Part 2 of section 1 completed – mostly wearing snow goggles
For a Swede it is normal to travel south to meet the spring and for us our plan was to meet the spring somewhere south of the Tatra mountains in Poland. Instead of spring we got a major blizzard and the further south we have travelled the worse the weather has got and maybe there will be igloos along the streets of Bangkok when we arrive.
I have used my snow goggles much more often than I wanted to and my hope was to not need to use them on the ride in to Bucharest, but once again the surroundings were all white when we glanced out from the window in our motel room. It didn’t look like a snow goggle-free day….
The strong wind from yesterday evening had ceased a bit but not completely and it had started to snow heavily instead. To say that we were happy for the cycling conditions would be an exaggeration, but nevertheless there were one major advantage that we immediately noticed. There was hardly any traffic on the road.
It was 102 km to the address where P’Pat (diplomat at the Thai Embassy) lives and if it hadn’t been for the weather conditions it would have been a normal distance to ride. Now it looked like we would have trouble to reach the capital within one day.
We set off at 8.20 without having decided any goal for the day. Our aim was just to get a lot closer to Bucharest so that we could reach it tomorrow if we can’t do it today.
At first the cycling went without problems. We were almost alone on the road, the wind was in our sides and the snow that fell was dry so we never got wet. The road had been cleared of snow and salt sprayed so there was only a string of slushy brown melting snow in the middle of it. Everytime a car overtook us we got a spray straight into our sides and we soon had to put on our rain pants to not get completely wet from those showers.
Our routine is that one rides at the back act as a rearguard shouting to the one in front whenever cars or trucks approach from behind. Being the rear guard during the early hours of this ride was easy because there was hardly any traffic to warn about.
After some 20 km we came to a little gas station that didn’t belong to any of the big chains. There was no little nice cafe with wifi that we had got used to. This small gas station looked like the gas stations of the old days where you could get your car repaired and on the shelves there were all sorts of spare parts for a car, but nothing for a bicycle.
We were invited in to this little station and there was a small group of people gathered there for their daily gossiping. We were placed on chairs in front of a heater and although we couldn’t understand each other’s language at all, we used sign language. Wej was once again asked if she is Japanese. One of the guys seemed to be a real joker and pointed to his belly and said he was working hard to be a sumo wrestler. We then invited him to ride with us and he then struck his forehead with his hand and exclaimed something that we understood as ”crazy”.
The wind got stronger and the snow turned into rain and we stopped at every gas station we passed to get warm. Our daily budget for coffee has probably to be revised after this trip.
Everytime we came to a village or a gas station we looked at our map and GPS as well as asked the locals about where the next motel would be. Sometimes the weather got a little bit better and then I felt that we should go as long as possible but when passing long straight sections over open fields, then I just wanted to get to the next motel. The headwind was fierce and we couldn’t communicate properly without shouting.
The longer we got, the more the thought of maybe reaching Bucharest got on to our minds.
Normally we have a plan for the day and in the afternoon we discuss where to stay for the night, but if anyone of us feels week it is that person who has to decide to stop earlier. I have made such a decisions a couple of times when I have been completely worn out. During this ride it was Wej who felt weak while I could have gone on.
As the day went by we just kept going and going and aimed at a motel some 20-25 km outside Bucharest. When we got there around 5 PM it looked nice and I looked forward to the nice shower, but I had hardly put my feet on the ground when Wej said:
– Let’s go for Bucharest.
She is really tough and I hesitated a bit, but she was stubborn and just apparently she didn’t want to bike the following day so off we went. The road had made some turns and we now had tailwind and could ride at hight speed. We passed the ring road that encircles the city and just kept going following the GPS.
When looking at the map of Bucharest it resembles a cycle wheel with the ring road as the rim and the big avenues leading into the city as the spokes. We rode in to the city along one of those ”spoke-avenues” and soon we were outside P’Pats house.
Before lifting the bikes up to her apartment, they needed to be cleant before. Wej fetched bucket after bucket with warm water and we rinsed everything form panniers to the bikes itself.
In the evening we had some very welcome change to the Romanian cuisine. P’Pat served home made spring rolls and a Thai omelette. Things couldn’t be better and once sitting down in her apartment, we really appreciated that we had put in the extra effort to reach Bucharest in one day.
To conclude today’s cycling I can just say that I arrived Bucharest using my snow goggles. They have been used in Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and southern Romania. This was not planned, but now we are finally here…. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I really hope I won’t need them all the way to Bangkok.