Mountain biking round the Piatra Craiului Mountains

As we were losing sight of each other in the thick clouds of dust rising from the road each time a truck drove by, we were beginning to wonder what on earth where we doing here. Wouldn’t it have been better if we had just stayed at home? Hmmm…. Good question. No! Staying home is never an option.

Once we reached our first pit stop we knew we were up for a great adventure. We caught our breath in the parking space at the Plaiul Foii Chalet, or better said, we tried to evacuate all the dust we inhaled. From here there were no more cars. The road entered the forest and we thanked god for the shade, as it was already getting hot. It was August so what were we expecting? After another ten kilometers we planned our second pit stop at the abandoned buildings of an old forest district, Rudărița. Just as we got off the bikes we saw movement in one of the houses. We took a better look and saw carts, chainsaws and gasoline canisters all around the yard. Two woodcutters stepped out, all covered in grease and who knows what else, looking very much like the orcs from Lord of the Rings. Maybe stopping here wasn’t such a good idea. We decided to move on, as fast as we could, until we felt safe enough to take a break. Only problem was that the road had been washed away and we had to push our bikes through a river bed, getting our feet all wet. Not exactly our idea of hurrying up. Thankfully, no one followed us to chop our bodies and eat us raw. And we were finally out of the water, in front of a signpost, having a bite of chocolate before the ascent. Again we pushed our bikes up on the path all the way to the Lerescu ridge, following a red line sign. Once we reached the top we had to leave the marked touristic route and go in the opposite direction to find a dirt road that would take us down to the Pecineagu Lake. We hopped on our bikes and at the next curve there it was. The large lake mirrors all the forests around it and the high Făgăraș Mountains. It was so close and on this pretty steep slope it seemed like we were going to dive right into it at any moment. The view wasn’t the only attraction. The entire hill was covered in raspberry. We couldn’t just pretend it wasn’t there so we lost about half an hour munching on the delicious ripped fruit.

The descent went on fast and we were already standing on the dam of the Pecineagu Lake. From here we barely got off our saddles all the way to the southernmost point of our trip, Podul Dămboviței village. It was hot and dusty and we ran out of water, due to… let’s say a miscalculation. It wasn’t until we reached the village and the paved road that we found out what it means to really suffer from thirst and heat. It felt like someone just hit us on the head and that lousy kilometer we spent on the asphalt seemed like an eternity. After three consecutive juices I felt like I was reborn. All my strength returned.

From Podul Dambovitei we had to turn north again and head back toward the mountain. We headed out to Dâmbovicioara, a small village on the bottom of a valley. The slopes began to tighten around us and we found shade. It was divine. We had another juice at Brusturet Chalet. We still had about a third of the entire trip ahead, but we already knew these places from our mountain biking trip through the Four Villages. A bit of ascent on the dirt road to La Table crossroads, then down on the path to the Zărnești Gorges.

85 kilometers after leaving our house we were having a well deserved beer at Gura Râului Chalet. We were back in Zărnești, the air was cooling down, we had nothing left to do but think back on our little adventure and taste the small victory of taking on yet another challenge.

The route took us round the Piatra Craiului Mountains on our bikes. We started out from Zărnești and took the road to Plaiul Foii. From here we continued toward the Făgăraș Mountains, passing by Rudărița, then on the Lerescu ridge-Pecineagu LakePodul Dâmboviței village-Dâmbovicioara village-Brusturet ChaletLa Table crossroads-Zărnești GorgesZărnești.

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