WHEN IN ROMANIA…

RAMON, MARC AND LOBO. WE’VE MET THEM BEFORE, BUT THIS TIME THEY’RE IN ROMANIA WHICH MEANS BEARS, MUSHROOMS, PRUNE LIQUEUR AND BIKES. SOUNDS LIKE AN ADVENTURE...

WHEN IN ROMANIA...

by Bike Magazine |

Autumn is coming and it’s been far too long since we went to Morocco (Bike, April 2016) and the balls of that Hammam man dangled from his underwear onto Marc’s back. What happens in a Marrakesh Hammam stays in a Marrakesh Hammam. You could say it’s not the best time for a bike adventure but we are craving a new one: Ramon’s girlfriend is pregnant, I have a three-and-a-half year old and a pregnant wife, and despite Marc not expecting a baby the hunting season is starting and he feels like killing... For our next adventure we have a contact, a Romanian guy living in our small Pyrenean village, in Catalonia (do not get confused with Kefalonia from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin). Avià is Marc Coma’s village, Paris Dakar six times winner and the village of Xavier Sabata, world famous countertenor. And all done with a south European public education system. Not bad.

A van with a trailer turns up. The Romanian driver, getting by on an overdose of Red Bull, drives weekly from Madrid to Cluj-Napoca, Romania, non-stop in a bit more than one day. That’s more than 3500km. Our bikes are loaded onto the van’s trailer and off it goes. The transport is 200 euros, the excitement of betting if they would arrive or not has no price. Two weeks later we take Wizz Air, the airline with the least legroom ever. And yes, the bikes are there when we arrive. Two Africa twins (25 and 22 years old) and a KTM 950 (the traitor sold his Africa Twin). We have a route supplied by the internet. We follow it. But only partially. The first day we head to the mountains – real wild places with bears, wolves and magic mushrooms. We are told the Romanian police have zero tolerance for alcohol and drink riding. So we only get drunk when we are off road. There are not too many bikes in the country and it is still possible to ride anywhere and at anytime, crossing fields and tracks with no restriction. Quite liberating and we feel we are no ecological threat because there are so few bikes...

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Day 1: as usual we want to stop riding before sunset and as usual we don’t. We have a puncture, we are attacked by wild dogs and finally we arrive at the village – our anti-puncture sprays are useless. Thankfully the KTM’s tyre’s so thick it goes for 15km flat and the husband of the village doctor still has serious problems removing the tyre. We go out to drink, celebrating our success with our Romanian friends. Marc drinks two beers and 300cc of home brewed double distilled prune liqueur. He pukes for Romania, after hugging every Romanian we meet.

Day 2: next morning and after snoring like a wild boar he is surprisingly alive. We head towards the Transalpina road, which crosses the Carpathian Mountains. What a road. Even with our Mitas 09 tyres we start going wild. Deliciously twisted we take some off-road trips and we see the best fungi porcini we have ever seen!

Day 3: the Transfagarasan Highway – what another magnificent road, again crossing the Carpathians. We trust the tyres, probably a bit too much and we go fast. We find sheep on the road and fat Germans on fat bikes. Retired and rich moustached Germans riding big and shiny BMWs. We finish in the worst pension in Sibiu, but it’s a town that’s worth visiting. It’s 215km north west of Bucharest. If you’re interested in a trip...

Day 4: inventing our off-road route as we go, we really enjoy crossing fields and woods. Getting lost. But Romania is so full of dirt roads, there’s so much to explore. We got stuck in the mud, in a sort of private hunting area. A shepherd with a radio hanging from his neck cannot believe we were driving our fat bikes in this mud. And we manage to arrive safely in Brasov where there’s Bran Castle, some people think it’s home to Dracula. It isn’t.

Day 5: a boring road around Brasov (do not take main roads in Romania) and we arrive somewhere. We look at our internet route, but there is a barrier in our way. But nobody is there to open it. What shall we do? We go. Shit. We are doing the track the other way around Ramon says. It’s a track for extreme four-wheel drive adventure that took the authors ten hours to do 20km. On the top of the mountain there is a rich man’s house with a helicopter. We are in a private hunting area and think they may shoot intruders. The woods are taking over the little lane and things get very complicated. We run, and run. Like children who stole cherries. Until we stop and we go for wild mushrooms instead. We find fungi porcini that we plan to cook for dinner later. Marc wraps them in a cloth that ends up twisted around his chain. We lose the track and are going down steep tiny lanes with very big stones. We fall quite often. But we fall quite well. Like cats, fat cats. Except when our feet touch the side of the narrow canal and they turn backwards like the Exorcist girl. No R1200GS would ever never make it. Too tight. Sorry BMW riders, but you will always have the roads. We arrive at a bastion of the independentist, Skelly, Romania. We feel very welcome despite the bed bugs.

GOOD IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO SLEEP, NOT GREAT IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GET TO THE NEXT TOWN

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