Our Transylvanian Alps program is always a challenging tour. We go up (a lot of up) and down (plenty of down) through five different mountains, at altitudes ranging from 700-800m to 2300m and higher, on technical, enduro-like trails, but also on smooth, flowy forest trails. Weather can also provide some challenges, throwing in the odd rain or icy-snow crust on the high trails.
The Transylvanian Alps tour we organised in October 2016 for a Belgian gang started with a different challenge: trying to remember which one of the brave bikers is Bert, or Bart, or Dirk, or Gert, or Eric, or Nic. I have a terrible ability to remember people’s names, so you can imagine my problem :).
Like any other problem, there is only one way to deal with it: face it, than try so solve it. I had seven full days of intensive mountain biking on the Carpathian trails to remember all names and associate then with corresponding faces, and, as expected, at about the end of the tour I was in the clear. It only took me about five mountains :).
We started our tour in summer like weather, biking up in Ciucas Mountain on a superb Sunday. Some trekkers were also on the trail (rather busy for Romanian standards, pretty quiet compared with what mountain bikers normally face when going to the mighty Alps in Swiss, Austria, France, Italy, etc.), but they were friendly and supporting, making us feel like on a big tour mountain climb.
Grohotisului and Baiului Mountains
Going from Bratocea pass to Prahova Valley, in Azuga, is a big endurance test. The profile is simple: a big climb, a great descent, another bigger climb and a final superb descent, with some small diversions along the route. About 45 km, around 2000m ascents and descents: these are the numbers of a day who comes closest to the definition of an “epic” day.
The Belgian gang survived the test with flying colours, rushing at the end of the final climb for a sprint finish.
The Bucegi Natural Park offers enough trail options for three full days of mountain biking. Forrest trails in the Eastern side, at lower altitudes, single tracks on the high altitude plateau, and the scenic descent on the Western side, with the one and only Strunga Pass trail. The weather kept us from getting to the Omu Peak, but the fresh snow in the second day provided some great scenery in the third.
The spectacular Zărnești Gorges, the delicious home made pie at Cabana Curmătura, the technical trails, the scenic mountain villages in the Bran Country: The Piatra Craiului National Park is always a very dense and diverse experience, we enjoyed it in full.
Postavaru Mountain was scheduled for the last day, as the sixth mountain of the tour, but the weather forced us to opt for a quiet, more touristic program. Visiting the Bran Castle, enjoying the old city centre of Brasov. The legs were happy with some rest, the souls were longing for some trail time. Maybe next time, the trails aren’t going anywhere!