Day 27, Bistrita to Sieu, RO

Where I was riding today

It was another wow! day as I rode into Maramures Judetul which is one of the prettiest, and hilliest, in Romania. I spent most of the day climbing and half of the day climbing one long hill to get to the Maramures border.

Looking down into Maramures from near the border

I got a later start because it turned out that, although the restaurant opened at 7 AM, the kitchen didn't open till 8 AM. I went back to my room and tightened bolts - a few were loose - and cleaned and lubed my bike's chain. When I got back to my room after breakfast, the maid was already cleaning it. I don't understand why, since my bags and bicycle were still in the room. She left and I worked on finishing yesterdays web page without minimal disturbance to the cleaned room. I left about 9:30, heading for Bistrita.

The road to Bistrita continued to be horrible, so I was happy to see the turn off to Nasaud. That road wasn't great, but it was much better. Then that road turned to go into Bistrita and I continued on the bypass. That was a big mistake since the bypass - the truck route - was an even worse road than the road to Bistrita. It was the most direct route to the road to Nasaud, but it almost convinced me to give up on riding in northern Romainia! Fortunately, the road that climbed over the big ridge between Bistrita and Nasaud was pretty decent. That climb was over two miles long with a peak grade of 8% and an average grade of 5%.

Looking back at the top of the first climb

A neat village on the way to Nasaud
But the pavement is lousy

Most of the road to Nasaud looked like this

Nasaud itself was nice

There ride to Nasaud was hilly and pretty, but most of the pavement was bad. I stopped in Nasaud to get bread and some apples, then rode on to Salva where the climb up to Maramures began.

Moisei is about 15 km past the high point, so the climbing lasts for around 40 km
You can see the river, the road, and. if you look above the truck, the railroad in this image

The road follows the river up a beautiful canyon for more than 30 km. The slope varies, but I'd guess the average be around 2.5-3%, which makes the total climb along the river to be about 1500 to 2000 feet. Then there is a steep climb that adds another 500 feet or more. It is a long climb. I stopped at the beginning to snack and roughly in the middle of it to have lunch, and in the steep part to rest and eat an apple.

Bike where I snacked near the bottom


The view of Maramures, and the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine from the Judetul border is stunning, and scary if you're on a bicycle and planning to ride there. However, the really dangerous part is the ride down on a road which is sometimes smooth, but much of the time so bad that you have to focus on braking and dodging potholes! It isn't really steep enough to cause problems if you anticipate the bad road, but it sure would be more fun with good pavement,

When I got down into Sacel, the big town at the bottom of that hill, I started looking for places to stay. It was about 50 km to Sighetu Maramatiei, my nominal destination and I figured I could get there if I had to, but that would be at 8 PM or later. From talking with folks where I ate lunch, I knew the road to the border crossing - it is pedestrian only - was well before Sighetu Maramatiei, so I'd just have to ride 20 km or so back if I did stay there. I also knew that Sighetu Maramatiei was a tourist attraction and that it was Saturday night so I might not be able to find a room.

It took me about 20 km of looking, and stopping at four pensions to ask, but the place I found is quite wonderful. I have my own little cabin no shower but a sink - only cold water - and toilet. My landlady fixed me an excellent traditional meal for supper - three courses - along with a beer, a bottle of water with gas, and pear liquor and will fix me breakfast tomorrow. She asked for 70 Lei for the whole package. I gave her 75. That is about $30. The last time I was here it would have been less than $20.

Tomorrow will - hopefully - go into Ukraine. My host at lunch warned me that "In Ukraine you aren't in Europe any more" and to be very careful when I was there since, as a rich American, I was bound to be a target for skullduggery. I told him that I'd heard the same warning about going to Romainia four years ago and that I'd already been in Ukraine on bicycle. His warning was well intentioned and does have some validity. Ukraine is not Europe, although the western part of Ukraine is much more like Europe than the eastern part, and I will be more careful there, just as I was in Romania four years ago and in Albania - you should hear what the Greeks say about the Albanians! - three years ago.

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