Day 23, Slobozia to near Ploiesti, RO

My over priced - by Bulgarian standards - hotel did have the best breakfast I've had on this tour. After breakfast, I worked for an hour on yesterday's web page, so I didn't get on the road till 9 AM. The road was pretty much the same good road I had after lunch yesterday and the riding was good. There was a lot of traffic, including many big trucks, but I almost always had a shoulder. I averaged l2.2 mph for the first hour, then my average dropped as the wind picked up. By lunch time I was only able to cruise a 10 mph. I had a headwind for the rest of the day. The road follows a river valley to Urziceni, my roughly half way point and lunch stop. The first significant hill was after 25 miles of riding, and hills were never much of a factor today.

There were large wheat and sunflower fields on the way to Urziceni
Note the rideable shoulder

In the middle of the morning, I noted a new looking memorial and stopped to photograph it. Memorials on the roads at places where people were killed is a pretty common practice. The forms of those memorials varies widely. In Tennessee, I came upon a home made cross with the words "Jenny, you won't be fergot." In southern Hungary, I saw a memorial the size of a house, for a teen-aged boy. In Spain I saw one made from bicycle parts. In the Balkans, Bulgaria, and Romania, I have seen hundreds of them. Some are for several people and, of course, some are for small children, but most are for young men.

Yesterday, I rode up to a car parked blocking the shoulder on a rural section of the highway - not an uncommon thing in Romania. there were three young men working on something on the other side of the tree the car was parked next to. As I rode around the car, I wondered if they were involved in some kind of research project. When I got beyond the car, I saw that they were installing a memorial. The looks on their faces implied it was for a friend or a family member.

This a typical, Orthodox Christian memorial for a young man

Another thing that is common in Romania and Bulgaria, is horse drawn vehicles. As I write this, I'm sitting in a room just off a busy four lane highway. I hear lots of cars and trucks roaring by, but I also hear the occasional clip-clop of a horse drawn wagon on that same road. In Romainia, you see lots of horses, and livestock, along the roads as well as horse drawn wagons on the road. I saw several herds of sheep with shepherds this morning and one herd of cows with a cowherd. You'll see that sort of thing even in towns and small cities.

A horse in a pasture

A family in their wagon on Sunday afternoon

In Urziceni, I had a hard time finding a restaurant for lunch. A good lunch is very important to me, so I asked fellow walking with his small son for help. He asked if I spoke French - I don't - and we settled on gestures and his leading me and pointing. Following his directions, I found a group of semi fast food places and stopped at a Pizza place. Only they weren't serving pizza (to early?) so I had to order from a Romanian menu. I picked the second meat thing, having no idea what I would get. I picked the second today because yesterday I picked the first meat thing at a down home restaurant and had a good, 20 Lei, lunch. The second item on this menu was inexpensive - it ended up being a 10 Lei lunch - and delicious. I had noticed that most of the food this place was serving came in bowls. Mine was a bowl of delicious soup with a whole chicken leg in it. It came with a large basket of bread and, with a large beer, made an excellent, inexpensive, lunch.

Two well designs
There were a lot more of the crank kind, but I saw both kinds being used today

In Bulgaria, springs were common and many people, including me, refilled their water bottles at springs. On my ride today, wells were very common - I bet I saw more than 100 wells - and appear to be the water source for most of the people in the area. In the towns, there was typically one, obviously public, well per block. I've seen lots of wells before, but never as what appeared to be the municipal water system. As a bicyclist, it was nice to see all those water sources along my route. Heck, I think I could have ridden todays route with only one water bottle and been in no danger of running out of water. As it was, I carried thee liters and consumed four an a half liters of water plus half a liter of peach drink. The thermometers I saw were reading in the high30s this afternoon.

A lake on 1D this afternoon.

I was on Highway 1D after lunch. I had been on 2A, which is also E60, before lunch. I knew 2A was a good road, but i wasn't sure about 1D. It turned out to be just as good. Although the road was fine and it was only a little hillier than E60, wind much much bigger problem than it had been earlier in the day. There were two reason for that. The first was that the wind was stronger in the afternoon. The second was that long stretches of 1D were in wide open spaces where there was nothing to block the wind.

The wind was a side/head wind, coming across the road at about 45 degrees. as with 2A, there was a lot of big truck traffic on 1D. The wind blasts from some of those trucks would almost stop me in my tracks. When there was a group of them, I had to put my head down and concentrate on staying on the small shoulder. In one, particularly long group of trucks, the last truck, a big, flat sided dump truck, passed a semi as they reached me. I had my head down and was fighting just to stay on the shoulder when that jerk came by a foot away and literally blew me off the pavement. No harm was done. The dirt was hard packed and I wasn't moving very fast, so I just came to a stop on the dirt, cursed the driver, and rode on. It is possible that he didn't see me, but I think it is more likely that he deliberately blew me off the road.

A neat, high speed, train that crossed 1D a mile or two ahead of me, and left the barriers down, blocking the road
You can also see the foothills of Romainia's mountains beyond the train

People from stopped vehicles, walking down the road to the next town

'' As I neared the end of 1D - it joins 1B which joins 1 in Ploiesti - I saw and unexpected sight. Yesterday I photographed a standard Romainian passenger train. Today I saw, and photographer from a distance, what appeared to be a fancy, high speed - not TGV speed but more like an inter city train in Germany - passenger train heading for Buzau. Neat. When I get to the train tracks fifteen minutes later, I discovered that the barriers were still down. I rode around the vehicles, crossed the tracks and was at the end of 1D long before any car or truck traffic got past the barriers.

I turned, into the wind, onto 1B, cranked up a long hill, and saw a simple hotel restaurant. It was no fun on 1B, so I stopped for the night. The only problem I have with that decision now is that the light is going and my room is still hot. It would help if I turned off this hot computer, so I 'm done for tonight,

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