The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part II

The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part II

Part I is here >>

CP 2 - Monte Grappa

The morning after arriving at CP 1, I woke up as if I was hit by a bus. Last night's push to do the parcour on an empty stomach and the fact that I fell asleep hungry didn't help either. Sleeping was also bad again because of the cold. Since I packed a bivy bag and air mat but not a sleeping bag, I ended up sleeping with all my clothes on every night.

As I was slowly waking up, I started to notice the diverse bunch that was taking shelter at the CP. People had arrived all through the night and also in first hours of the morning. We all had a small sense of accomplishment by getting the first stamp but we were also humbled by the realization that we are just 600 k's into a 4.000 k's race. I don't why but that thought just made me laugh out loud. By now, although only three days in, I found it normal to talk to myself loudly, to laugh or to swear out of the sudden. Nope, nothing strange there...

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My plan for the day was to cycle to Austria and sleep at the base of the Alps before making my way to Italy the following day. I knew that, considering my sleeping gear, I should definitely find a hotel for that night, otherwise I'd be freezing outside. The day went on absolutely miserably. I couldn't find my pace at all and I was constantly hungry. I managed to enter Austria in the evening and the welcome was as bad I as expected it to be: windy & cold. I went to the first McDonalds I could find and ordered basically everything they had. My mental status was one of relaxation because I knew that I would sleep in a hotel and, as the temperature was dropping, I was happy to do so. But wait...The idiotic thing I did was that I didn't take the time during the day to book any accommodation. Now, at 10 pm, I found myself realizing that...guess what...in this tiny city in Austria, there weren't any places available. My morale just fell through the roof at the thought that I would need to sleep outside again. After spending more than 30 minutes on research, I summoned up all my courage and went outside. Yep, still windy, even colder. What happened in the next hour is something that you could call "the desperate hunt for shelter"! I turned the small city upside down looking for a shelter, clothes, blankets, something to keep me warm. Nothing! Around 12 pm I realized that it's just useless - I either start cycling through the night or, just as well, go to sleep out there. I went into survival mode. I managed to find a secluded place and, after putting all my clothes again, I went to sleep. I woke up several times shivering and I had to massage myself to sleep every time. It was horrible...

As I woke up at 5, my Garmin was showing a temperature of 8 degrees C. I couldn't wait to start pedaling. My first stop was five minutes away in a life saving petrol station, for a hot coffee and a sandwich. I kid you not: I was hugging the coffee cup, crying and laughing at the same time. I was slowly realizing what it would take to get to the end of this race. New limits, here I come!

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My plan for the day was to cycle all the way to Bolzen in Italy via Reschen Pass. That would put me 160 k's away from CP 2. What an amazing day this was. I left the somewhat boring hills and plains of Germany behind and now I was cycling through these amazing valleys in the Alps. The vegetation was green and lush, water was plentiful and the most important thing, the sun was up and it was so nice and warm. The top of the Reschen Pass is one my favorite places in this whole race. After a grueling, long climb, arriving at top, with the turquoise lake and the 4.000 meters snow covered peaks in the distance, was just as arriving in paradise. I stopped to eat a pizza at the first pizzeria in Italy - literally it was in the first 50 m into Italy. While eating that pizza, I also booked the hotel in Bolzano. He-he, learned my lesson! :) The road down to Bolzano was epic - all downhill on bike paths trough the vineyards. Oh man, the first night at the hotel, after a hot shower and a cold beer, was a life saver. Only topped by the buffet breakfast in the following morning that I absolutely destroyed. Must have eaten 1.500 kcal at least :D

On that day, August 2nd, at 5 pm, CP 2 was going to close. I felt I had enough time to pedal the 160 k's as long as I wasn't going to waste any time. The cycling for the day went incredibly smooth and I reached CP 2 with 2 hours to spare. The only things that kind of slowed me down was the heat. Little did I know that it would only be the start of it. The atmosphere was extraordinarily lively at the check point. I also felt good and my morale was high. After four day into the race, I was getting the hang of it and I felt I was being more in control of the race. After I got the much desired stamp, I joined other TCR participants that we're waiting for the heat to go down a bit so that we could attack the Monte Grappa climb. We chatted for an hour or so about our adventures so far. Their stories of grit and resilience were amazing. I had the realization that everyone was suffering at some level. Just like me. We were all pushing our limits. I suddenly stopped feeling alone in this crazy challenge and I felt I'm apart of the amazing TCR community. I wasn't just the outsider anymore, the rookie that was dreaming to do this race one year ago. I was doing it! I left for the Monte Grappa climb all pumped up...

>> Distance from start: 1.200 km. Duration: 4 days 17 hours.

(to be continued)

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The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part I

The Transcontinental Race 2017 Journal #TCRNO5 - Part I

At the beginning of this year, as I was accepted to take part in the #TCRNO5, my feelings were of excitement and panic, in equal amounts. Now, after successfully finishing the race, as I look back at that moment in January, I feel that I'm different person. I have no idea how the Silviu Martin from January had the guts to do this race now that I know what I've been through and what it took to finish this beast of a race.

When does the Transfagarasan Highway open?

When does the Transfagarasan Highway open?

Since we're running cycling tours on the Transfagarasan here at Martin Adventures, I'm really interested in finding out when does it open and, of course, close. The Transfagarasan has its own functioning rules that state when this road is operational every year.

The Transfagarasan Highway closes every year on October 31st. According to the sames rules, the Transfagarasan Highway opens again on July 1st.

Is the whole Transfagarasan Highway closed?

No. The Transfagarasan Highway is 90 km long and out of that, only 25 km are closed every Winter until Summer. Check the explanation below.

OPEN between Bascov (km. 0) and Piscu Negru (km. 104)

CLOSED between Piscu Negru (km. 104) and Bâlea Cascadă (km. 130+800)

OPEN between Cabana Bâlea Cascadă (km. 130,8) and DN 1 (km.152)

Why is the Transfagarasan Highway closed seven months a year?

That's a great question. Of course there are other roads in Europe and in the World that are higher than the Transfagarasan (2.100 meters) that don't need to be closed. The reason is that the Transfagarasan is not safe in winter. Basically, there aren't enough snow and avalanche protection systems and it would be dangerous to attempt driving the road during winter.

Does the Transfagarasan ever open earlier?

Yes. And there are two sides of this answer.

First, the official one. There are cases when the snow melts before the 1st of July so the authorities start preparing the road when they have this opportunity. After this, they make an on-site inspection and decide to officially open the road earlier then July 1st.

And second, the unofficial one. Now, of course, the locals, who are interested in using the pass as early as possible, try to get to the other side even when the road is not yet officially opened by the authorities but it's still usable because well, the snow melted.

To sum up, technically, you could drive, cycle or walk on the Transfagarasan before 1st of July in two cases:

  • the authorities decide to open it before the standard opening time
  • on your own risk if the road is usable

Who decides when to open and close the road?

That's the mission of The Road Infrastructure Management National Company. They actually have an English website with some useful information.

How will I now when the road opens?

You could always follow Martin Adventures on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter and will let you know.

Check the real time updates on the Transfagarasan Forum.

Got more questions about the Transfagarasan Highway? Let me know in the comments below.

How was on my first cycling camp in Tenerife

How was on my first cycling camp in Tenerife

I recently just came back from the first ever Martin Adventures cycling camp in Tenerife and it was just A-MAZ-ING! Before I get into all the details, I can tell you that we'll be surely doing more of these off-season cycling camps in Tenerife. :) 

I stayed for ten days on "the island of eternal Spring" and I must say, the island did live up to its name: the weather was marvelous by any standards. Even though the middle part of the tour was under the influence of the calima (a dry and hot wind blowing from the Sahara Desert), the weather was still good for cycling.

We were stationed in the southern part of the Island, in a small village, called Arona, that is lying conveniently on the road to Mt. Teide. One the highlights of the trip was actually climbing Mount Teide (3.718 m), the highest mountain in Spain and still an active volcano. I was lucky enough to do the climb twice. The first time I started at sea level and the second time from Arona (600 meters) (Strava Ride 1, Strava Ride 2)

We also explored some of the popular areas in the South, such as the Los Cristianos & Las America beaches, Los Gigantes, Masca village. I also had the chance to visit  the north of the island, around Taganana beach and then further East to Santa Cruz, which is the capital city of Tenerife.

I'll leave you with some photos of the tour and a video of the descent from Mt. Teide to Vilaflor.

Also check out a video of me descending from Mt. Teide to Vilaflor. That was an epic sensation! :)

Shot during our cycling camp in Tenerife, March 2017.

https://www.martin-adventures.com/tenerife-camp/

How to plan & achieve your cycling goals

How to plan & achieve your cycling goals

First of all, let me just start by stating something obvious: It's really useful to set goals in life.

And I'm not just talking about cycling. I've heard from other people there's more to life than cycling. :P It's been proven scientifically that if you have goals and if you work towards them every day, you tend to achieve them. And that makes you happy. See? It's not rocket science. The best news is that setting and striving for a goal, even if you don't make it, will make you happier.

Ok, since I hope I convinced you to start setting cycling goals, let me tell you how I do it.

I start by dreaming

Before I get into a specific goal, I basically day dream for a while, trying to imagine some thing: a destination, a challenge, a route or a competition, that would motivate me to want to do it. I try not to limit myself in ways that are dependent of time, money, equipment or any other down to Earth reasons. For example, for this year I totally wanted to go on an incredible bike adventure on my own. I didn't know when or where but I wanted something challenging. I was feeling that in the past couple of years I haven't been so adventurous and I needed some more adventure in my life. A couple of weeks later, I found out about TCR and I instantly felt I wanted to do it. In the same instant, a dozen reasons came into my mind about why this is too crazy: no experience, no time, not enough money, equipment and other bla bla.

I set goals that scare me

There's no point in setting goals that are comfortable and easy to achieve, that won't give you a major adrenaline kick at the end. If you're already doing 100 k rides don't make the 2017 plan to reach 120 k. That's boring! Set a goal that it's in that sweet spot between impossible and achievable. Coming back to my goal. The TCR is certainly scaring me and keeping me awake at night but I know that with enough training I'll surely do it.

I set SMART goals

SMART meaning:

Specific - do a tour in Europe in June or ride 200 km in a single day

Measurable - some way of knowing that you achieved your goal: a specific mileage, competition, etc.

Achievable - see what I wrote above about the sweet spot

Relevant - make sure your goal is relevant to you, your passions, your overall life goals or more specific cycling long term goals.

Time - have a clear deadline for achieving that goal. I would also add: have at least monthly (if it's a year long goal) checks to see if you're on track.

I write them down. Yes, on paper. With a pen.

I can't really stress enough the importance of writing your goals down. Almost six months ago, I started journaling again and I do it every other day. It gives me clarity, focus and it reminds me why I do the stuff I do every day. Now stick the paper on your desk or in front of your bike trainer to see it every day.

I break it down into a plan

Now that you have the big goal it's time to break it down in more chewable bits. For example, I'm planning to do a specific mileage each month before the TCR. This means I have to do a specific number of rides weekly to achieve that. At the beginning of each week I plan those rides to reach my quota.

I follow through (I hate this part)

Now this is the really nasty part: actually having to work every day towards that goal. This is what I find the hardest and where the struggle really is.  It's because it's here where the fluffy and sweet stuff that dreams are made of is meets the cold and bitter stuff reality is made of. Reality is that cold, windy, misty morning,  when I have to clock this week's 200 k. Brutal!

You just have to remind yourself (and I know it's sooo hard) that this is the stuff champions are made of. It's called GRIT.

What are your audacious cycling goals for 2017?

New dates & discounts for the road cycling tours on the Transfagarasan & Transalpina

New dates & discounts for the road cycling tours on the Transfagarasan & Transalpina

I have some exciting news to share with you.

In the past couple weeks, I've been getting a lot of messages from you, the road cycling community, about the Transalpina and Transfagarasan cycling tour  that we're doing here in Transylvania. The interest to come here and test yourselves on these two epic roads has never been so high as this year.

This just gives me an amazing feeling of fulfillment. I feel that all my work to promote the beauty and uniqueness of this areas is starting to reach more and more of you. :)

I've decided to give you some more options for doing the road cycling tours during the high season so I've added another tour starting with the 20th of August. Check out our 2017 calendar for all the dates.

Also all July tours are 100 Euro cheaper now for the next 5 people who book with us before the end of this month. That's 845 Euro instead of 945 Euro. If you're thinking of booking with us now it's the perfect time to do it.

Thank you all and see you on the road!

Cycling competitions on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina

Cycling competitions on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. Copyright Martin Adventures, Road Cycling Tour.

Year by year, the amazing Transfagarasan and Transalpina highways are becoming, rightfully so, more and more popular with people who are passionate about sports. In turn, this makes them perfect places to stage various types of competitions: cycling, triathlons, trail running and of, course, motor sports, just to name a few.

If you're thinking of coming over to Romania on a holiday this summer and perhaps you don't have enough time to join our road cycling tour on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina, then you could give these competitions a chance.

Transfier

Transfier King of Transfagarasan. Photo via www.transfier.ro

Transfier King of Transfagarasan. Photo via www.transfier.ro

The name literally means Trans (from the Transfagarasan name) + Iron ("fier" is iron in Romanian, from Ironman). So, as the name suggest, the competition started out as an half Ironman distance race a couple of years ago. As it grew in popularity, the organizers added shorter distances for triathlon but also a road cycling race. The latter takes place on the Southern part of the Transfagarasan and the route is 45 km long. It practically represents the best part of the Southern part climb to the top. It usually takes place in the second week of September and registration costs is 15 Euro.

Road Grand Tour Eroica

Road Grand Tour. Picture via www.roadgrandtour.ro

Road Grand Tour. Picture via www.roadgrandtour.ro

Road Grand Tour is a series of road cycling competitions started by Alex Ciocan, a Romanian profesional cyclist. The Eroica takes place on the Transalpina and is, in my opinion, the hardest and most beautiful race in the tour. The route is 90 km long and joins the official Transalpina highway for the final 20 km, the best part of the Northern Climb. If you're around in the second part of August, I'd recommend you give it a go. 

Here's the 2016 and probably 2017 route: https://www.strava.com/activities/683022862

Sibiu Cycling Tour

Sibiu Cycling Tour. Picture via www.ciclism.sibiu.ro

Sibiu Cycling Tour. Picture via www.ciclism.sibiu.ro

According to Wikipedia, the Sibiu Cycling Tour (Cycling Tour of Sibiu until 2015) is a 2.1 category professional bicycle road race held in Sibiu, Romania. Its first edition took place in July 2011, as part of the UCI Europe Tour. Held entirely around the city, the race normally runs over four days including a prologue on the cobbled streets of the city, and two climbing stages, one on the Transfăgărăşan Road to Balea Lac and a second to the mountain resort of Paltinis. 

In 2017 the race will be taking place between 5th - 9th July and, most likely, the Northern side of the Transfagarasan climb will be an individual time trial. 

Even though you can't actually join this race as an amateur, if you're around, perhaps even joining one of our road cycling tours on the Transfagarasan, it's worth watching the big boys going for it.

The PeDAL ED  Transcontinental Race #No5

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. Picture via Apidura https://www.facebook.com/Apidura/

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. Picture via Apidura https://www.facebook.com/Apidura/

The Transcontinental Race (TCR) is an annual, self-supported, ultra-distance cycling race across Europe. It is one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races. The route varies for each edition and the distance has been between approximately 3,200 to 4,200 km, and the winners have taken between 7 and 10 days to reach the finish. Interest in the race has grown rapidly: 30 people started the first edition of the race in 2013; over 1,000 people applied for a place in the fourth edition in 2016, 350 of whom were successful. Source: Wikipedia

I'm double excited about the race. It's the first time the Transfagarasan Highway is on the official route as CP 4, the last one before the finish. More than 350 cyclist will get to see Romania and this magnificent mountain road.

Secondly, if you're reader of my blog, you probably already know that, this year, I'm taking part in the race as a competitor. Woop! Woop! If you're not yet a reader, well this is your chance to become one. :)

Martin's top winter tips for cyclists

Martin's top winter tips for cyclists

If you're like me, and by that I mean, living in the northern hemisphere and "blessed" with a long and cold continental winter, I pity you. :) The relationship between winter and cyclists is just dead from the start. No future there! So here are my tips on how to make it through winter without loosing your sanity.

1. Dream big

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. 

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. 

If you're just stuck indoors for so many months it helps to have a big and inspiring goal for the following season. This is the time for researching your dream tour, for making plans with your rider friends and start doing the arrangements. It will give you a different mind set and a new meaning to your cold, snowy and fogy days. Personally, my ginormous challenge is doing the Transcontinentall Race #5.

>>> Need inspiration? Check out our cycling tours. Road Cycling on the Transfagarasan and Mountain Biking in the Transylvanian Alps

2. Cross train

Cross fit.

Cross fit.

I always use this time of the year as an opportunity to build my cycling strength. There are plenty of tips out there of the specific exercises you could do. I go to cross fit classes two times a week and that's just an amazing workout for me. Also, think about giving trail running or skiing a chance. Even though you're not using the same "cycling muscles", it definitely helps with maintaining your endurance. Oh yeah, one great endurance workout I've been doing recently is the rower. Awesome total body workout + endurance.

3. Join a cycling camp in the South

Tenerife Island. 

Tenerife Island. 

If you have the budget and the time to get away, one thing that you could always do is, instead of waiting for the spring to come to you, for you to go where there's spring already. I'm talking about joining a cycling camp in some place where is warmer. The Pro's usually go to Mallorca, Tenerife or Southern Spain. I'm lucky enough to host a road cycling training camp in Tenerife in March so that is something I absolutely look forward to. 

4. Ride indoor

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I hate myself for giving out this tip! I think that the beauty of cycling comes from the fact that you get to be outdoors, to explore and to feel alive. Riding indoors just kills it for me. But, I have to be realistic and admit, that if there's snow and ice on the road, there's no way to ride out. So yeah, I also use this time to ride the indoor trainer or the stationary bike. Listen to your favorite podcast or audio book, read all those articles you saved months ago and maybe, just maybe, you'll feel time pass faster.

5. Ride outdoor

Even if it's just once a month, I try to find an opportunity to go out and ride. There's nothing like a REAL ride to boost the morale and get the endorphins going. If it's too snowy for the road bike I take out my mountain bike and ride on trails, through the snow.

How do you manage to go through the cold winter times? Leave your tips or thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Martin is going Transcontinental in 2017!

Martin is going Transcontinental in 2017!

The start in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Photo Credit: www.transcontinental.cc

The start in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Photo Credit: www.transcontinental.cc

Because I'm getting closer and closer to the european cycling community, it was just a matter of time before I found out about the Transcontinental cycling race. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it going to be my pleasure to introduce you to one of the greatest solo races out there. And who knows, perhaps implant the dream of actually doing this race too! I'm talking about a 4.000 kilometers adventure that starts on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, Belgium and that finishes in Meteora, Greece. There are only four mandatory checkpoints: Schloss Lichtenstein - Germany, Monte Grappa - Italy, Tatra Mountains - Slovakia and...the Transfagarasan - Romania. Other that that, every rider is free to plan and ride his or her route. This is the first year that the Transfagarasan is part of the race so I'm even more stoked that so many cyclists will climb our awesome road.

The Transfagarasan Highway, Romania. Photo credit: www.martin-adventures.com/road-cycling

The Transfagarasan Highway, Romania. Photo credit: www.martin-adventures.com/road-cycling

The big news that I received at the start of this year is that I was also accepted in this years race together with 200 other riders! I'm excited but also absolutely scared as I've never done something as ambitious before. I researched the race and the route as much as I could and I'm confident that with training... and then some more training, I'll be able to check my objective of being in Meteora in 14 - 16 days. That means an average of 250 km of riding each day non stop for two weeks.

I wanted to share this awesome news with you and of course, I promise to keep you updated on this here blog as things progress.

Cheers,

Silviu

Transfagarasan vs. Transalpina. What's the best road for cycling in Transylvania, Romania?

Transfagarasan vs. Transalpina. What's the best road for cycling in Transylvania, Romania?

By now, everybody knows that Romania has at least one famous road, namely the Transfagarasan Highway. Featured on Top Gear as "the best road in the world for driving", this road has had its share of the spotlight and it keeps attracting aspiring drivers as well as sporting enthusiasts from all over the world.

Perhaps not that well known is the fact that only 100 km away to the West, lies the Transalpina Highway or "The Kings Road", as the locals call it. It's said that its history goes back thousands of years to the time of the Roman Empire. 

I decided to put these two European landmark roads head to head and see which one takes away the prize for the most spectacular road for cycling.

TRANSFAGARASAN

The final km of the Transfagarasan.

The Transfăgărășan (trans [over, across] + Făgăraș) also known as Ceaușescu's Folly, is a paved mountain road crossing the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains. It’s the second-highest paved road (2.042 m) in the country after the Transalpina. It stretches 90 kilometers (56 mi) between the highest peaks in the country, Moldoveanu and Negoiu. The road, built in the early 1970s as a strategic military route, connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia. It has 833 bridges, 28 aqueducts and 5 tunnels, the longest one being 880 meters long.

Transfagarasan is the more popular road of the two. The small distance from Sibiu and Brasos makes it easy for tourist to hop in their cars and arrive at the base of the Transfagarasan in less than one hour. The road is also included in national and international cycling races such as Sibiu Cycling Tour, Transfier Triathlon and (big news!)...Transcontinental Race in 2017.

The elevation profile of the road is pretty straightforward. When you're riding in from the N, you have 30 km of climbing to the top of the Transfagarasan, Balea Lake. It's mostly all downhill from there, around 60 km, with the exception of the occasionally rolling hills.

The road is open every year between 1st July - 30th Octomber.

For "The Complete Guide to Cycling the Transfagarasan" download the detailed brochure on the Road Cycling Tour webpage.

TRANSALPINA

The Transalpina Highway

The Transalpina is a paved mountain road located in the Parâng Mountains group, in the Southern Carpathians of Romania. It's one of the highest roads of the Carpathian Mountains and the highest road in Romania. The road was built under the rule of King Carol II and rebuilt during World War II by German troops. It is called "The King's Road" by the locals because King Carol II and his family opened the road back in the 1930's. Also a story has it that Nicolae Ceauşescu had the Transfăgărăşan Road built during the communist regime just to surpass the Transalpina.

The road has its highest point at the Urdele Pass, where the elevation is 2,145 m above sea level. Given the high altitude, the road is closed during the cold months of the year. Works began in 2007 in order to transform this spectacular road into a modern highway (148 km), allowing a rapid transit between Oltenia and Transylvania.

The elevation profile of the Transalpina and it's length (+60 km when compared to the Tfg.) make this road a more demanding one for cycling. At the end of the day, you'll feel your legs a lot heavier than after cycling the Tfg. When you start riding from the S, you have 30 km to get to the top. After a couple of km of descending, you start a brutal climb that sucks the rest of the energy out of your legs. Wait, there's more. After a nice and peaceful descent, you still have 6 km of climbing and 10 km of flat roads, until you get to the final, long descent. Yeah, it's quite demanding!

HEAD TO HEAD

Before we drill into the results let me first tell you what are the criteria I selected to analyze these two epic roads. Landscapes - it's all about the glorious views that you'll remember; the higher the score, the better the views are. Car traffic - the higher the score, the less cars there are on a regular day. Road Quality - the quality of the tarmac, if it's new tarmac, if there are pot holes, etc.; the higher the score, the better the road quality. Accessibility - how easy is it to get to the base of the road, how close is it to large cities; the higher the score, the more accessible the road is. Extras - how easy it is to find decent food, drinks or accommodation while on the road; the higher the score, the more decent options there are. The maximum score for each category is 5.


Landscapes

TFG: 4

TA: 5

Car Traffic

TFG: 3

TA: 4

Road Quality

TFG: 3

TA: 4

Accessibility

TFG: 5

TA: 4

Extras

TFG: 4

TA: 3

OVERALL

TFG 19/25

TA 20/25


There you have it. The score is tight, favoring the Transalpina slightly. I know I'm a bit subjective and I have to admit that I kind of wanted Transalpina to win. The road quality is better, the road is longer by more than 60 km and the elevation profile makes this road a lot more demanding. All of this, make it my favorite cycling road in Romania.

You can read about the other epic road cycling roads in Romania and, if you can't decide what road to cycle on, you don't have to. Just book our Road Cycling Tour and you can do both in one awesome guided cycling holiday in Romania! :)

 

Travel Tips for British Trekkers Flying to Romania

Travel Tips for British Trekkers Flying to Romania

Just like an adventure reality show such as The Amazing Race, traveling from London can either be tricky and challenging or simple and laid-back. In a way, everything depends on you and your knowledge of the easiest route from your home to the airport, to the parking spaces, all the way to the departure area.

If you’re an avid adventurer, specifically someone who takes pleasure in the thrill of the great outdoors on foot, going to a different European country like Romania is a valid option.  Seat 61 even has a detailed approach to the more than 3000-kilometre journey. However, since we want the most efficient course, for now let’s focus on air travel.

Say you’re departing from Heathrow, an airport described by The Telegraph as the sixth busiest in the world. The most logical thing to do is to leave home early to be ready for the London traffic and find an appropriate airport parking space. As a side note, if you’re driving to Heathrow, it’s imperative to reserve a slot 24-48 hours prior to your flight to enjoy maximum savings and convenience.

On the other hand, since London has an exemplary public transportation network, another way to effectively commute to the airport is via the Express train. The parking and aviation industry experts at Parking4Less even suggest taking the Tube’s Piccadilly Line as a cheaper yet time-consuming alternative to get to Heathrow. Once you reach the west London aviation hub, it all becomes elementary from here on out.

Recently, The Guardian reported the government’s plan for Heathrow’s much-needed expansion. Based on the article, a third runway will soon pave the way for hundreds of thousands more flights to and from London annually. This also means there will be more flights covering the three-hour trip from the UK to Romania.

Now upon arrival at Bucharest International Airport, you have to make your way to Sibiu either by bus, by taxi, or by train. This Transylvanian city is where you’ll find the Piatra Craiului Mountains, where you’ll trek the 25-kilometre, 1.600-metre high trail with sharp ridges and cavernous gorges. The end destination features a main ridge that has a beautiful vista unlike any other.

All in all, travelling from the United Kingdom to Romania can be a breeze as long as you know these little intricacies that may or may not make the difference to your itinerary. For devoted British adventurers, such as yourself, hiking the Transylvanian trails offers something out-of-the-ordinary, a change of pace from the usual city life. So what are you waiting for, put these tips to good use and explore the mountainous regions of Romania on foot.

The 2017 Calendar is out now!

The 2017 Calendar is out now!

Best of 2016

The 2016 season is now over here in Transylvania and the weather has turned to (almost) winter. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our fellow explorers that have joined our tours this year. Take a look at the "Best Of" Facebook album to catch a glimpse of how it all went down.

The 2017 Calendar is now available

To kick-off of the 2017 season, we're launching a new road cycling tour to make the winter months more bearable, namely in Tenerife. You can check out this new Tenerife Road Cycling Tour on our website.

We're continuing with our Road Cycling, Mountain Biking and Trail Running tours with almost no modifications. The Road Cycling tour now starts on a Sunday so that we start enjoying the Transfagarasan on a week day when car traffic is almost 0.

Check out the complete 2017 calendar now.

Meet the Martin Adventures UK Brand Ambassador

Meet the Martin Adventures UK Brand Ambassador

It's so important for Martin Adventures to be close to our local communities of explorers and, starting with this year, we're doing so with the help of our Brand Ambassador Program. I'm really excited to introduce to you Martin Cox - our first UK Brand Ambassador. In case you're wondering - no, we didn't just choose Martin because of his first name. :)

I'd like to thank our judges for their involvement and, of course, their fair judgment: Donna Navarro - award winning blogger, travel lover and women's cycling advocate, Alain Rumpf - a swiss with a pulse & chief cycling officer at Grand Tours Project, Erik Jonsson - a designer turned nature photographer by way of cycling and Tom Owen - a professional cycling writer with a travel ‘problem’ & founder of the Big Boys Bicycle Club.

We've interviewed Martin for our blog so that you get to know him better. You can also follow him on his blog , Facebook or Instagram to learn more about his cycling adventures.

Martin Cox - age 39 - freelance writer, consultant, university lecturer

You’re a self declared cyclist. Why did you choose cycling and what does it add to your life?

Why cycling? low impact, high smiles, cake-enabling exercise! What does it add? Everything? It doesn’t matter how long or short, after any bike ride I’m a better version of myself. It can stretch me in ways I’d never have considered previously, I know more about me than i thought possible.

How do you manage to combine your hobbies with your job?

I got rid of the TV to avoid that time suck, and I’m not scared to set an early alarm! other than that my work fits around my passions in life, family and cycling.

What is your favorite place to ride, how many times have you been there and would you return?

It’s so hard to choose a single favorite, because it discounts so many stunning places to ride! I would say in terms of scenery it would probably be either Tuscany in France (mountains and purple fields) or Taiwan for the sheer multitude of hills! But closer to home I adore the effects of my local roads, for the calming focus they bring to my life.
 

What is your next travelling destination and what made you decide you should go there? 

By the time this is published I’ll be racing around Ireland in the Transatlantic Way Race, a solo 2.500 km race around Ireland's west coast. Going for these stupid races is what motivates me all year :-)

You said that cycling the Transfagarasan is high on your list of places you'd like to ride. How did it end up there since is not such a well known road?

I came across a picture of the road and knew had to ride it! the scale of the engineering feat is fabulous and the story behind the road is incredible. It looks utterly crazy to ride, like the Stelvio but stretched out further :-)
 

When it comes to riding your bike in the city, what is the first thing that comes in your mind and why?

Own the space, ride like a car driver and make each and every move obvious, blatant and utterly impossible to ignore, in short; don’t get hit!

 

The essential & short 5

  • Riding with music? Yes, if the mood takes me.
  • Alone or with crew? Normally alone, I like to ride for days, exploring and racing countries, and it's easier to go alone. But I do love to ride with my son, and I'm teaching him the ways of going long!
  • Always wearing the helmet (even short commutes)? No
  • Eating gels on rides?  Yes, whatever is to hand!
  • Love climbs? Love the idea of climbs!

If you could send a message to all the cyclists in the world, how would that sound? 

There is literally nothing in this world that will provide you with more boundary-stretching fulfillment than simply riding a bike. It is THE greatest method of transportation and fun available, where else can you experience true joy on nothing more than bowl of porridge!

Why the hell should I visit Romania?

Why the hell should I visit Romania?

In case you're still asking yourself "Where is Romania?" or "Where is Transylvania?", perhaps you should read this article first: "Where is Transylvania"

Look, I know there are plenty of articles out there written by people that have already visited Romania in the past couple of years and have had an incredible, positive experience. Here are just a couple of them if you'd like to read them:

Things you didn't know about Romania by Travel Away

Here are some reasons to never ever visit Romania by Happy Traveler

9 reasons you should be afraid to visit Romania by Heart My Backpack

Lets not forget that we also have Lonely Planet recommending Transylvania (you know, that more famous region in Romania) as their 2016 region of choice. That's quite something, right?

Nevertheless, I'll still take my chance at bringing something new on this subject since people that come on our tours are more adventurous, cycling or trekking savvy and not that keen on cultural or historical aspects.

So, I'll mostly share my five reasons and one anti-reason for "Why the hell should you take a cycling or trekking holiday in Romania, in 2016?"

1. It's the nature, baby

View of the Piatra Craiului National Park in Transylvania, Romania

Most of the experiences above, mention the breathtaking nature as one of the main reasons for coming to Romania, and that's not without justification. We've been blessed with all types of land forms: the Black Sea, the Danube Delta, the Transylvanian Plateu and Hills and, of course, the Carpathian Mountains. So basically, in just 6 hours you could taking a bath in the Black Sea and then trek on top of Moldoveanu at more than 2.500 meters above sea level. This gives you plenty of options for exploration and practicing various sports on your holiday.

2. The Mountain Biking trails are awesome. And not crowded at all.

Mountain Biking trails in the high Bucegi Mountains

I actually believe that Romania is one of the least known high quality mountain biking destinations in Europe and quite possibly in the World. With a forest cover of roughly 30%, quite similar to Switzerland or Norway actually, there are endless single tracks options through the woods. Let's not forget the Alpine routes in the Carpathian Mountains. And as I mentioned at #1 you could practice MTB on all types of terrains: from the shores of the Black sea to the ridges of the Transylvanian Alps. Check out my more detailed article on the "Five of the the most beautiful off road cycling holidays areas in Romania".

3. The Road Cycling is intense

The Transfagarasan Road, Transylvania, Romania

Maybe you were actually thinking that the roads in Romania are bad, crowded and not suitable for road cycling. You wouldn't be that far from the truth. Actually I'm not encouraging you to tour Romania on a bike - although other people have done it and it's not that bad, it seems.

We have some epic climbs that are actually worth doing at least once in a lifetime. I'm mainly talking about the Transfagarasan and the Transalpina but also other nearby routes. One of our fellow cyclists and clients from Norway, has actually mentioned that climbing the Transfagarasan on a road bike was one of his childhood dreams. How about that for a new tagline: "Martin Adventures is making dreams come true". Check out my more detailed article on the "The five most difficult cycling climbs in Romania".

4. The accommodation is authentic

Inn on Balaban in Bran

I never thought that I'd put this on my list, but yes, I'm actually doing it. Most accommodations in Romania are bad and customer service sucks. I know. But, look, I'm not talking about the average places now. In the past couple of years some forward thinking B&B owners figured out they could just have decent service and that alone could take them ahead of the competition.

They managed to keep the local atmosphere and flavor, improved on the comfort level and the client service and there you have it. They are pretty successful now and others are following their lead. I can easily recommend ten great accommodations in Romania such as Inn on Balaban. You'll find them in the "The Adventure Travel e-Guide to Romania" you can opt to receive at the end of this post.

5. The community

Me with my friends and family

Me with my friends and family

Us Romanians have learned to believe that "we're a friendly and hospitable folk". This is more or less a myth. One guy, and by this I mean "a scientist", actually made a serious study on the subject and we didn't come out as friendly as other people in Europe. But here's something else that he found out. Things radically change when we're talking about small communities. Romanians tend to organize themselves in these small, trust based and niche communities.

What I'm saying is that, if you manage to make your way into these kind of niche communities, you'll be surprised by how much people are willing to give without asking anything in return. These means that, when you're planning your trip in Romania, adventurous or not, you should look for signs that the local provider (B&B, host, tour operator) has ties with the local community and they are willing to let you in.

6. (Not for) Dracula and Vampires

Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania

You won't find any vampires here in Transylvania and for that matter...not anywhere the world. You know why? They don't exist. Grow up! :) Really now, if your only reasons for visiting Romania are the vampire stories and the castle in Bran, you'll surely be disappointed. Of course, there will be plenty of people trying to make some profits out of this story but most Dracula tours, restaurants or birth places, etc. are just a waste of your time. Believe me. If you don't, read this very long article by Livescience on The Real Dracula.

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What do you think? Do you agree with my views on this or not? Looking forward to reading your comments below.


Looking for the next UK Brand Ambassador

Looking for the next UK Brand Ambassador

Silviu writes his thoughts on the Martin Adventures community and launching the Brand Ambassador Program. Also you may read about how to enter the #MARTINADVENTURES Instagram contest and win a cycling trip in Transylvania, Romania.

Where is Transylvania?

Where is Transylvania?

Transylvania is the travel destination for 2016 according to Lonely Planet and other experts. Here are a couple of general facts about Transylvania and Romania. In case you're wondering, I did answer some of the Dracula questions. Enjoy!