Day 24, Near Ploiesti to Brasov, RO

Mountains on the way to Brasov

It wasn't a bad night. Despite the heat and road noise, I slept pretty well. When I went down for breakfast, at 7, I discovered that the restaurant was closed and I was locked in. I went back to my room, worked a little, packed up and went back down to wait to be able to leave. That happened about 8. It looked like it would be a while before I could get anything to eat, so I headed for Ploiesti.

The ride to the city was much more pleasant than it would have been yesterday. I stopped at a small market to get bread and discovered that I had only a 100 Lei bill left. That was too big, around $40, for the market to accept, but I had enough coin to pay for the bread. When I got nearer to the city, I stopped at a fancy service station/market and bought some, over priced, fancy trail mix in order to have smaller bills that I could use on today's ride.

Heading north from Ploiesti on E60

As I neared Ploiesti, I saw one pace to stay, a nice looking motel restaurant just before the turn for Brasov. Then I made my way, on busy road with bad pavement, around Ploiesti to where highway 1 - also E60 - headed for Brasov. On the way I stopped for breakfast - three very big kielbasa with mustard, bread, and a pickle. I enjoyed my 'breakfast' and it provided plenty of food energy.

E60 was four lanes with good shoulders and the riding was usually easy, if quite noisy, and a bit boring, for the next 20 miles. Then I reached the foothills. That was a major psychological boost! I've been riding on the plains for several days and, although I like plains, mountains are prettier - and these are very pretty mountains - and offer more variety in riding.

A sudden transition from plains to foothills
Looking back from this same spot, the land is flat

The road through the mountains was only slightly hilly for the 10 km, then it began a long, but mostly gentle, climb up a river valley. I stopped for 'lunch' before that climb started. I was riding along, lusting for beer, and figuring that I could have on a the next restaurant. but the next restaurant was closed, so I stopped at a little place that sold beer and sat, in the shade, to drink my beer and eat half of my bread. The half liter of beer cost about $.66 and the bread cost $.25, so lunch was cheap. I really enjoyed it!

I was a little woozy when I got back on the road, but the road still had four lane and a good shoulder so that wasn't a problem. My head was clear by the time the road became two lanes with a mostly rideable shoulder.

When the climbing really began, the shoulder was sometimes not safe to ride. There were deep gutters outside a narrow, often dirty, shoulder which was inside a rumble striped white line.

In this section, the shoulder was still rideable
Later, the gutters had a vertical dropoff and were several feet deep

The road climbed well above the river and I expected a steeper climb to take it over to another river valley. The climb did get steeper - 5% - for a while, but there was never an obvious climb over a ridge. On the steep section, I met a bicycle tourist. I saw a couple on loaded touring bikes shortly after entered Romainia, but they did not look like experienced tourists. This fellow did, and he is Romainian. I think Romainian tourists, even in Romainia, are about as rare as US tourists in Romainia. Romainia is changing rapidly now and this fellow said he expected folks here to start doing recreational bicycling - I saw a few of those of those in Brasov - and touring in the next five years.

The road, with no obvious transition, was up and down for a while and then made a turn into another river valley. The climbing continued but there was a big change in the environment. I was now in tourist/resort/development land. Both the climb and the tourist stuff continued for a long time, through several towns. I stopped in one town to get some money from an ATM so I'd have more options on places to stay and places to eat, but then cranked on up the never ending, but usually gentle, hill.

Train shots along the way

On the first long climb, I saw trains on the gentle part and head a train coming out of a tunnel as I climbed on the steeper part. after descending into the next valley, I head a train coming out of the other end of that tunnel. In the touristy part I saw a train leaving a fancy train station and coming into Brasov I 'raced' a freight train of a long time at about 20 mph. These trains were all electric.

When the long climb finally ended, it did so very dramatically. There was at least 10 km of 'steep' - marked 7% but feeling like 5% - descent complete with lots of hairpin turns and, unfortunately, lots of traffic. It was a bit annoying to have to deal with cars and trucks on the sharp corners, but otherwise an enjoyable descent. After the steep part, the down hill continued all the way to Brasov - were talking 25 km for the start of the downhill - and, after it came out of the tunnel, I paced a freight train all the way into town.

In Brasov, it was a long, long way to the center of town and, after I got near to the center, I couldn't get there. Too many one way roads with up to six lanes of traffic. I spent half an hour finding the center and, in the process, discovered that it was going to be hard to find a room for the night. I decided to go to an internet cafe that I had used before and check my mail - my older daughter flew to Germany yesterday and I wanted to be sure that had gone smoothly - and then head out away from the center looking for an inexpensive place where I stayed four years ago.

It was gone and another inexpensive place near it on the outskirts of Brasov told me they were now booked six months in advance with foreign workers. They suggested I might find a room at one of the smaller hotels on the way into town. I'd already found one room - a huge room, like an apartment - at a pension for 65 E - and I finally found one more room. This one is 45 E, and a fifteen minute walk to the center. The room is large, the bed is comfortable, and I have food for breakfast. Brasov is a neat city, so I think I'll take a rest day here.

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