Today was, among other things, Stork day
Here moma is taking off as junior watches
I saw four stork nests in two towns with at least six adult storks and six babies
These are the first storks I've seen on this tour
It was another interesting, and event full, day. I got caught in a deluge, rescued by a trucker, met some neophyte tourists and helped them with routing suggestions, met some Romaninan teenagers with a bike problem and fixed the problem, and, after thinking how ironic it was that Romainian roads were the best roads on this tour, found my self back on terrible Romainian roads.
The village next to my motel
I think everyone there uses wagons for transportation, I didn't see a single car in the village
My morning started with a good breakfast - not included in the room cost - after a pretty good nights sleep. I left my window wide open, for cool air, until 3:30 AM when I closed it. It was really noisy with the window open and I slept well. It was quiet with the window closed, and I didn't sleep as well. Breakfast was available whenever - the place is open 24 hours a day - but I ate about 7:30 and left around nine after finishing yesterday's web page.
The road was flat for about ten miles and three villages - these villages were very different with the first being very traditional and the last being very modern - and then the road climbed over a big ridge and descend into another valley. The climb was about a mile at 5 to 7% or several hundred meters vertical. Unlike yesterday, the descents today seemed much shorter than the climbs, but the descent was long enough, at 30 mph, to give my tired legs time to rest.
The second climb was not as long as the first
The second valley ended after another ten miles at a town where I spotted a market - not marked - and got bananas, bread, and yogurt. Then the road climbed over another ridge - in this case the valley I was riding in intersected another valley at 90 degrees. There were similar towns spaced five or ten km apart along that valley, and Targu Mures, the big city in these parts, was on the other side of the ridge.
Targu Mures was stressful to ride through. It went on for long time with very urban riding in heavy traffic. The road to Reghin and Bistrita was at the other end of the city from the road to Sighisora. The center of Targu Mures, which was at the road to Reghin end, was quite neat, but riding through it was tricky and slow. After escaping from Targu Mures, I stopped at a fancy service station for a rest/stress break and a snack, which, for the first time on this tour, included a caffienated beverage, and then headed for Reghin.
About ten miles from Targu Mures, this was the view ahead
30 seconds later, the storm hit. Those trees are where I took shelter
There were big storms to the west of my route and I kept hoping they were moving west. Then I noted that sky ahead was really roiling and, just after that, rain and wind crossed the road from the west. I pulled over into a parking area and leaned my bike against a tree as I struggled to get the rear rain covers on. A local truck pulled into the area beyond me and yelled and motioned to me to get my bike into the rain and wind shadow of the truck. The rain and wind was intense now, so I ran pushing the bike up to tree next to truck. Then he yelled something I couldn't understand, and when I yelled back "English" he switched to gestures which I understood: "Get you ass into the crew compartment on the truck and leave the bike!"
I got the second rain cover on enough to give some protection and climbed into the crew compartment behind the cab as all hell broke lose in the storm. Visibility was down to about ten feet and the wind was so strong it was flattening the wheat in the field behind the tree my bike was leaning against. I was wet, but not soaked through as I would have been in 30 seconds if I had still been out in the rain. We waited for almost half an hour for the rain to abate, and then, when I got out of the crew compartment and knocked on the cab door to thank the driver for sheltering me, he suggested we load the bike in the crew compartment and took me ten miles to Reghin.
In Reghin, I stopped at the first available place, a fancy service station, to clean up, warm up, and get something to eat. Then I rode on towards Bistrita. Once I got to the main east-west street in Reghin, I was riding where I rode the first time I was in Romainia. I stayed in Reghin one night - that was where I had my first tripe soup which is a regional delicacy - and rode to Dej the next day. Riding to Dej from Reghin, like riding to Bistrita, means riding out of town on the main highway a few miles to the east and then taking a smaller road north about 50 km to another main highway. I had fond memories of that smaller road and was looking forward to riding it again. Reghin, like everything else in Romainia, had changed a lot, but that smaller road was pretty much the same.
As I road west fro Reghin, I saw three people on loaded bikes ahead of me. They didn't look like the Romainian fellow I'd met on my way to Brasov, but rather like the girl I met on my first visit to Poland. The loading was improvised, the bikes were old road bikes, and the three riders were wearing street clothes including hats with brims for sun and rain protection. I was still wearing my rain jacket which I put it on, for warmth, after the truck driver left me and my bike at the city limits of Reghin. It was - after climbing through Reghin, finally warmed up again. I stopped to take it off and the tree riders stopped ahead of me while one of them adjusted something on his bike. After putting away my rain jacket, I rode up and said hello.
These cyclists were hitch-hikers who had decided to try cycling instead. The guy who I spoke with was Spanish. They two women he was riding with were not and at least one of them sounded like she was from the US. They had come from India to Romania and were heading for France. He and I visited for quite while and the women rode on ahead. They were routing to Satu Mare, planning to go into Hungary from there. I suggested the routing I had used to do that in 2004, and he was interested, but the turn to go north was only a little further on and the women had already ridden well past it on their way to Cluj. The Spanish fellow and I parted as I headed north an he continued east. Later, I realized that my route was not a good route for them since it had several big climbs and they didn't have low gearing.
When I was photographing these hills in 2004, a fellow in a wagon stopped and, I think, offered me food and a place to stay
I was too chicken to throw my bike into his wagon and take him up on it
Now I would go with him.
A few km up the smaller road - 15A - I me three, highschool aged, Romainians. As I approached them. I thought it was odd that two them, a girl and a boy were on one side of the road and the third, a girl, was on the other. They were all walking their bikes. The girl on my side spoke to me, so I stopped and asked if they spoke English. They did, an she said, we have a problem. Can you help us?
The problem tuned out to be that the boys chain had come off his (4 -speed!) freewheel and jammed against the bolts that held the fenders and rear racks on. I parked my bike, dug out my Leatherman tool, backed out the bolts and helped the boy get the chain unjammed. We talked a bit about Romainia and how it was changing, they thanked me for my help and I rode off pleased that I had done a little to return some of the kindness I have experienced here. That is only the third time I've used a tool on this tour. The first time was to tighten the bolts on one of my waterbottle cages as I was leaving Budapest! The second tie was to change the seat angle in Subotica. I have also used my pump twice. Once to add air to the front tire and once to the back tire. I also lubed the chain twice, but that doesn't take any tools.
The majority of 15A had decent pavement but there were many km of bad pavement
In the middle of 15A, just past the really bad pavement, I stopped for a break. When I was about to start up again, two wagons, each pulled by one horse and with a 'horse in training' walking alongside the working horse, came down the hill toward me. Romainians start with colts that are tied to the back of the wagon to get used to traffic and then have the horse in training walk alongside the working horse to learn the ropes. It seems to work very well.
I enjoyed riding 15A again, although that one section of really bad pavement made me question why I was riding it. I saw another storks nest in the neat town in the middle of this section. At the end of 15A there is a long climb with a marked 9% grade. I rode up thinking it would be 7% or less, but it really was 9%. I remembered a climb at the end, but I didn't remember that it was that steep!
When I got to the main highway, 17, I expected good pavement. The pavement on 10 km left to get to Bistrita was horrible. Traffic was heavy and I sometime had to ride on the dirt and gravel shoulder to let big trucks by. The should was, in same ways, smoother than the road. I stopped at the first Motel - it was on the other side of the road and it took me several minutes to cross the road because of the heavy traffic. It nice, inexpensive and, in a don't ask - don't tell action, I brought my bike up to my room for the night. I tightened bolts and lubed the chain this morning.