Day 40: Arad to Deva, Romania

It takes hills to have Castles - this one is in Deva, Romania

I rode from Arad to Deva today. That is a bit over 100 miles and it took me, finally, off the Great Hungarian Plain where I have been riding since my last full day in Croatia. Roughly 75 miles of today ride was up the Mures river valley. It is a broad, gentle valley, so it is not really hilly, but the hills are increasing, both around me and in the valley, as I ride.

The distance to Deva from just north of Arad - 163 km

I was scared when I started riding today. I was scared because I was going into the unknown, with a long distance to cover, few services, and in a country that many people said was dangerous. I was scared because, when I withdrew 3,000,000 Lei from THE Bankomat (still the only one I've seen), a man stood behind me. He did not use the Bankomat after me, but instead made a call on his cellular phone. That triggered a paranoia that made it very hard for me to continue riding into Romania. When I got away from the center of town and was riding in a poor, industrial neighborhood, I was feeling very afraid. I stopped and considered, should I turn back west and get back to Hungary where I am comfortable? No, I will go on.

When I got to the highway, the sign said 163 km to Deva. There are no big towns between here and there and, in a way, this will be almost like riding across the loneliest parts of the North American plains. There are little towns, although they are far apart in some sections, and I hoped there there would be services I could use along the highway, but I could be in for a long day that failed to make Deva. I resolved to live in the moment, rather than worry about what might happen. I had prepared as best I could with food and water for a long days ride. I could deal with what happened, or, if I couldn't, I would find someone to help me. I relaxed, immersed myself in Romania, and had long, but good ride.

A horse drawn wagon, stopping on the highway to fill its tires from the air hose at a service station
Romania is a strange mix of old and new

A covered well, with a crank and bucket - I saw a lot of these

Haystacks, Romanian style

I rode Highway 7, which is also E68, all day. It had a fair to good shoulder almost all the time, and lots of big trucks heading for Bucharest or Bulgaria. The wind was not a big factor today, although there were periods of both head and tail winds, and I never had to deal with the nasty crosswind I rode in yesterday. Mostly the riding was along the railroad tracks and/or the river. Easy riding, so I was able to average over 13 mph. I was pushing it, because I knew I had a long way to go and I didn't want to arrive too late. Because of doing yesterdays web page and other things, like shopping for supplies, this morning, I didn't get out of Arad till almost 11 AM. My legs were tired and a bit sore after the last several days of hard rides, but my body is now in good touring condition and I can do long days without suffering. It is a wonderful feeling to have my body work so well.

E68 on the Great Hungarian Plain, with train

A typical section of E68

A town on E68

The traffic on E68

I stopped for lunch at a restaurant after the highway entered the hills. That proved to be a time wasting process. I had an OK light lunch. There was about 20 minutes of eating and drinking and about 40 minutes of waiting involved. That meant that I was half an hour later getting to Deva than I needed to be. I was sitting in a pleasant place and was not impatient, but, unlike eating restaurant in France, it wasn't worth the wait. Services became much scarcer later in the ride, and, although I made several stops, I used the supplies I had with me for the rest of them.

Speaking of services, one section of E68 was very well serviced with working girls who service the truckers. I saw a trucker negotiating with a woman, another trucker stopped and picked up a woman while I waited behind him, and I saw another woman rubbing her hand and her face after she got out of a truck that drove on. Two, very attractive, women standing by the road just before a motel (Romania has motels and hotels), seemed interested in me as I rode by, but it was too early to stop .

Although the riding was generally good, I did have a problem with vehicles passing into me. When cars were doing it, and I had a rideable shoulder, it was annoying. When two large trucks passed other large trucks in a blind corner where the shoulder went away, I had to bail out to keep from being killed. I like to think about things while I ride, and I've done a lot of that here, but it could get me killed if I'm not watching for those folks!

I also had the experience of having water dumped on me from the passenger side of a large truck. It was clean water from a water bottle and the jerk that did it was just having a good time. I raised a finger at him, he returned it, and then proceeded to dump water on a woman who was walking down the road ahead of me. I saw another wet spot a little later that I think was another of his victims. I did have stop and dry off my camera, but there was no real harm done.

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