Transfagarasan Highway


Cycling from Brasov to Sibiu in the Transylvanian region of Romania, the jagged edge of the Fagaras mountains can be seen to the south, an almost completely smooth blue-tinged wall of mountain rising over 2000 meters into the sky.

Somewhere in between the towns of Brasov and Sibiu there is a junction, and at that junction a narrow, nondescript road runs south into the forests at the base of the mountain range. It is weird to be cycling along and looking up at the blue-gray wall of mountainside in the distance, with its jagged edge high in the sky, and know that this nondescript road goes right over the top of that ridge.

No road should ever go over a mountain range at a point like this. There is at least no practical reason. But in 1970 there was a military reason, and so it was built.

It is however, a well engineered road. The reason for all the bends and switchbacks is so that the gradient remains shallow. Never is the road a steep one. In fact it's tougher cycling in Devon in the UK with it's unfeasably steep hills than it is cycling up the Transfagarasan road.

The road is below the tree line until about 1500 meters and then it opens up and reveals itself. There are laybys on the way up, and many of them had cars with bonnet up and steam wafting up from the engine! And there was always a lingering smell of burning break pads as cars negotiated their way around the bends.

It took me 5 hours to get above the tree line where I stopped and camped for the night. I got up before all the tourists and cycled up the final ascent. And these are the photographs that I took.




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