Saturday, August 10, 2013

Supported / Unsupported Rides

There are many ways to tour with a bike. Some folks add saddlebags to their bikes, grab a map and head off on a trip. This type of touring is called unsupported. If anything happens on the road, you’re on your own. Most people that tour unsupported enjoys the flexibility and price that this type of tour allows.

I prefer a supported ride where a company carries your bags, provides your meals and handles the routing of the trip. The trips can be reasonable on a day to day basis, but the reason I like this type of touring is that all you have to do is get on the bike and ride. Everything else is pretty much taken care of. Today, my trusty bike developed a small ticking sound down in the pedal assembly called the bottom bracket. I had it rebuilt last summer (about 5000 miles ago). A bad bearing in the bottom bracket could pretty much leave you stuck on the side of the road. I brought it into camp and had our bike mechanic Peter look at it. He dissembled the assembly and re-tightened everything, fixing the problem.

That’s what I mean by support. If I was on a self supported tour, I would have to find a bike shop and visit them when they are open (I wonder how many shops are open on a Saturday evening?) and hope that they had a qualified mechanic that could fix it right then.

Well that it for now, Happy Biking,


Fortified Church

We left the campground and retracted the path that we took yesterday, which meant an immediate climb of 4 km before descending into Medias then catching the road to Agnita. Generally it was a pleasant ride with nice views.

The local attractions were limited today. We did stop at a “fortified church” in Biertan. These facilities were built in the 1300’s by imported labor from Germany, called “Saxons”. The church is undergoing renovation, but at a very slow pace.

We stopped in the town of Agnita before lunch. Where in countries like Germany and Austria, it seemed that each village was quaint with cobble stone town centers, this is not the case with Romania. The towns reminded me of run down villages that you might find in Mexico with many improvement projects (water, sewers, roads, etc.) started but no oblivious signs of completion in the near future. Most of the projects look abandoned ½ through. We grabbed a pasty and coke before heading on to lunch.

Following lunch the asphalt road turned to gravel for about 12 km, it was the first time on this trip that I wish that I had a mountain bike with fat tires rather than my road bike with skinny tires. But we trundled on bouncing over the gravel and trying to avoid the pot holes.

With a couple of miles to before the campsite, the Carpathian mountain range came into view. Tomorrow we’re going to climb them and we’re all looking forward to the challenge.

That’s it for now, Happy Riding


Friday, August 9, 2013

A wonderful day

Wonderful day, but busy traffic leaving town for the first 9 km. Felt like we were caught in the early morning rush hour traffic. After 9 km we turned off on a more quiet secondary road where we still encountered trucks and cars, but at least with less frequency.

The scenery while we were on the secondary roads was pretty nice with fields laid out in front of us and rolling mountains in the background. The small cities were difficult to navigate with traffic darting out in front of us and cutting us off every which way.

We also hit a lot of road construction that was very dicey for the us on the bikes. We found a picturesque town square ringed with cafes where we had coffee and Cokes.

We arrived at the campground about 2PM where we found most of the other riders in the swimming pool cooling off from the hot day. The rest of the day was spent in and out of the pool and lounging in the shade by the trees and napping in the hammock. Just a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

That’s it for now,



Thursday, August 8, 2013


I've been getting some questions regrading the type of tires that I'm running on the bike and how many flats I've gotten so far.

As you may know, we've been traveling over some rough roads and many times on gravel for long distances. The tour company recommended a minimum of 35 mm tires. 35 mm refers to the width of the tire. The configuration of my bike limits me to 25 mm maximum, so it was either buy a new bike or take a risk and run it with the widest tires possible. I chose to risk it.

My bike shop recommenced Maxxis RE-FUSE 700x25C so I bought 3 tires. The rear tire needed to be replaced any way, so installed it and that was 1,800 miles ago. Despite the rough riding, the tires still are in pretty good shape. I think that they will complete the tour.

On the front I have a 700x23 Continental GatorSkin tire. I installed it while touring last summer. Despite having about 2,500 miles at the time, the tire still looked great so I didn't replace it, but I threw the two remaining Maxxis RE-FUSE tires into my bags just in case I need them while on tour.

My guess is that I'll be returning home without needing to change the tires, but we'll see. I need to complete 8 more days in Romania, 7 days in Bulgaria and 3 in Turkey (about 750 miles).

Happy Biking,


There is much anticipation about a ride in a couple of days (Sunday Aug 11th). The ride will be up winding road called the "Transfagarasan Highway" which Top Gear has dubbed; "The Best Road in the World".

Of course they drove on the road with super sports cars and we'll be peddling up it with our bikes, but it will be a challenge and possibly the most difficult road that I have ever biked. I just can't wait.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Where in the heck is Alba Iulia?

Today was a day to start getting back into climbing shape. Wonderful cool start. About 60 degrees F to begin with and staying below 70 until 2 1/2 hours into the ride. Almost all the climbing was done under perfect conditions. The total feet gained was almost 4000 feet. The midpoint of the ride was also the top of the climb and where the lunch stop was.

After lunch it was a great swooping downhill with hairpin switchbacks in tree covered roads. The road surface varied greatly from smooth, almost new asphalt, to bone shaking pothole pitted beat up road.

As we descended into Alba Iulia the temperature had heated up and we were facing headwinds, but after awhile we were to our hotel. A very nice place. Tomorrow we'll explore the town a bit.

Happy Biking,


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bopping into Brad

With entry into Romanian the timezone changed by an hour so we needed wake up an hour earlier. It was nice and cool this morning with many of the riders wearing jackets. After the past several days of fighting the traffic and the winds, the quiet winding roads with ascending rolling grades was invigorating.

Thirty km was the coffee stop before lunch. A small cafe with a general store attached. We lingered a bit longer that usual, having a second cup as other riders joins us and we devoured snacks from the general store.

As you can tell from reading this blog, we have a pretty simple daily routine; get up and have breakfast; bike some and have coffee and snacks; bike to lunch; have more afternoon snacks; arrive in camp; shower up and look for ice cream and something cold to drink. Not a bad way of spending a vacation as we travel through wonderful communities and experience wonderful views and interact on a personal basis with the local folks.  I think that biking really allows us to be a bit closer to experiencing a country more than just about any other way short of walking.

Well gotta go. It's getting late and we have one more day of riding before a rest day on the 8th.

Happy Biking,


Hungary to Romaina

It was a short hop from our campgrounds to the Hungary boarder with Romaina. It was the first time on this trip that we had a boarder crossing that guards were present. We needed out passports to enter.

Once past the crossing we were placed on a very busy two lane road that had large trucks rushing past us at 60 MPH+ only inches away. The slipstream had us alternately sucked toward the trucks, then pushed away as they sped by us. If the trucks weren't pushing us around, the head and crosswinds were. So you can say that our introduction to Romania was not the most welcoming.

About 30 Km into the ride we pulled into a small town that was able to change the Hungarian money into Romanian money and also had an ATM to get fresh Romanian money. We also had a cup of coffee before heading off on a more quiet road to lunch which was at the 61 Km mark.

Since the day was less than 100 Km, that placed us at past the ½ way mark.

As the day progressed we ran into many small towns, some with small cafes some without. We also came across several horse drawn farm carts as you will see in the photos below. Kinda surprising to see horses still being used in this fashion.

We pulled into a cafe about 12 km from the end for some cokes just to cool off before finishing up the ride. It had started to get pretty warm and the cool drinks went down pretty quickly.

Tonight's stop is at a motel where we're camping on the back lawn near the brook and not too far away from the chickens and pigs. A pretty nice setup anyway.

That's about it for today. Happy Biking,


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hot with Head Winds

The temperature has been creeping up the past couple of days. Check the Garmin plot below to see the temperature over the course of the day. The winds that have been so friendly the past couple of days has turned a bit unfriendly today with headwinds and crosswinds much of the day, slowing our cruising speed down to 15 MPH from 17-18 MPH that we were were traveling recently.

The road conditions were mixed as well. With some wonderful smooth conditions and some roads terribly broken up with the bikes jumping from pot hole to pot hole.

But we arrived OK, and the campground has WiFi, showers and shade, very nice.

We'll gotta go, Happy Biking,