Into the land of Count Dracula…

July 5, 2012

This is the blog of events taken place on 8th June 2012 on the Mission : Red Planet ride.

Leaving from Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria for Romania

I had heard a lot of exciting things about Romania. It had castles, vampires and the world’s best road (as per the honchos at Top Gear) to boot. I was looking forward to it.

Lot of horse carts can be found in Bulgaria and Romania on the roads, they were banned sometime ago since they were ‘proved’ to be endangering other ‘safer’ modes of transport on the road, however one can still find them quite a lot and you can also take a ride on them in exchange of a small smile and a cigarette perhaps:

But the ride to Bucharest, the capital of Romania was not without a memorable event today. While riding on a Bulgarian country highway I saw a big monument on the top of a hill. There were tyre tracks leading upto it and I thought that this is the only way to get to it. It seemed an interesting proposition. I checked the ground quality and thought it was all grass and dirt, it wasn’t very soft, which meant that I could take the Multistrada towards the monument. I put on my GoPro and off I went. Before I started a brief thought crossed my mind. I reckoned if it would be better to take off the panniers and the top case lest the top is too steep of soft, but I didn’t give much weightage to that and I kept going. First it was the second gear, but as the incline became exponentially steep (not quite evident from the photos) I had to put the bike in the first gear with the DTC coming into play ever so often. I also became increasingly worried about getting the bike back on this steep dirt track downhill. There was no way to stop r turn back as the bike would slide down if I stopped, and it would defintely fall if I tried turning back considering the two Gs – the gradient and gravity.

Riding like a hero to the top of the hill:

Can you spot me here, perhaps not!

Looking down from where I was stuck:

After turning back and coming down:

Finally I had to stop a few metres before the monument. It was just too steep and the tracks had totally dissapeared. It looked impossible for to even get off the bike and park it on a stand due to the uneven terrain. Looked like today the bike will finally drop, and for what a reason! But I was in no mood to give up so easily. After half an hour and moving the bike at the speed of centimetres per minute I got it to an angle in which I had to trust that I will be able to diagonally roll the bike on slippery grass and mud and let it find the tracks which ended below for some traction. And that what I did. A combination of engine braking, ABA and DTC along with all my might ensured the bike was upright. After more than sixty minutes I came down and took a breather. And then I took this photo to remind me not to be so adventurous on ‘Missions’ like these:

Perhaps closer to home, but not here and not on a bike fully loaded with two panniers, a top case and a tank bag full of electronics. And not where no one can understand what you speaking!

But wait this was not it! I was back on the road and a few curves later I saw fully asphalted road leading upto, wait, the same monument which I was trying to reach from the other side of the hill! They had a full fledged tourist road going up there! I felt like a fool, but it was an adventure  not be forgotten!

Determined not to lose more time I rode non stop till I reached the Romania – Bulgaria border. I did not have a Romania national visa, nor does Romania fall into Schengen agreement. However, if you have a Schengen valid visa along with a Bulgarian national visa (the latter is not necessary, so I have heard), they will allow you to pass through. And thankfully that what happened. I was in the land of Count Dracula and I was riding towards Bucharest, the capital. But not before trying out some more off roads, but safer ones this time:

At the Romania – Bulgaria Border:

Just before Bucharest I paid a visit to Ducati Bucharest and its manager Mr.Razvan, who was very welcoming. There I met up wit another genteman and Ducatisti named Andrea on his Monster. He escorted me to my hotel inside the city.

Tomorrow there was a dinner lined up with some Romanian Ducatistis and a ducatisti guided tour of Bucharest!

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