I woke with the sun and happily noted a handful of interesting emails from home sitting in my inbox. Already feeling cheerful, I got Ben up and we began packing up from our lovely campsite filled with German and Dutch retirees. Have I mentioned how much I love organized camping?
As we cleaned and repaired our bikes and equipment next to our tent last night, I mused that it was unfortunate that everything we owned was going to be in great shape to hit the road today except us. Our legs were feeling fatigued and tired, but we’ve decidedly delayed taking a rest day for a couple more days until we get up into the mountains, out of the heat wave they are experiencing here.
We got to pedaling, first, out of what seemed to be the ritzy area of Bucharest and then through miles and miles of tiny towns and farmland. Our early start bestowed cool weather on us and we pedaled fast, determined to make some distance before the sun came out in force.
The whole ride was a gentle uphill climb and for once the headwind was at least mild. Everyone was out and about, heading to church, catching the bus, and manning vegetable and flower stands. I kept thinking that if this many people in our neighborhood at home were out walking around like that, I would assume something was on fire. Something about the way we drive cars everywhere in our culture certainly removes the community feeling of a neighborhood that walks to finish necessary errands, waving and talking with each other on the way.
Other than watching the neighborhoods of people stare at us as we went by, our ride wasn’t terribly interesting. Fields of hay, wheat, and sunflowers stretched as far as we could see. Not until we were nearly done for the day did we start to see hills sprouting out of the horizon- a promise that we were on our way to Transylvania!
Ben pulled way more than his fair share today in an attempt to keep our speed up and to get us to town before our energy burned right up. As we pedaled and pedaled, my legs and back moaning about the task at hand, it occurred to me that today is Father’s Day. I wished my dad was here to join us on our ride- it just isn’t the same riding without him!
We cranked through fifty miles in just about four hours, a blistering pace for us on these loaded bikes. We rolled into our final destination at 11:30 AM just as the heat was really getting going and began looking for the hotel I’d marked in the GPS. By then, I had no gas left in my tank. We crawled through town, my legs whining, until we reached the hotel who didn’t have any rooms available until 2:00 (check in times are usually not that strict here!).
Hot and exhausted, we determined that we didn’t want to wait that long and forced ourselves to go a couple more kilometers to the opposite edge of town to try another smaller, family run place. We found it quickly but it was locked up tight. We rang the bell repeatedly, but no one seemed to be around. We sat tight outside on a cool rock wall, hoping someone might turn up, but no one did. By then, I could barely keep my eyes open and the heat was getting ever more oppressive. It was starting to feel urgent that we get off the bikes, cool off, and get some rest.
Feeling a little tense as we watched the sun encroach slowly on our shady spot against the wall, we headed back toward the middle of town, thinking we’d try our final hotel possibility in the GPS before conceding to wait until 2:00 for a shower and a nap. Only about half way there, Ben unexpectedly pulled over, gesturing at a very unclear sign, noting that it might be a hotel. The sign did, after all have stars on it. Skeptical, we headed across the street and through the gate where we met the couple that owns the place. It is a budget operation in every sense of the word (a dive really!), but the room felt cool, had wifi and a sort-of-shower and was nearly as cheap as our campsite had been. I needed no more convincing.
The owners talked at us in rapid Romanian and obviously we never understood a word, but we somehow got checked in, showered, and fell fast asleep for most of the afternoon. Even as I napped I could feel my fatigued legs burning!
Finally, I got up and went on a round of food hunting, leaving Ben to get some work done. I ended up at the pizza joint a block or two away. I brought the boxes back to share with Ben and the two of us devoured two whole pizzas in one easy sitting.