Friday, June 19, 2015

The Transalpina

We saved the best for last. Well... we didn't, the Romanians did. On our way back to Bucharest, we heard that the Transalpina had just re-opened! Well, officially it was still closed but the road was no longer blocked with snow and we only had to dodge the barrier. So guess what we did? We made a 400 km detour just to ride the Transalpina... and we weren't disappointed. Mike said it was the best mountain pass he had ever been on with his bike. I can't say I agree. Not that I didn't like the Transalpina (far from it in fact) but how can I compare all the different mountain passes we have been on in the last months alone? They are all stunning and all very different. What Mike meant though was the road itself. It is nothing more than an asphalt ribbon through a mountainous area. Literally as there are no safety barriers of any sort. Miss the corner here and you go into the valley below!

The Transalpina is one of those roads that should be on any motorcyclist bucket list. It's winding, it's stunning, it's steep and on days like this there isn't anyone there. What are days like this, you wonder? Just after it re-opened from its winter break and before the tourist season starts. Normally it opens on June 1st but we were in luck when it openend two weeks earlier. The weather forecast had been perfect for the day, but was wrong. The predicted sunny day was heavily overcast and we had a bit of rain too. As we zoomed in closer and closer we saw thick black clouds forming ahead of us...

At one stage we couldn't even see the mountains anymore and wondered if there was any point in going up now. I'm glad we persevered though as not only was the Transalpina dry, we even had some sunshine! The winter snow had done a lot of damage. Damage that wasn't repaired yet but didn't prevent us to declare the road open. Getting there was a long stint for us. Maybe 400 km doesn't sound like much but over Romanian country roads it can be quite time consuming. 

Parts of the road we took were in quite a bad shape. Mike was up front and through the UClear intercom it was a continuous stream of 'pothole right, pothole left, pothole middle and left' etc. Then suddenly I heard 'pothole left, potho.. SHIT!!!' followed by an airborne Yamaha :-) He missed a pothole... a big one! Seeing him airborne had me standing on the pegs straightaway!

To make sure we had enough time, we left early that morning. The sun had just come over the mountains to give beautiful floodlighting. There was hardly anyone on the road this early and we thus enjoyed it even more. There is something to be said about rising early! We made photos and enjoyed the ride. 

Reaching the actual Transalpina was one of those moments where we looked at each other, realising where we were and how glad we were that we were doing this! We took photos of the road and the impressive mountains it 'flows' through. A Hungarian couple on a Honda CB500 enjoyed it just as much. They rode parts up and down several times, filming themselves... so did we. And what did we do when we had ridden the Transalpina? Well, we turned around and rode it back again!

Give him mountains, twisty roads and he's happy!
Check the video to see what it is like to ride the Transalpina! The rain that had threatened all day, and was bucketing down in the distance, left us alone until later that night. Another perfect day and a perfect end to our 2,500 km ride through wonderful Romania. Guess what is on our bucket list now? To come back here of course!

But the story had a twist... unlike we thought when I wrote this post, it was't to be the end of our Romanian adventure after all... we were in for another treat! See the next post!