Is Transfagarasan Highway (DN7C) the greatest ride in the world?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Stara Varos, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    Hello everyone! Im George from Thessaloniki - Greece
    :1drink

    As i registered recently i still crawl the forum, so if this RR should be somewhere else, do what u have to do
    :happay


    So, is the well-known road in Romania the greatest ride? For sure the engineers made a bikers' playground!


    ....and it goes like this:
    #1
  2. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    The «Transfagarasanul» road, as its name implies, is the highway that crosses the Fagaras Mountains - DN7C (officially called National Road 7C) and is the most famous road in Romania, perhaps Europe and well-known in the rest of the world because of the landscape variations around it. Essentially, unites Transylvania with Wallachia, but it is not only that. It is the result of the megalomania of N. Ceausescu and the road that climbs to the highest altitude in Romania, at 2042 meters near Lake Balea. The route starts from Brasov and ends at Cartisoara, crossing the European highway Sibiu - Brasov. It is 151 km long. During the winter, from November 1st to June 30th, between Negru Peak and the Balea Cascada lodge, the road closes.



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    This road is not for those who are afraid of heights, and in some places driving can become dangerous. There are large sections of road without protective barriers or next to cliffs reaching deep up to 300 meters. Also, due to heavy snowfall, asphalt is not ideal and requires increased attention.



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    When planning a route crossing the Transfagarasan, you should spend as much time as possible since parts of the road use various vehicles (often large trucks and caravans) and animal flocks. So with the steep rocks on the one side and cliffs on the other, probably is not an easy pass. If someone is in hurry and travels aiming "from point A to point B", it is better to use the E81 road, from Sibiu to Minicu Vilcea.



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    I crossed the highway from north to south, starting from Cartisoara. Its a good idea to refill your motorcycle's tank here.



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    After a light meal in the tourist restaurants and some photos, I am moving towards the foothills of the mountain, looking forward to seeing the first turns. My wishes are coming true soon and I ascend through the dense forest.



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    I was abstracted by the landscape around me, but other riders who greet me in the opposite direction, bring me back to my course. I want to stop somewhere for a few minutes and suck in the pictures that surround me, but the weather is closing and the temperature drops considerably.



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    Soon I get to a point with a lot of people and traffic. Small wooden shops with works of folk art, souvenirs and food attract many tourists.



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    I meet here two motorcyclists from Poland that later our roads cross quite often. For hikers there is also a path that leads to a point with a perfect view of the Balea Cascada waterfall. Ten minutes later I am on my way again and after a series of uphill turns, I enter the central plateau, the most photographed valley of Transgararasan.



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    I try to photograph a part of it, but I believe that no camera can capture the splendor and the impact of the landscape on the human soul.



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    I am now at a point where the clouds seem to be formed at lower altitudes than the road I drive.



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    At the top of the mountain is Lake Bilea (or Balea), a glacier lake that has unfortunately been covered by fog for most of the year.



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    During my visit I find Lake Balea in such a dense and frozen fog that I barely remain, as I can not even take a picture. Perhaps better because it has so many people there that I could not make a good shot. Here there is a restaurant and rooms where you can stay, especially if the weather is bad and you do not want to continue. Prices are quite high for Romanian standards, but justified because of the remote location. I read somewhere that many tourists come during the winter season near Lake Bâlea for climbing on ice, skiing or visiting the Ice Hotel that is being built every year by ice of the lake. A thick fog also fills the 887-meter tunnel that leads to the other side, close to the fire brigade station.



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    Driving into it the minimal visibility, darkness and my effort to leave room for the vehicles that come to the other traffic stream, make me think I travel in time. Getting out of the tunnel the weather was completely different, surprisingly warm and the atmosphere clean.



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    From this side of the mountains of Fagaras, with the successive downhill turns, I descend to Lake VIdraru.



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    I overtake the Cascada Capra cascade that goes directly from the homonymous glacier lake at the top of the mountain, as I avoid the very touristic spots. From this point many cyclists start their route down to the dam, taking advantage of the downhill.



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    Near the pretty spectacular Lake Vidraru, I meet other motorcyclists from Turkey and Poland, as well as 6-7 Greeks that I noticed earlier near the top.



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    From the dam of the lake you can choose to navigate to its right or left side to reach the town of Curtea de Arges. I choose the most established route to the dam at the bottom of the lake. The road here is even worse and I see signs for Dracula's Castle. «Hats off» to the Romanians as they manage to connect everything with the legacy of the famous Count. Perhaps this ruined castle is the closest to the myth of the bloodstained ruler. Poenari Castle. I wrote it on my list of places I will visit in the future, although I will need to climb the 1480 concrete stairs to its acropolis. From now on the road to Pitesti, where I overnight, is relatively indifferent. The monotony is interrupted by shepherds, who drive their flocks in the middle of the road, by carts and wagons. Those images of rural life carry my thoughts to similar seasons of my country's past.



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    If you have not been persuaded so far of the presenter of a well-known four-wheel English show to ride the Transgarasan Highway, I will not be able to do it. What I can add is that this is a road that every motorcyclist will surely enjoy. Personally, I focused on driving as much as possible, concentrating on my lines, to feel as close as possible to my road and motorcycle. There were times when I felt awe and fear for the road I was in, as if I were somehow inferior and the next moment the adrenaline flood in me after a quick exit from the corner. Also the self-confidence that I am driving perhaps one of the best motorcycles ever been produced. Although asphalt is of average quality at the highest points, the view is unique. The demands of driving on continuous hairpins do not allow you to observe the nature around you, so I suggest driving both directions. Firstly, north to south for the driving experience and after the opposite direction for some stops and photos.

    My complaint is that I did not take a lot of photos. However this can be a good excuse to come back!


    I believe I have had enough time to come closer to my real self. This trip really added something to my experiences and contributed to expand a little more my personal «treasure» of memories.



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    #2
  3. slowriding

    slowriding Dopeless Hope Fiend Supporter

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    Thanks for posting. I will be going next summer to ride the Transfagarasan and Transalpina roads.
    I stayed in Thessaloniki in August on my way to Turkey, nice city, great food, friendly people.
    #3
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  4. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Thank you for sharing :)

    I have done Transfagarasan and enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it's the best nor the most spectacular road to ride in Europe.
    There are several contenders to that title.

    To name a few:
    Route des Grand Alps in France.
    Road N17 in Norway.
    The Oberalp - Furka - Grimsel - Susten route in Schweiz.
    #4
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  5. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    Give me a heads up then. as i live near and maybe i ll be around!
    thanks for the read and comment bro
    #5
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  6. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    ..for sure there are and i also find both 'Trans-es' a bit.... lets say overstated.
    Thing is that the engineers made a bikers' paradise almost 2 days from where im located, so its always high on my bucket list, when i have some time off.
    Anyway, thanks for the comment and read, as is my first RR here. :nod
    #6
  7. robxxx

    robxxx Been here awhile

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    Is the Bear still up there?

    Attached Files:

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  8. alicethomas

    alicethomas Been here awhile

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    Thanks for sharing. It is for sure an impressive road.
    In terms of "greatest ride in the world" that's probably subjective.
    Personally I might miss the glaciers, extreme changes in vegetation and altitude, many turns and (day-)length of the trip.
    Großglockner-Hochalpenstrasse (Austria) or Kolli Hills (India) are 2 other famous examples with quite different characters.
    And probably a coast road (like the Atlantikveien) can be very nice too. Much impressions depend on the weather.
    #8
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  9. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    whaaaat? :eek2 Where was that?
    No, Didnt see this ' cute little' cub :-)
    #9
  10. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    Thank you all guys for the read, extra thanks to @alicethomas @robxxx @Don T @slowriding for commenting!

    Im glad u have me in this forum community, looking forward to see some of you also on the road :ricky.

    Until then ride safe and lets have a great riding new year!:super
    #10
  11. robxxx

    robxxx Been here awhile

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    Up the North side, just before the tunnel. There's a bar/restaurant/hotel, by a small lake. You go up a small road off the 7C to get to it. There was a photo shoot the day we went up. It's opposite that. Looks down over the northern side, it's where most people get the iconic photo of the road. Like a small cabin/summer house.
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    #11
  12. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    @robxxx i missed that.. it was so foggy and cold, i didnt even stop.. next time :rofl
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  13. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    ...forgot to upload a short slide show video, to complete this thread. Now is on air :)
    So, here you go :wave


    #13
  14. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    Not to mention almost anywhere in the Dolomites.

    That being said, I'm looking to rent a bike out of Bucharest for a week or so and play on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina.
    #14
  15. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    and finally a proper video :rofl


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  16. Rocky Mountain Motos

    Rocky Mountain Motos On a long leash Supporter

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    I can't think of anywhere in the world with such a high concentration of amazing roads and passas as the area surrounding Cortina. If someone else knows, please chime in!
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  17. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    For sure Italian Dolomites is an excellent network of quality asphalt roads, but the mountain passes are far shorter and far from the sense of isolation Romanian passes provide imho..

    Anyway, a pic from Giau pass, near Cortina :1drink



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  18. Rocky Mountain Motos

    Rocky Mountain Motos On a long leash Supporter

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    Beautiful photo! Giau is one of my favorites... was still buried in snow when I was there in early June.
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  19. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    Not a trace of snow by the 30th when I went over. One of the most iconic rock formations in the Alps.
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  20. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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    It does look good with a bit of the white stuff around :-)
    One late, late Sept...just short of the top carpark.

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    I could think of a few...dozen.

    All depends on personal likes/ dislikes though.
    I can well enough leave the Dolos alone for the delights of the tucked-away single-laners and gravel of the Trento, Friuli, Southern Switzerland, Northern SLO+Carinthia, the Balkans, Liguria, New Zealand (both islands), the New England "Notches" loop, Tasmania etc etc
    Ridden all those and many, many more...but I know that I "ain't seen nuthin yet".
    This is a BIG world...get out there and ride!
    #20