This is the one we’ve all been waiting for… The TransAlpina route! Catching up with Doug, his travels have taken him through some breath-taking places; but this one… this one is extra special.
Let Doug take you through his journey:
“I’m in Saliste around 30km’s east of the start of the Transalpina at Sebes. I’m at a family run camp, which is more accurately described as a large back garden, for 2 nights. The panniers are coming off today. I am running north to south.
I give ‘Kiki Bo’ a thorough inspection, feeling the brakes, shining a light down to inspect the pads, check tyre pressures and overall condition, feel for anything that might be working loose. I check the chain tension and top up the Scotoiler, wiping away the inevitable spill.
Taking a gentle back-road run to Petresti a little south of Sebes, I stop by the roadside and prepare. Helmet cam on: check, REALRIDER® on: check, water bottle: check.
LET’S DO THIS!
The road south begins with some basic sweeping bends as it follows the river Sebes. I pass through tiny hamlets, with no more than a handful of houses, small farm holdings and a light sprinkling of pine trees either side. As the hills either side narrow and I channel the road, I meet oncoming riders, all of whom wave enthusiastically. I’m also passed by a rider on what I think is a Honda CBR600 – in full power ranger attire. He kicks his leg out and starts engine braking into a bend, he then gives me a throttle hand thumbs up. He MUST be local.
The road starts to get steeper and the bends a little tighter as the hills either side begin to close in. It’s not a gorge, but the incline on the hills either side of the road are quite severe. The road surface is great, good grip, next to no debris and I have confidence in my tyres – I begin to open up a little. In a matter of seconds, I am up behind a tour bus and a campervan. GREAT! I do hope this will not be a regular occurrence as passing places are becoming fewer. I don’t really want to take any risks so I sit back and wait for my opportunity. I love that the Kawasaki z1000sx has an abundance of torque in all gears, and when I spot my opportunity I float past the offending vehicles without the bike breaking a sweat.
I’m now well into the forest and the road is a mixture of switchbacks and short sweeps as we gain altitude and hit the northern edges of our first lake. I am passed by a couple of German bikers on a BMW GS, we’ll meet again I think.
I stop for a break, and who should pull up behind me, the Germans … how the hell I overtook them I have no idea, they must have stopped and I didn’t see.
I wave my acknowledgement to the Germans and set off once again. We’re now at an altitude where the trees are thinning, and once past the second lake (which is rather stunning) the trees begin to disappear. We are still climbing, into a treeless landscape of exposed rock. The road is more exposed up here and with a little wind to contend with, as well as severe switchbacks, it takes me a couple of goes to get a hang of it. Wide in, hard turn, power out till the next. These are fun.
The road starts to level a little and I can see in the distance the plateau. I’m told it’s the highest point on the Transalpina. However, it’s not. A little further on there is another 500 meters or so to climb, but this is where I stop at a local market. I double take and look… the Germans are sitting at a table; bikes cooling whilst eating some fascinating curly bread.
I get the chance to talk to them this time. The bread, which they share with me, is fantastic. It has a thin strip coated in brown sugar on one side, wrapped around a log and toasted next to an open fire. Wow! We sit and chat for a while.
I leave another calling card and move on.
As I ascend to the top it gets very cold, I’m either in the clouds, or there is a mist on the mountain. Visibility is next to nothing… slowly does it.
Now its time to head down. The switchbacks on the descent appear to be more severe for the first few km’s, real 1st and 2nd gear crawls, they don’t let up and are becoming relentless. I am not carrying panniers or a bag this time, but I can feel the momentum of the bike. This is a steep descent. Perhaps I should have run south to north?
I had originally planned to attempt to do both the Transalpina and the Transfagarasan in one day but I now realise this is not going to be possible. I had underestimated the real distances between the two and I had not left base early enough.
I stop in Novaci and reassess my plans. It’s around 3pm and technically I could pull it off, but the ride has been tiring so I choose to call it quits and settle down for the night. I turn east and head for the main road north back to Sibiu. This portion of the ride is 3 hours of slow frustrating travel. It’s a shame, it’s actually quite a scenic route but with the slow moving lorries and frequent roadworks, it’s making the journey back an absolute chore.
I arrive back at camp around 7pm – time for some rest!”
Check out Doug’s trip so far on the map below. Click on the markers to view his photos.