Day28: Focsina to Urziceni ,RO: Another long, hot, wind assisted, day

I rode about 130 km today, starting out with riding around Focasani and ending where D2 turns east near Urziceni. This morning when I was having breakfast, the Romanian weather person was showing a temperature display of eastern Romania and the headline, my guess at translation, was something about the heat 'suffocating' this part of Romania. When I go to Urziceni at 5ish, a shaded thermometer in a park downtown read 39. That is 100 F. Tonight I'm in an air conditioned room at a hotel. It cost me about $10 more than staying in an un-air conditioned room at a pension. I figure it is worth at least that just to be able to sleep under a sheet rather than naked because the room is too hot. It is my first air conditioned room of this tour.

It was already very hot at 8:30 AM when I left my pension this morning. The wind was still blowing from the north/northeast and riding on D2 was still good as long as I was on the flat or downhill where I could out run the wind and get some cooling. However, there were a lot of long, relatively gentle, uphills where I was reminded of riding across Louisiana in June. Even though I was riding in a moderate amount of much faster vehicle traffic, some of it coming within a foot of my bags this afternoon, I seriously considered riding without my helmet because that would have been cooler. I made the comment here recently that 3 liters of water a day was enough for riding in Europe. It wasn't today. I went through more than 4 liters on the road and drank more than half a liter after I got to my room and before I took a shower. I've gone through another liter and a half since then.

A panorama looking west from D2 just south of Focsani

Looking back at Focsani from D2

Heading south from Focsani on D2

My day was divided into three parts of roughly 40 km - about 25 miles - each. The first part, to R. Sarat, was the easiest, after I got around Focsani. Last night I thought I wouldn't have to deal with Focsani today, but I was wrong. Even though I took the bypass, the first half an hour to 45 minutes was riding in heavy traffic with lights, roundabouts, and multiple lanes. It wasn't fun. As usual, riding was much better once I got out of town.

Two big combines passed me as I was stopped at the side of the road
They took all the lane and all the shoulder on one side of the road
Then the rear one broke down, blocking one half of the road.

Lots of vineyards today and lots of folks selling several kinds of grape juice along the roads

D2 was less scenic today than yesterday. D2 still runs along the edge of the mountains until Buzau, my second routing point, but I didn't see much of them. The land is more rolling so there is more coasting down - cool - and climbing out - hot - of valleys. The last 20 km into Urziceni is flatter. That was good because the tail wind was getting rather flaky down there, coming mostly as a side wind from the east and sometimes just going away. That cut my speed down and made it harder on my bad knee, but I was still managing to stay above 20 kph - ~12 mph - most of the time.

I stopped, at noon, well before Buzau, for lunch and internet. Lunch was beer and a salad. I was too hot to feel like eating heavier food. I ate a nice place which had a restaurant and a hotel in P. Cainau. P. Cainau is not much more than a road intersection. Since I had a small lunch, I had a good supper tonight. I indulged my self and had tripe soup - very good - as my first course - and a good spaghetti dish as my second course. I had one kind - Stella - of imported beer with the soup and another kind - Fosse - which seems to be Croation brewed under a Czech license - with the spaghetti. It was, with tip, 45 Lei, my most expensive meal in Romania. Gosh, that is almost $14.Before I checked in tonight, I wanted to get some more Lei. I tried a Bankomat, but my bank in the US wouldn't accept the transaction. Fortunately it was shortly before 5 PM so the bank was still open and I could change US cash to Lei. I could have used a credit card at this hotel, but then I'd get charged a cash conversion fee. >P> When I got to Buzau, I hadn't decided how to route south from there. I rode into the city and quickly decided I wanted out of there, so I headed east for a while to get away for the city core and then used my GPS to get me back to D2 south of Buzau. While in Buzau, I saw that I really didn't have any other choice for continuing south. I decided to ride the 45 km section of D2 that leads to near Urziceni. That turned out to a bit harder ride than I expected, but I still made pretty good time. I did have a 'one finger' encounter with a big truck. He came by way too close for no reason. That is my second experience of that behavior in Romania. Considering that I have been passed by many thousands of trucks, I'd say that fewer truck drivers here are jerks, compared to truck drivers in the US.

This section of D2 looks like it is in the US
I was happy when it ended
Note the sunflowers

Today, I had two stretches of US like roadway This one is on DH2

Going back to Romanian style road

Back to the Romanian standard expressway

After riding the 'road to the centrum'
This was the way I had to get over the railroad tracks

Getting into Urziceni was another odd experience. There was an exit which said Urziceni Centrum, so I took it. It was over 4 km to the actual town and, after a nice km or two, the road descended to Ukrainian dirt road standards. I could handle that so I kept on cranking doing the pothole slalom. When the road did, sort of, get into town, it was dirt over cobblestone and on the wrong side of half a dozen train tracks, most of which were in unusable condition. There was a lot of action going on at the train station with two short trains apparently getting ready to go. The only way across the tracks was a big overhead passage with stairs which I did not want to do with my heavy bike and sore back or some rough trails across the tracks. I dragged/carried my bike on one of those trails and then rode into town looking for a place to stay. Once I got to the main drag, the town was pretty Romanian normal, but the part of it that road led to was anything but normal.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Slobozia. My only other choice is Bucharest and I'd rather not deal with the traffic there.