Woke up around 0530 and the air some quite humid so all stuff was quite wet. Normal but not nice at all. Get up, get prepared, get dressed. Brushing teeth was always something for the first mile on the bike, morning excercise so to say. At the first petrol station I met a rider who was just messing up the entire shop with his espresso cups, from Amsterdam, gonna recall his name later. First Romanian espresso was probably the best of all Romanian espressi I had. The selected road had mostly been fast links to get to the check points quickly. Meanwhile I decided to leave these roads to get some feeling off these roads. In Cluj-Napoca, I decided to stop and take some Romanian breaths. You can hardly say it is culture, the people that sit around during the day are often the ones that are left behind, drinking beer and slivovice in the early hours of the day. The places do never look as if someone did take care of them Dirty, filthy, actually these places fit to many of the TCR riders as we were often looking and smelling the same. I had the impression that Romania was an expensive country for their own citizens. Having the feeling that many people try to make the max. amount of money out of you -as an obvious alien-, did not make me feel comfortable at all.
As usually, I stopped for coffees and coke here and there, but the feeling was not so nice and cosy in Romania. As soon as there was some contact to the locals, things changed and it was nice. The weather was not really sunny, we had some slight rain, it was not too bad for cycling. Getting closer to check points means for me to get a stronger will of longer rides, also through the night. So I decided that I want to ride the CP04 parcour in the early morning of the next day. The consequence for today was some more work of grinding…
Getting to Turda in the rain, I realized that I had to re-route as this section of the main roads had been blocking during the race. The recommended way was west via Sibiu, but I decided differently, I went via Medias. I passed some traffic jams, the few chances of a cyclist for revanche. On my way to Medias, I came across some old ladies that were selling their own homegrown tomatoes in the front of their gardens. I wanted to get one, she wanted to sell ‘one kilogram’, so I accepted to take two. Then she did not want to accept my money. Finally she did accept it. I putt two huge and delicious tomatoes into my jersey pockets as I was fully equipped.
I met the first road biker on the opposite side of the road. I waved my head and passed him. He shouted out my name and turned around, so I slowed down a little. His name was Flavius and we rode to Medias together, talking about cycling, Romanian wildlife and risks of riding at night. Later on, he offered me to stay at his house over night. I denied as I had my plan to reach the start of CP04 parcour before dawn. But I accepted his invitation for a little dinner. Even this is against the rules of TCR, I was really happy to meet someone local. A fried potato with a fried egg and some water. This was just perfect. His wife had German roots so we talked a little in German, strange things happen. I spent a good hour together with Flavius and his wife, after a quick shower I left and Flavius joined again for a while. Very soon, I was out again in nowhere. Once in a while a car passed and I had the feeling that the car slowed down in front of me, to escort me, somehow. To protect me. This happened more than once and it scared me a little. Until now I was not scared of dogs or bears. Even though also Flavius called all TCR riders crazy fools, as they ride throughout the nights and get surprised if they meet angry dogs or even bears. From Medias to the petrol station that I wanted to reach, I had to cross three or four villages, with dogs. The first village I raced through quickly and fast enough, so they could not catch up with me. During the time I got tired more and more, so I started to look for shelters under bridges. As it was a very humid night, I did not want to sleep under the open sky, as all my stuff would get really really wet. Well, too tired to continue and make it through the last village before my targeted petrol station, I stopped next to the road, on the left side. I put my head on the tt-bar and fell asleep immediately. I woke up again when I fell to the ground. In the first moment, I was really angry with myself as I could not remember the last minutes. I expected that I fell asleep on the bike, again. But this would have been the first time that I fell off. Then I realized that I stopped before and everything was fine, again. I was happy and strong enough to make it through the last village for that night. I took it really slow, stopped in between and barked back at the dogs. Nothing happened, no dog bites. After I passed the last village, I found myself on a track that I could rarely find in the high wet grass. I could not imagine that any of my planning tools could know this path. The moon was out and it look as if it was a simple sheep track or similar. I zoomed into my garmin and realized that I was off my route. I crossed a wet and slippery field to find my way back on track, although it was just made by sheep a little bit bigger than the others… This path led me to some steel and steel rope constructions. I knew that I had to cross a river, close before reaching my final petrol station of the day. This was it. I put my left foot on some old and slippery wooden planks and my left hand on a rotten handrail made from steel. I was not confident at all. What I could see did not look and feel good. One foot for testing if these rotten planks were strong enough, one hand to hold myself to the rail, the other one to hold my bike. The more I got ahead, even I was slow, the bridge started moving, from left to right as well as forth and back. A link to Torsten Frank, here is looks like paradise. How lovely, four o’clock in the morning, dancing on some Romanian antique bridge. This is what I call adventure, I was certain that I would not have crossed this bridge during daylight.
I reached my petrol station, tried to find a good place for rest, failed, so I used two chairs at the cafe area to rest for two hours. This might have been one of my most uncomfortable night off all, during this race.