Day27: Bacau to Focsani, RO: A wind assisted, hot, day riding south in Romania

I've had headwinds every day except today. The result, as expected, was that I went farther and faster, but riding was a lot hotter. I rode about the same distance as I rode yesterday, but did it in two hours less time. Of course the fact that there were fewer hills today contributed to that, but mostly it was because I was riding at least 5 kph faster today than yesterday. Given that the wind was at least 10 kph, I also was riding with 5 kph less wind to cool me down.

I stopped, as planned, at Focsani, despite the fact that I could have gone on for another two hours and about 40 more km. Part of that was that my bad knee was hurting today and I wanted to give it an easy day to help it recover from the last few hard days, and part of it was that I hadn't looked ahead to plan an alternative destination. Usually, I plan on easy, OK, and hard days, but the wind had been so consistent, I just assumed 110 km would be all I could do. Today there were place to stay where I started, right in the middle, and where I ended. Romania has a lot more wide open space than most European countries.In that regard, it feels much more like the western USA.

My day started with a good breakfast at my fancy pension. Waiting for breakfast, I sat in the garden of the restaurant and thought about bad news I had just read about in an email from my wife. She told me about health problems in our friends families back in the States and I thought about life and how lucky my family has been in not having to deal with serious health problems. Good genes and good luck are things that we can't count on, but we should be thankful for.

Neat traffic light feature I haven't seen before
When you are waiting on a red light, it counts down, in seconds in red
When you have the green light, the remaining seconds count down in green
There are separate counters for the turn lane and the straight ahead lane

Traffic and pedestrians in Bacau

Note the empty lane ahead of me
Because slow vehicles, buses, and vehicles that stop to do deliveries
use that lane, most cars avoid it leaving for me!

When I left the pension, I had to ride for almost an hour just to get through Bacua. It is a big city and, while not bad, the urban riding requires a lot of attention. In the Romanian cities I've ridden through this week, four lane roads are used for two lanes of traffic and two lanes of parking/bus lanes/delivery vehicle parking/ etc. This actually provides a pretty good environment for bicycling, but that environment is constantly changing as you ride, Fortunately, bicycles are a normal part of the traffic mix, so the other vehicles are aware of bikes and usually interact politely with them and with pedestrians. Parked vehicles do occasionally block the entire outer lane, Then other vehicles yield to bicycles forced out into the other lane.

D2 out in the country

Sunflowers for Barbara

More sunflowers for Barbara

Combine heading right
tractor pulling a plow heading left over rows just harvested by combine

When I finally got out of town, I discovered a D2 that was much more pleasant to bicycle than the one I rode well north of here. This highway/expressway has two lanes for fast traffic and shoulders that are like narrow lanes and used by slower vehicles. To be more accurate, the shoulder and the fast lanes are used by most vehicles. They often drive right down the line that splits them. When a fast vehicle wants to pass, it pulls over a bit into the other side of the road and vehicles on that side pull over a bit more onto the shoulder. When a faster vehicle encounters a bicycle on the shoulder, it pulls into the fast lane. Occasionally, slow small vehicles would actually pass my bicycle by sharing the shoulder, but that was rare. Generally, I could ride in the outside tire path of vehicles using the shoulder and they would move into the fast lane to pass me.

This kind of driving does require more attention than the just stay in your lane and assume no-one will try to share it with you style in the US, but it works remarkably well and accommodates bicycles quite nicely. There were no slower vehicles than me on D2 today, but there were also occasional stopped vehicles on the shoulder. They would, hopefully, have pulled over enough for me to pass them while still staying on the shoulder. When two large vehicles are passing - there are lots of big trucks on this road - they use the shoulder, the lane, and part of the oncoming lane. You would not, normally have two large trucks passing each other and a bicycle or other slow vehicle. One of the trucks would wait for the other to have passed the slower vehicle before trying to pass the other.

I, mostly very comfortably, rode 100 km of this today. Because of the strong tail/side wind, I was often going 25 - 30 kph or more. It was, compared to US highway riding with a similar amount of traffic, much more pleasant and much less stressful. I did pass by one major accident. I came upon it just as the first ambulance was arriving. I only saw one smashed car, so I assume the other vehicle was a truck. A number of vehicles had stopped, but the road had one lane + a bit left open so non rubbernecking vehicles could still get through. The car was badly smashed - totalled - but it was a recent model car and, so the folks in it probably survived. I have no idea what happened or who was to blame.

My route today was entirely down a single broad river valley. Sometimes I could see the river and usually I could see the hills on one side or the other. The river was always to the east of the road. There were some hills, but no major climbing, and there was a moderate amount of traffic. I stopped once, in the shadow of a small tree right next to the road to fix my peanut butter and nutella sandwiches and eat them and a banana. I was sitting within a foot or two of the road and, other than noise, it was pleasant place to rest.

There was a lot of agriculture production in the valley, with many different crops. I most enjoyed the huge - stretching all the way to the hills - fields of sunflowers and the wheat harvest that was taking place today. Most of the agriculture that I've seen in Romania has been small scale and people intensive. Today's agriculture was more like what you'd see in the central US. Large scale and mechanized. No more Romanain hay stacks and people working with hand tools in the fields. One wheat field was being harvested with two combines and, behind the combines, the stubble was being plowed under right after the wheat was harvested. There were tractors pulling grain wagons as well as semi trailers to haul the grain away.

I stopped for lunch in Ajud, a city at the mid point of today's ride. I ate a large 'terrace' restaruant called the Atlantic. I ordered the 'menu' and which turned out to have three courses: soup with bread, main course with cabbage and grape leaf wrapped meat and and 'maize' which was ground corn, and nice omelet like dessert. I also ordered .5 l of good beer with and good coffee after the meal. It cost 24 ROM which is about $7. All of the food was traditional Romanian and all of it was very good. I stopped about 25 km later for a .5 l pepsi twist and a snickers bar which cost just about as much as they would have in the US.

Lane use If the truck wasn't being passed
it would be riding in the lane and on the shoulder

Even more Sunflowers for Barbara

Another combine

Cool design for high voltage power line supports!

When I got near Focsani, I saw a two star pension. Almost everything around here claims to be three star, so it was kind of refreshing to see a more honest rating. It really isn't much cheaper than last nights three star, but my room in the middle and not on the top floor so it was cooler this afternoon. As the sun got lower, I discovered that this room and its, greenhouse like, balcony did get direct sun and it got uncomfortably warm in here even though I closed the door to the balcony. There was, however, a good side effect. I washed my clothes about 4 PM and, hung out on the balcony, they are dry five hours later.

One of the reasons I stopped here is that D2 doesn't go into Focsani. In the morning, after breakfast. I can just get back on D2. I'm heading south, but D2, in less than 200 km now, goes into Bucharest which is south east. I'm not sure where I'll end up tomorrow, but I heading for Slobovia. I've stayed there before. It is too far for me to reach in a day and D2 doesn't go there, but it is due south from here.