Fall colors in the Retazat Mountains

After eight days in a row of hard mountain riding, a two-day rest in Alba Iulia wasn’t enough.  I knew it but felt pushed by the continued fantastic weather.  It couldn’t last, right?

Snežana and I entered and left Alba Iulia on lousy, narrow, under-construction roads.  Why do cities need to be surrounded by such messes?  Two turnoffs from busier roads took us to us to a nice, quiet climb through the Metaliferi Mountains.  We found a wonderful, quiet, cold campsite — it was the first hard frost of the trip.

DSCN5794 by bryandkeith on flickr

A beautiful camp; the first hard frost of the trip by bryandkeith on flickr

Next was a brief stop in Hunedoara to visit the castle — another disappointing Romanian castle.  I’m sure glad we spent that fun morning in Stará Lubovna:

DSCN4883 by bryandkeith on flickr

The best thing about Hunedoara’s castle is the view from parking lot:

The best view of the castle, complete with cars :( by bryandkeith on flickr

A “short-cut” on a ridiculously steep dirt road (up — had to push; down — good brakes required) took us over the eastern edge of the Retazat Mountains into the Jiu River valley.  Yikes, was this ugly!  Vulcan, Lupeni, Uricani — each better than the previous but they were the ugliest cities I’ve seen in Romania.  Don’t be fooled, however.  The high road connecting the Jiu River to the Cerna River is fantastic.  It must be the longest I’ve ever pedaled in Europe without seeing another person or a car or a village.

But first, two days in Cimpu Lui Neag where I recovered from a cold (not enough resting…).  Summer ended abruptly.  One day I was lounging around in the shade almost naked:

Oct. 7 -- the last day of summer? by bryandkeith on flickr

Two days later it was snowing at the top of our last pass (1365m) in Romania.

It was snowing and a bit breezy by bryandkeith on flickr

Then it was down, down, down to the Cerna River.  Fantastic dirt road touring.

First day in my fancy Pearl Izumi shirt by bryandkeith on flickr

I couldn't figure out why Snežana was walking this section; then I rode it and crashed by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN5887 by bryandkeith on flickr

The 20 km winding around Cerna Reservoir was the best fall foliage I’ve ever seen.  At the end we were treated to views of snow-covered ridges in three directions.  It was new snow from the previous two days.

DSCN5899 by bryandkeith on flickr

First snow of the season on the Retazat Mountains by bryandkeith on flickr

And, this being Romania, we camped that night (for free, of course!) next to hot springs in Băile Herculane.  A shower and a soak in 38°C water — ah, this is the life.

A few more images:

On the way to camp by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN5824 by bryandkeith on flickr

Seriously?  Another beautiful gorge in Romania? by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN5919 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSCN5913 by bryandkeith on flickr

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5 Responses to Fall colors in the Retazat Mountains

  1. Jeff Yegian says:

    Hey Bryan and Sneki – had lunch at Kim’s just before a foot of snow hit and thought of you. Finally looked up the blog and subscribed. Great blog entries! I’m going to need a better atlas though as you’re “off the map” lots of the time. Sign of a great trip…headed for Turkey for the winter still? Jeff

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Hey Jeff, if you say it’s “off the map”, it must really be out there! We have certainly managed to get off the paper map that I had, and we were off the maps in Snežana’s GPS. It must be a good tour when locals have to have a discussion to figure out if the road really does go to the other side of the mountain.

  2. Rudi Volti says:

    You’ve forced me to re-evaluate Romania. Back in the 70s I admired the country’s efforts to keep the Russians at arm’s length, but I was repelled by the murderous antics of Nicolae Ceaucescu, “The Genius of the Carpathians.” But he got his just rewards and now I should put Romania on my list of places to visit some time in the future.

    Here’s one for Sneki– a couple of nights ago we went to a concert featuring Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band. Wild stuff, and much appreciated by the audience!

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Well, even crazy Ceauceşcu couldn’t tame the wild Carpathians. Romania is now in my top-three — list of favorite countries for bicycle tour!

      I watched a couple Goran Bregović songs on youtube last night. Fun.

  3. romeo says:

    Bravo!Thank you very much!

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