Day 41: Deva to Sibiu, Romania

Because I want to stop at a bigger town, Sibiuis my goal today

My ride today was shorter and, for the first half, much less pleasant than yesterday. The second half was much hillier, but more pleasant . I started from a smoggy Deva, riding in heavy traffic with bad diesel exhaust fumes. Not boring, in fact challenging, but also not much fun. It got less smoggy as I got away from the city, but the traffic remained heavy and riding was stressful. I had to bail out (get as far as I could away from the road and stop) three times as a truck and two buses deliberately passed into me. I would stop, brace myself and they would come by on the white line (edge) on my lane with, at most, a foot of clearance between my bags and the side of their vehicle.

The shoulder was 6 to 8 inches wide. While riding on it, my bags went just over the white line. If I had kept riding, these jerks would have hit me or, at best, their windstream would have sucked me into them. They knew that and passed into me anyway. There is song from the 60's that applies to how I felt about them: It is called "If I had a rocket launcher."

A horse drawn wagon on the other side of a sunflower field next to Highway 7

A pretty hill running north of Highway 1

I stopped for a break after about 30 km,and for lunch about 10 km before Sebes. After 40 km, I needed to get away from that traffic! Lunch was good and the service was good as well, which helped me recover from my road stress. Shortly after I left, I got off of Highway 7 - the main route to Bucharest, and onto Highway 1, the route to Brasov, which has many fewer trucks and buses. Riding was less stressful, but much hillier after that.

I saw more evidence of prostitution today on Highway 7. It disturbs me that one of the 'better' ways women here have to make a living is prostitution. Poverty drives that sort of thing and poverty is a very evident fact of life here. Child adoption from Romania is another poverty driven problem, just as it is for Guatemala, the Latin America country I am most familiar with. I know this isn't relevant to riding here, unless you are looking for a good time (?), but it definitely is part of the riding experience.

Today's sharpest experience was watching a women get into the passenger side of a fancy BMW at a road side pullover and then, almost immediately, get out again. The BMW pulled out past me and I saw a middle aged man driving it. The woman, who had seen me watching, yelled something at me as I rode past. I don't know if she was pissed that I was watching or thought I might be a potential customer. I also saw a Mercedes drop a woman off at a pullover and then head back the way it had come. Another middle aged man was driving, but I have no idea if he was a customer or her pimp.

Miercurea Sibui, a pretty town with a big ridge behind it
You can see Highway 1 switchbacking up the ridge

Miercurea Sibui, as seen from near the top of that ridge
Highway 1 comes in from the left center in this image

When I got near Miercurea Sibiuliu, a suspicious place on my map because the road does some jogs and the railroad does a lot of them, I stopped at a roadside place for a break form the heat and the climbing. I visited with a Romanian fellow who also stopped. Our conversation was not very communicative, but it was very friendly. I thing he was trying to tell me about the big hill ahead. He was walking down the road and had stopped for the same reason I did. He left a little before I did and we waved and smiled as I passed on my way to Miercurea Sibiului. This is very pretty town at the bottom of today's biggest hill.

The hill was about 200 meters tall and marked, at the bottom as 8 %. I've seen lots of hills marked with percent grade at the top, but this is the first one I've sen marked at the bottom. I think it is because many vehicles here might have trouble with that grade, especially one that are overloaded. I went up that hill almost as fast as some of the bigger trucks and faster than some overloaded cars that had to stop repeatedly because of overheating.

After Miercurea Sibui, the road has a great shoulder all the way to Sibui

The last hill before Sibui
You cans see one of the problems with a great shoulder, too many vehicle drive on it!

I got to Sibiu after a bit over 70 miles, and five hours and fourtyfive minutes, of riding. A short day, even if it was pretty hilly. If I went on from here, the next place I could be sure of finding a room, Fagaras, is fifty, hilly miles further on. I could probably - it depends on exactly how hilly it is - make that, but it would be a very long day. Yesterday, I realized that I had needed to do my regular chain and pedal cleaning and lube, but, it was along day so I didn't have time. Today I had time and I have my bike in my room - first floor and a new building so I only had to climb a fairly short flight of stairs carrying the loaded bike - which makes it a lot more convenient to work on. My chain and pedal lube routine is clean enough to do in my room. I also replaced one of my Eggbeater cleats. It had no more than 2500 miles on it, but was getting hard to release. When I fell in Grenoble, it didn't release. With the regular servicing, my pedals and my chain look like they'll last for the entire tour ( I have spares for both) but the Eggbeater cleats have a much shorter lifetime. I expected that.

I was not pleased this morning when my hotel charged me a higher rate than they had posted. It was still sub $35, but it was annoying. That hotel, the Hotel Deva, was rather dreary, but everything worked, including the room darkening curtains, and breakfast was excellent. My previous night I was at Hotel Marem in Arad, which, for the same charge, was air conditioned and rather elegant, but didn't work as well. Tonight, for 10% less, I'm at a Motel in a nicer room that either of the hotels. However, when I took a shower, it leaked and flooded the bathroom. When I went to open the wardrobe, the knob came off in my hand. At the Marem, when I first sat on the toilet, the entire seat assembly slid off. That could have been painful. The control lever on the sink also came off in my hand. Its set screw appeared never to have been tightened.

In the Hotel Deva, the only weird thing was that the main light fixture (tonight's room has good lighting, the other two did not) strobed after it was turned off. It flashed, apparently forever at about one flash every ten seconds! I wondered why the bulb was unscrewed when I got the room. The bed and bed clothes where also strange, but I slept well.

Tonight, I had an excellent dinner, one of the best of this tour, for just over $6. I mean excellent in quality, preparation and presentation. You couldn't do as well for less than about $30 in the States. And that $6 includes half a liter of beer and a esspresso after dinner. Of course I won't sleep as well because of the dinner, but it may have been worth it. Burp.

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