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Stage Twenty Four - 21st June 2012


Sean Barker

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Cartisoara (ROM) to Corbeni (ROM)

What an epic day!

I awoke this morning feeling quite delicate, not sure if it was the home distilled alcohol last night or the fact I've been feeling a little under the weather with a slight tummy bug over the last couple of days but I was still excited about the stage to come.

The climb could best be described as gruelling. I took around four hours to cycle the 30km to the top as the heat took its toll on my weakened body.

I stopped occasionally to take photos and have a drink. It was on one of those early stops that two German men pulled over to see if I was OK, Thinking I was in trouble they felt compelled to pull over and come to my assistance. I reassured them I was fine and that I always looked this bad when temperatures were over 35c and I was cycling up a seemingly never ending mountain.

We stopped and chatted about football for a while; they were both staunch Borussia Dortmund fans but had a keen interest in the English game.

I headed off again but it was clear I wasn’t right, I was sweating profusely and feeling nauseous also I was going through my water faster than I had anticipated and was now concerned that I was going to run out before getting to the other side.

At an altitude 1650m just as I passed the tree line I was forced to stop as I was getting quite unsteady on the bike. As I sat down in the shadow of a great boulder a car pulled over and an Israeli couple came over to see if I needed help. I told them that I was exhausted and was taking a rest. The lady was quite concerned about me and insisted I took a selection of fruits to eat on the climb. She asked if I had enough water and when I explained that I had water in my drinks bottles but it was now quite warm she bid her husband to go to the boot of their car where he returned with a two litre bottle of half frozen water. I drank deep and drained the bottle, she smiled and getting another insisting I fill my bottles.

They told me that they were driving over the mountain to see the beautiful “Lake Vidrau” beyond and that they would look for me on their return. We bid each other adieu and I watched them vanish around the next hairpin bend as I continued my accent.

Refreshed and feeling somewhat stronger I pushed on until I reached the summit. No sooner had I got there than I saw a cyclist coming towards me. We immediately made a bee line towards each other embraced in utter disbelief in seeing another cyclist. His name was Sylvain from France; we chatted for a while and told each other of our adventures. He was also a long distance solo cyclist enjoying the unique challenges that it brings, Once again he hugged me and said “Sean we are brothers from a very small family”.

We said our goodbyes and descended the mountain in different directions.

Some half way down the mountain I stopped to cook a meal and take a rest. While there the Israeli couple on their return trip pulled in and the lady in quite an emotional state told me how proud she was that I did it and how relieved she was to see me and how they had worried all day about me.

In yet another gesture of kindness she gave me more food that they had bought for me in the town I would get to some hours later. I thanked them for their generosity and told them it was an act of kindness I would never forget. She hugged me and I shook his hand before heading in our different directions.

I continued on past the beautiful “Lake Vidrau” before finding a pension under the shadow of Draculas castle in a quaint little village.

P1000877.jpg

The ascent but still with the much appreciated shade from the trees

P1000878.jpgThe sheer drops at the edge of the road, if you lose your line on this road you won’t live to tell the tale

P1000880.jpgLandslides are a constant threat up here. There are signs every kilometre or so strongly advising you to be quiet.

P1000882.jpgAbove the tree line the sun really takes its toll on the cyclist but the views are spectacular

P1000885.jpgYou know it’s been a real climb when you get this white stuff on the higher ground

P1000889.jpgAnd now for the downhill section on the other side, time for your hands to ache on the brakes instead on your legs on the pedals.

P1000890.jpgA quick stop for another shot of this truly breath taking landscape

P1000892.jpgOK maybe just one more

P1000897.jpg

Just taking in the stunning views

P1000903.jpg

The stunningly beautiful Lake Vidaru

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