Day 45: Reghin to Dej, Romania

A Romanian Traffic Jam
The large truck in my lane has broken down and is being repaired in the road
The cow drawn hay wagon is, slowly, passing the broken truck and there is a line of cars behind that big truck!

Roxy and Dorsh, my new Romanian bicyclist friends

This was a short riding day - only about five riding hours to cover 65 miles as compared to almost eight to cover 95 miles yesterday. I ended up taking full advantage of my 'free' time by spending most of it with new friends in Beclean Romania. This was my best Romanian visit by far since they are bicycle tourists and she speaks English pretty well. We spend several hours together talking and joking and laughing and learning about each other. Then, after turning down an invitation to spend the night there, I rode on to Dej, where I am at an inexpensive hotel - 18 Euro or 600,000 Lei, The proprietor had a hard time believing I was alone. One of the things my new friends and I talked about was men coming to Romania for sex with the, truly beautiful, Romanian women. I think the women are stunning, but I came here to meet people and get a feel for the country. Today was very good for both, plus I got to enjoy looking at, and talking to, Roxy .

The nicest riding of the day was on 15A
Here is its start a few miles south of Reghin

A pretty hill at the side of the first valley 15a runs through

Looking back on the first valley while climbing out of it

I rode south from Reghin after a very good breakfast, and turned west on Highway 15a a few miles later. When I was in Racu, I was at the easternmost point on my route. Now I'm headed back west (in two senses) to Hungary. Highway 15 was a very nice ride, without much traffic and with lots of great scenery.

15a goes through three valleys between Reghin and Highway 17 near Bistra. In the first valley, when I stopped to take a picture of a hill, a fellow in a horse drawn wagon stopped on the other side of the road. He called Bonjour! Italiano? I turned to him and replied Anglay! He didn't know English, but I went over to his side of the road and we visited for ten minutes or so in a mixture of languages. He really like bicycle tourists and had had German tourists stay with him at his home near Reghin. He asked if I need anything and told me that there was a village just a few Km down the road. He invited me to come with him - I'm not sure if that was for lunch or a visit to to stay at his house, but probably all three. I told him I had to go on - I didn't try too tell him I needed to meet friends in Hamburg in ten days or so, that would have been to complicated, but I thanked him profusely for the visit and rode on, really appreciating Romania.

Riding 15a, like riding most places in Romania, I was stared at by almost everyone I passed. Folks will look up as I come by and then swivel to follow me down the road. There are lots of bicyclist here, but few are loaded touring bikes. This is not a place to tour if being stared at bothers you! Romanians look you straight in the eye and sometimes smile, but often keep a completely neutral expression. Kids, and some adults, will race me on their bicycles. I'm easy to beat if I'm going up hill, but very hard for them to keep up on the flat and almost impossible to catch going down hill. I had a kid, maybe ten years old, riding with his girl friend, take off ahead of me today after calling back to her so that she swiveled on her bike to look at me. He was spinning his heart out on that mountain bike, but I was doing 18 mph or so and he just couldn't keep ahead of me. It was neat to see him cross himself as he spun past a crucifix at the side of the road. There are lots of crucifixes here and some bicyclist, especially young ones, cross themselves as they ride past each one.

The town at the head of the second valley 15a runs through

Looking back on the second valley while climbing out of it
That is an 8% grade, but the climb is about a km long

The third valley which also contains Highway 17

After 15a ended at Highway 17, riding was not as good, but it was still pretty good. The road was usually OK, and it seemed to be generally downhill, so I could make good speed on it without beating myself to death. It was also pretty, but not as pretty as 15a. My standards for 'good road' have declined a lot recently. The roads that I consider good here, I would be miserable on back in the USA. Now, if I can ride it at 15 mph without getting beat to death, it is good road. Most of 15a was good, but there were a few bad section. 17 had more long, moderately, bad sections, including the part from Beclean to Dej which was thump-thump big time due the the regular, half inch wide, gaps across the road, but, as long as I could take the thumps, I could ride at speed. Then, just before Dej, the cracks went away and I was riding on wavy patched pavement where I had to slow down.

A bumpy section of 15a

17 before Beclean with a strange traffic mix

A good part of 17 just after Beclean with a friend of my new friends riding ahead of me
You can see the cracks here, but they are filled in. Later they are open gaps

Another downside to the bumpy roads is that my good knee is stiff today. My bad knee was hurting after the really bumpy road because the bumpiness makes the forces on my knees jerky rather than smooth. My good knee is hurting today because I pushed too hard during the last part of my ride yesterday. With those gaps in the pavement and smooth pavement in between, it feels better if I go faster. That, and my macho enjoyment of being the fastest bike on the road , made me hurt my knee. I'll need to back off on those big gears today. Hopefully my knee will not get worse if I baby it a bit!

I haven't babied my bike at all, and it has been taking even more of a beating than I have. My wheels have stayed true and, as far as I know, nothing has broken or come loose. This has been a real torture test for my wheels, tires - I'm very glad I dumped the Conti with the sidewall bulge!, racks, and suspension bits. My Softride stem, after being quiet for most of this tour, started creaking a lot after the really bad section the day before yesterday. The Tricky Dick seatpost seems to be doing fine. I am tempted to set it so that it is more active, i.e. set it with some sag when I sit on it, but I'm still afraid of the effect on my knees. My Flite seat does a fair job on the little stuff and the Tricky Dick really helps on the big bumps, but it is not active on the 'little' stuff like those half inch cracks. It does absorb the really big impacts very well.

I am also happy that my computer is a Toughbook. The thing that killed my computers before I started using Toughbooks was vibration. This trip has vibrated me, and everything on my bike, much more than I have been vibrated before. Thinking about it, when I get my bike this morning, I need to go over all its nuts and bolts to make sure everything is still tight. As in most places I have stayed in Europe, my bike is in storage downstairs at this hotel. Since I don't have the bike with me except when I am riding it, and I forget to check it regularly.

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