Between bears and wolves. A Roller Skiing tale from Harghita, Transylvania (En Route to Vasaloppet 2018, day 90-106)
This is a training diary from Judetul Harghita, Romania.
Since we were going to a wedding in Gyöngyis home county of Harghita, Romania, I saw the opportunity to get a bit of mountain climbing in on the RollerSafe and to more thoroughly test the braking ability in rougher terrain with steep decents.
After some 2000 km of driving we finally arrived Sunday the 18th of June. The first night I recorded wolves howling in the night. Then you know you are in Transylvania. It is in many ways a legendary countryside. Definitely worth a visit for both sightseeing and training. When the day temperature reaches 30+ degrees celcius a visit to the Septimia Resort is a pleasant way to relax after a hard workout.
The first training day after we arrived was Monday. We had been out scouting the terrain and found that going up was ok but down was risky business at many places due to bad road conditions as well as some dangerous descents with blind spots and foliage covering the visibility. One more danger was the hazardous driving that many locals exercise. It was very warm during the day so I waited until the evening. Less heat and less traffic. Win-win.
From the heart of the small village of Bikafalva at the panzio Vadrozsa there is a road going up past the house of my parents in law. It goes up a couple of kilometers averaging 7% with the steepest parts being 500 meters of 10% and about 200 meter of 11%. I went up and down halfway to test the brakes. I was almost chickened out since the brakes was set at 30 kg and I caught a bit of speed on the way down the first half. Up top I went over to the next village and back and forth a couple of times to reach about 9-10 km. On the way back the clock had turned 9:30 p.m. I walked down from the top where it was steepest. On my way down on foot I heard some ruckus from the bushes and trees down the valley and a large huff followed by commotion of something jumping through the shrubbery. I walked a bit faster down from there as that could only be one animal. A brown bear. The cows are led down from the mountain at about 7-8 p.m., so definitely no cow. The following days we heard of numerous incidents with a mother bear coming into the villages with her two small cubs to search for chicken and honey. One night she made a spectacle when one of her cubs was stuck in one garden while she and the other cub went into the next doors. So that was it. No more roller skiing after sunset.
This however would be my main route the following two weeks as we had so much to do that I had to try to get my training out of the way during the morning. Next day it was already very warm and dry when I went out. After a couple of descents the housing of the brakes were so warm that I burned my thumbs touching them. No problem with the functionality though. After setting the weight to 50 kg they were braking like a dream and I had no problem going downhill all the way from the top. I reported this to Rolf Arne and Jon from RollerSafe and got some witty comments back on using one ski for frying eggs and the other for bacon. 😉
I got to do a bit of commercial activity too as one of our friends (see gallery) from the village wanted to test the RollerSafe. His first time out resulted in only one fall and he quickly learned to use the brakes and thought they were pretty fun to roll. I generally got a lot of positive feedback from people seeing me out rolling.
The heat was getting worse towards the end of our stay. I was out driving to see if I could find some other spots and I have some ideas of where to go next time we visit – and where not to go, at least not to go downhill. There are some places around Odorheiu Secuiesc where the downhills are like 20% with no hairpin turns, just straight down for stretches of 5-6 km. Also a lot of steep descents into small villages makes for some danger. There are however places with good road surface where it is possible to train up- and downhill without it being too risky. At 5-800 meters over sea level with climbs of 5-10-20% the area is perfect training for Vasaloppet. If you want hairpin turns and want to spin the mountain bike or road bike there are also many great mountains around Harghita with some surpassing 2.000 meters. Harghita Madaras with its 1801 meters is within 70 km.
The last two days I went into Odorheiu Secuiesc to train around the park area. It was reaching 38 degrees celcius outside and I wanted to do a couple of flat workouts. The shape is good. I had some nice benefits from the climbs. When we got back home I had done close to 100 km of roller skiing on Romanian soil. Feeling good! Blood sugar is at 7 is morning. I will miss the mountains until next time!