Archive for June, 2012

Before the Mures-Olt Marathon on 23rd of June, we’ve decided to do some high altitude training from Balea to Negoiu on 17’th of June. The forecast was more than promising and we were more than eager to go up on Fagaras main ridge. Last time when I did this route was 2 years ago… I still remember my knees really killed me and more than half of the route I struggled to walk and to get back to the car. This time I wanted to be different, I wanted to enjoy this beautiful route and come back to the car smiling.

I’ve called Balea hut on Friday to ask if the road is opened to cars from Balea Cascada to Balea Lake. They confirmed so I was ecstatic, but when entering the Transfagarasean national road there was a plate saying that the road was closed :(. I’ve continued till Balea Cascada and I’ve noticed that one way of the road was opened … so I’ve continued to go up. After a few km I’ve realized that I was not the only one … the Barbecue Guys were there before me to occupy the best positions. I like also to barbecue but to see it done on Transfagarasean … I really hate it! Come on, can’t you just let this beautiful piece of nature like it is. Why the fuck would want to spoil it with your shitty barbecue. Can’t you just take some food with you and eat it there on a blanket (and than take your garbage with you)? I’m looking forward for the barbecue law to finally be in place !!!

Anyway we’ve arrived at 9:30 at Balea Lake, prepared for the hike and started the first climb to Laita peak. The weather was a little cold, but after a few minutes of climbing it was just great.

After we’ve reached Laita the view was great … there is a lot of snow though on the shaded parts of the ridge. Form Laita peak we’ve started to run. We were so much enjoying it that we’ve started to shout :). Excellent !!!

Until the base of Laitel peak the route is really runnable and beautiful. The ridge line is well above 2100 m so it makes a really good altitude training for increasing the lungs capacity. After 1h:15 min we were up on Laitel. The view towards Caltun and Negoiu was absolutely wonderful. We took some pictures and continued running till Caltun where we had some cereal bars.

After Caltun there is a small climb and after … a lot of snow was on the route. An ice ax would have been quite useful in case of a slip … but we were very careful and manage to cross the tricky potions without it.

We wanted to climb through Strunga Dracului like last time, but when we’ve arrived at the base of it the cables were broken. We slowly continued up with no help from the cables and at the middle of it we’ve realized that the reason for the broken cables was a massive rock slide :(. Again, extremely careful we’ve passed the tricky portions and close to the end the route was again safe. After finishing Strunga Dracului we’ve saw a piece of metal were it was written that Strunga Dracului was closed due to rock slides :(. It would have been helpful to have the same sign on the base of the route, but we were happy that everything went well.

We’ve continued to climb to Negoiu and around 12:00 we were up on the peak. The view … excellent. We could see Sibiu, Vidraru dam and a lot of Fagaras ridge. However there were a lot of annoying flies :(. We’ve relaxed half an hour on the peak and than climbed down through Strunga Doamnei.

At Caltun we had a sandwich, some water and than continued. Again we’ve really enjoyed the runnable portions of the route and around 4 PM we were back at Balea.

The weather was extremely good, the mountain great and we’ve really enjoyed the whole experience. Most importantly I arrived at the car with a smile on my face and absolutely no pains,

I will finish this post with a warning – be careful to avoid Strunga Dracului. This route will be probably closed and climbing down through it its extremely dangerous.

Although some time has passed since 9th of June my memory is still fresh when I think about 3 Mountains Bike Marathon. After a full May with 2 marathons I was thinking to relax with a nice bike competition. I was sooo wrong… :). This year I’ve done a couple of bike rides from Brasov to Poiana Brasov and back. In total this route is about 20-25 km. I was doing it in about 50 minutes and I thought that 60 km its a piece of cake. Well its not when competing in a mountain bike competition as I was soon to learn. I seriously underestimated the event …

Some details about this B3M:

  • – 2 events – 1 day and 3 day
  • – the 3 day event is for teams and  the 1 day event for individual participation

Except for a minor part of the route the rest was a big unknown for me and I was looking forward to see what Luci prepared for us.  I’ve arrived early Saturday morning at Cheile Gradiste Fundata, found a parking place and prepare for the competition. I’ve chosen to use my Salomon back-pack since its very lightweight and it feels like a piece of clothing.  It was almost empty though since I was thinking that I will finish in 3 hours … :).  I was thinking that if I bike a 20 km in 50 minutes than naturally 60 km will be done in ~ 3h. So I didn’t take any gels with me, just the Sponser protein bar offered by the organizer in the starting kit and a bottle of water. It was my first biking competition so again I didn’t know what to expect…

Around 9 AM we’ve started …

I didn’t push it too hard and I left most of the competitors in front of me. It was a bit crowded in front and a competitor fell quite bad in the first 300 m. Anyway we’ve started to climb quite soon and slowly we’ve reached Fundata school and entered the EcoMarathon route lap 1, but in reverse… cool. I was feeling good and I’ve passed a few competitors and after a small descent the route was making a right turn. … but I didn’t. I didn’t see any marking there and I thought it continues the EcoMarathon route in reverse. Later I found out that the marking was done properly, but somebody took the sign off. Unfortunately for some of us is hard to get to the next level and they still behave like monkeys :(…. and I’ve met quite a few afterwards on the route swearing and throwing things on us. Anyway for me it was not really a problem … although I’ve lost the route I was not upset since I’ve came to this competition to enjoy it and not to be the first one from the back. The bad thing was that I’ve drag quite a lot of people after me … we were in this shit together :). After 10-15 minutes we’ve realized that the route was wrong and decided to turn back.

Soon I was back on the good track … it was greeeat. It was a mild descent where you could get quite some speed. I guess everybody enjoys the downhill biking… :). Soon I’ve reached the first serious climb of the day, the climb to Ciocanu. It was on asphalt, but that road was not used by cars in that day … nice. I was feeling great and pushed a bit on the climb. Than a long descent took me to the first hydration point in Sirnea. I was quite thirsty since it was hot outside and I was glad that I could drink something else bedsides water. After this check point it was a mild climb and than … the FUN begun!!! The route was passing through some gorge which had a loooot of water. A lot of push bike and countless crossing through the water. I was so much enjoying this that I had a stupid smile on my face quite the whole portion with water … and the funny thing its that I’ve realized this only when I was out of the gorge and the FUN area. Until now I never thought that biking can be so fun…

After another mild descent the route made a left turn (and I along with it 🙂 ) towards Magura. Niiice! However while approaching Magura my batteries were starting to run low on energy. I’ve started to push a lot the bike until finally after another technical descent I’ve reached  Prapastiile Zarmnestiului and the second hydration point.

After I had some refreshments I’ve started again to pedal. However my lower back was not really in the mood. It started to hurt and the pain increased as I was going through the gorge. Eventually I had to stop and push the bike :(. Also while approaching La Table my energy levels were quite low. I didn’t stop though … I was pushing the bike on the climbs (even the small ones) and continued. Once I was stopping the pedaling my back was not hurting anymore. Anyway while approaching the end of the last climb to Saua Joaca I’ve did it again … I’ve lost the track. This time the route was properly marked, but I was tired and not paying too much attention so I did a stupid right turn through the woods and follow a steep descent. Eventually I wondered why I was not seeing any marking so I’ve stopped and turn back. That cost me another 10 minutes :). But I was not upset, I didn’t care about the competition with the others. I was here to enjoy the event and that what I was doing. I’ve pushed the bike back into the main road and eventually after a long descent I’ve reached Sirnea again. Got some refreshments and continued on a very speedy descent, crossed the national road towards Pitesti and after a technical descent through the woods I was in front of the last climb until reaching the finish line. It was not very steep but it had4 km … after 55 of pedaling through rough terrain :).

This final climb was the piece du resistance :). Although my back was still a bit sore I wanted to finish pedaling and not pushing so I’ve gathered all my remaining energy and start pedaling hard. While I was close to the finish line I’ve switched the gears (a smaller pinion), got up from the saddle and started to push really hard. I was surprised that by changing the way my muscles were pedaling magically I’ve found new energy reserves :)… I know I’m quite an amateur in biking, next time I will approach differently this competition. Finally I’ve finished in speed the race in 5h:44 … I was very tired after the final climb but although I’ve consumed a lot of resources in this event its not as demanding as a running marathon. The bike acts like buffer between the body (specially the joints) and the terrain and after I’ve got up from the saddle I didn’t have any pain on the joints … only a sore lower back 🙂

I really enjoyed this event. It was very well organized (like any other carpathianman event). I know now that I seriously underestimated this competition and for next time I will have to put more miles on the bike to avoid the pain on my back. Also I’ll have to be more prepared with foods and drinks since as I’ve learned biking can be very demanding as well.