Transfăgărășan, Romania


Ever since I first climbed the north side on a full suspension bike back in 2013 I wanted to try it again on a road bike and to also cover the Southern side. 2 months ago we set the date, and dammit we kept to the plan!

This is where it’s at, the Transfăgărășan

Meeting up at a parking lot in Bucharest we realize that other people we didn’t even know had the same plan and the same meeting point in the morning.

From the meeting points it’s about 2 hours in car to where we will start, which is a dam 55 kilometers from the pass we are aiming for. Some 5 kilometers before arriving, we pass the real Dracula Castle Cetate Poienari up on a very steep cliff overlooking the narrow valley. Dracula, or Vlad Țepeș moved in and repaired it in the 15th century and made it one of his main fortresses. Right on top of the hill:

We arrive at the dam at approx. 900 meters above sea level. The guys on MTBs set off first and I stay with the road bikers.

Off we go!

The artificial Vidraru lake is at a low level this time of the year

We are getting warmed up

After a while we catch up with Stefan, Toni and Cosmin on MTBs

A local guy is preparing breakfast and wish us a good ride

The colors at this time of the year…

Speaking of colors…

ok ok ok, I know I possibly break every single dress code in the detailed road biking book of rules but this is who I am…

We are getting closer to where the steep climb is starting but we have already made lots of climbing

The steep part starts and continues up to approx. 2000 meters of elevation

At that point there is a tunnel that takes you to the northern side but I take a break enjoying the views

Lights on and I make it through the sketchy tunnel to the other side. It’s much colder on the other side and the others haven’t arrived so why not… I start descending some kilometers to enjoy this absolutely fantastic piece of engineering. Ceaușescu built the Transfăgărășan in the early 70-ies. He was stressed by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968 and wanted to ensure a quick military access across the mountains in case the Soviets would come also for him. There already existed some crossings of the mountains but this one would be harder to block.

The extra descent and climb got me warm again, or at least the climb. As one of the guys’ father in law is celebrating his birthday in style, he decided to bike up with his friends from the North and we all met up at the pass by the Bâlea Lake

After soup, cake and some beers we get going again. A married couple gets their pictures taken at the lake

We set off for the descent back to the dam some 55 kilometers away. Out of the tunnel and we can enjoy the ride down

Summing it up it was 118km and 2550 meters of climb and my first real mountain experience on a road bike. A bit sketchy in the corners in the beginning but I got the hang of it and learnt how to lean a lot and still have the grip. Hardcore lycra racing….

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