After tackling the Transalpina, Doug’s next move was the challenging Transfagarasan – one of the most spectacular roads in the world.
Let’s see how he found it.
“This is the one I’ve been excited about, this is the one you read about, and we’ve all seen that episode of Top Gear.
I need to head back towards Sibiu, and then another 25km or so to find the turn off for the Transfagarasan. It’s not well sign posted despite its recent infamy. All that marks the northern start of the road is a signpost pointing to Curtea de Arges and Pitesti (not to be confused with Petresti).
I turn off to be presented with an almost arrow straight road that fades into the base of the mountains. Is this the correct road? I double check. Yup.
For what feels like hours, but in reality is closer to 15 minutes there is barely a turn or twist in the road, the mountains don’t seem to get any closer.
And suddenly it begins…
You don’t quite notice it but as you turn into a bend you’re in forest, the incline steepens and you are slowing for a sharp bend. You get a little throttle blast before having to slow again for another sharp bend, and another, then a throttle blast. The incline is steep and unfortunately the traffic is heavier than yesterday.
You really don’t notice it at first, but you are climbing rapidly, the road is steep and the turns are severe. And before you know it you look back and see this. Damn.
Then you are facing this.
This part of the road is where it really takes on its reputation. It’s one alpine switchback after another, some of which are really tough to get around. Wide in, hard turn, power out.
This is a cracking 40 minutes, but before long I have reached the peak. I’ve just ridden this ….
I stop at the summit to take a rest. I climb a little hill to get a couple of photos. I was not expecting to be at this point on the Transfagarasan so early into the ride. The famous photo op is very near the northern start of the 7c.
I move on and have a cracking descent, but as soon as I hit the treeline the road takes a turn for the worse. There is lots of gravel and sand on the corners, the resurfacing has been poor and I am forced to reduce speed.
I’ve got near 80km of this to do and it doesn’t let up at all.
In all honesty the southern stretches of the Transfagarasan are very much like the forest stretches of the Transalpina. I reach the dam at the bottom of the Lake Vidraru.
I’m a little relieved that this portion of the ride is over, it is now time to get myself to Bucharest. I stop in Pitesti, pulling into Lidl carpark to take on water and check the satnav. A few minutes later a Polish biker and his wife pull in on a large sparkling white Harley Roadking. As his wife disappears into the store he comes over for a chat. He has also had a bit of a tough day. The bike is hired as his wife wanted to accompany him on this trip, he normally rides a sports bike, and he tells me this is entirely the wrong bike for Transfagarasan. Far too heavy and lumbering. As he tells me this I wonder how the large group of Harley riders I passed running south to north are getting on.
He and his wife leave and I set of for Bucharest, perhaps an hour away. My camp for the evening has a bad reputation so I have half an eye open on a hotel for the evening. Nearing camp, I notice a large police presence and road diversions. At first I think ‘accident’ as the Romanians have got to be the absolute worst drivers I’ve encountered so far. Aggressive, risk-taking, inattentive and always have a phone pressed to their ear.
I was wrong… I spot a group of what appears to be US Navy officers in their dress whites, and a little further on, a queue of people all dressed in their best tuxes and frocks patiently waiting to pass through a security check. Someone important must be in town.
I reach camp and I’m immediately treated badly. The staff member is rude, he refuses to let me see the facilities and tries to charge me a late booking surcharge of 50% despite the place appearing empty, I move on. I find an Ibis a few Km’s away and this is much better. Although a little concerned that the carpark is on the main road and my bike will be in full view, every lock I am carrying gets deployed and it’s the first time I’ve actually used any lock since leaving the UK. I also slip the security guard a little cash later in the evening on the advice of the barman.
As I’m sitting on the terrace later in the evening I can’t figure out why people around me are singing. I ask a passing waiter. These are apparently all finalists of Romania’s version of The Voice or Romanian Talent or some such. If these are the finalists I’d hate to hear those that didn’t make it.
So would I do the Transfagarasan again? Certainly the top third, I would do that then turn around and do it in reverse, but the rest no. There is better scenery, riding and road conditions on the Transalpina.”
All in all, it appears Doug enjoyed the Transalpina more; but as we always say ‘each to their own’. Have you ridden both of these roads? Which one did you prefer? Tell us of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.