiine white shirts were in their Sunday best, but would have worn the skirts all week - like the ones with the snoopy t-shirts.

Thanks for the link fix.