To the black sea #1 – 2005

To the black sea on bicycle, 300 km in one day

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The beginning should start with: “I woke up and prepared …” however
that night I did not managed to sleep much, and between the mosquito
hunts and mind storms I could count no more than a couple of hours of
rest. So, at 3 am, before the ring of the alarm I was awake and I
started making the last preparations. At 3:30 I touched the street and
started the long journey.

There is always the question about beginning: which rhythm should
I start with? If I start too hard then I will get tired soon, but to go
slow I must fight the initial urge for reaching the goal. As I was
pedaling that night, going out of the city I managed to impose myself a
slow movement: “there must be no goal to push to, I must not get tired
so soon, I must start slow”. I am pedaling with care, feeling my legs
and I imagine the machine of my body filled with sensors, the mind
monitoring each of them and detecting the level of fatigue. I must not
push hard at any point.
As I leave the city followed by some angry dogs and leave the lights
behind, my soul is getting cold, I fear the night on this road, I fear
the dogs, I fear of insuccess. Yet, if I can manage to reach the sea,
what a great accomplishment. I observe this reasoning and I see how my
mind is following it’s lanes but, contrary to the times I accepted this
wandering as natural on a bicycle ride, I decide to stop it. Each
moment I must be sure that I am not making any effort, since this
effort will bring much less than the price he will have. I force myself
not to know in which gear I am since this always brings in me the urge
to speed up, lower the gear, gain a few more km/h. I know that this
time such an approach will empty me and force me to fail. As I would
deplete my energy I would start making stops, eat a lot of energy bars,
fueling a fast fire which would quickly loose its energy.

There should be nothing behind and nothing ahead, no road, no
plans, nothing. And at each moment I must listen to my legs and breath
then change the gear accordingly. I forget the computer and do not look
at it, I forget the gear in which I am and only switch it based on the
current state of my body.

The night is still around me on this badly illuminated road and I
pass from time to time big storage places. I imagine the dogs guarding
them and hope they are asleep. Sometimes, within large intervals, a car
passes as I stop pedaling and stick to the right most side of the road.

“i o ma, i a mo”, I am here, in this moment, I inhale and exhale
regularly, I feel my legs in good shape, there is no goal and no speed,
“i o ma, i a mo”.

Light emerges at the horizon and around me shadows are
disappearing. As I pedal I know my speed has increased as the muscles
are getting used to the movement, but until now I forced myself not to
look the computer screen. I take a look, I am at 28km/h, around 40 km
on the road. I do not know the gear in which I am and I do not want to
know, there is little effort in the pedaling. I inhale and exhale, “i o
ma, i a mo”.

The sun raises, I stop for a moment to take a photo, the road is
deserted, asphalt is good. I grab my first pack of “papagal” jelly to
eat it on the road. From my last trip, by car, 2 years ago, I remember
a bad portion of the road, would that be fixed by now? The roads are
not always good and such a problem could slow me down. At each pedal
and each misplaced rock the bike and my soul would be hurt. I inhale
and exhale, “i o ma, i a mo”, and from time to time I eat a jelly.
There is no rush, I feel the sugar candy melting in my mouth, there is
no rapid fire here, yet a steady one is burning in my blood.

I am passing Ileana.

With one package of jelly the sun is now fully up, I look at the
time. The mind wakes up with plans and dead-lines, when will I be in
Lehliu? what speed do I have? I inhale and exhale, my legs are fine, “i
o ma, i a mo” there is no rush.

I remember this curve of the road, I am approaching Lehliu, I
inhale and exhale, “i a mo, i o ma”. What is that? What happened? Am I
up, am I down? “i a ma, mo, i o”? I feel … “i o ma, i a mo” ok. I am
pedaling on this road, the sun is here, and the trees, people are
fishing in a little pond.

buf, buf, buf … this asphalt is of a different nature, with
thousand of little rocks inside, probably for better adherence. I look
at the mp3 player I bought specially for the bike rides. Yet I cannot
leave the moment and use it, my mind cannot yet leave the legs pedal on
their own, “i o ma, i a mo”, I inhale and exhale.

People, lot of them, cars, and dust, even a donkey and sheeps. I
reached the point near Drajna where the autoroute is ending and all
cars are switching to the road I am on now. Vrum, vrum, vrum, cars are
driving with speed to my left, they still have the autoroute speed in
their system. And trucks, I hate trucks from the opposite sense, the
wave of air and dust they create hurts me. “i a, i o”, my water is
nearly gone, I am still so far away, lost …

The phone rings, the girls woke up around 7 and took the autoroute, they wanted to know if I am ok: vrum, vrum ….

Cip, who could not make this journey warned me about this portion
of the road: long, narrow and with no water. I still have half of a
bottle yet is getting hotter and I already eat a mars bar and another
jelly pack.

“i a mo, i o ma”, the cars are more silent now, the trucks more
rare. I inhale and exhale and look at the markings: Fetesti 30 km. “i a
mo, i o ma”, Fetesti 20 km.
I am glad to find a bottle of cold water for 30lei at 12 km from
Fetesti at a truck stop. The drivers, sitting and talking at a table
look curiously at me. Sweating, black cycling pants, gray t-shirt with
a bunch of nods I made to reduce wind resistance and a gray, fisher
like hat. What a seeing. I am not staying for long, I inhale and
exhale, “i o mo, i a ma” continuing my journey.
Fetesti, until here the road was excelent, now I must head to the
autoroute, will I be able to ride it? Hopefully I find it in repairs,
cars are using only one lane and there are plenty of riders with those
old bikes you can find anywhere. I am stopping to make photos of the
bridge over the Danube.
I inhale and exhale, the air is hotter yet my legs are still in good
shape, “i o ma, i a mo”, there is a descent to Stefan cel Mare.
Hopefully I do not have to climbe this at the return.

It’s hotter and my computer screen does not work anymore, I can
only estimate a 30 something speed. Now the road is different, with ups
and downs, I change the gear frequently yet I do not want to know in
which gear I am. There is no reason for that, in this moment, and
exactly in this moment, I am pedaling, and I do not need to make any
effort, there must be a gear change anytime the fine sensors feel the
muscles pushing harder.

“i o ma, i a mo”, I inhale and exhale, there is heat, I can
estimate a speed around 40 on some descents. The phone rings, the girls
are behind me, they have reached me near Castelu. Irina is waving her
hand at me. A deserved pause. I refill the 2 bottles I have, and eat
some dutch cookies. They continue their road and I remain at the bottom
of a hill.

It’s so hard to start from the bottom, and I must control my urge
to impress as they are still in sight. Yet I inhale and exhale, “i o
ma, i a mo, i a mo, i o ma”, the moment is of pedaling and there is no

As I pass Valu lui Traian my body starts to hurt, the road is now
in pieces formed of blocks of concrete with 2 meters in length and with
2-3 cm of empty space between. I must break often and drops of pain are
hurting my soul and mind. “i o ma, i o ma, i o ma …”

From Constanta the road is better yet the sun is up, there is so
hot, my mind is orange in heat. I stopped eating anything when the bar
I tried to open melted away. Each gas station is a heaven and I stop
often to refill the bottles. There is no pain in the legs yet a warm
bath of it is all around me. I go up and down with the road, switch
gears, inhale and exhale, “i o ma, i a mo”. At this point I could not
think even if I wanted to. I feel my body with each nerve as the pain
in my back grows.

A gas station… and another… no stop, just water, coke, 7up,
something cold
Finally I reach Mangalia, “i o ma, i a mo” floats around the road as my
body is melting down. All problems from the job, tasks and projects I
started with are somewhere on the road behind, forgotten in the dust. I
could ride like that another 100 km as it would be like 10.
“i o ma, i a mo, i a mo, i o ma”, inhale, exhale, left leg, right leg.
2 mai, vama veche. I call Cip to tell him the news, I arrived. It’s
15:00. I pack the bike in the trunk of the parked car to avoid curious
looks, change myself in the tent and go end my journey in a soup
(“ciorba de burta”) at scoica.

When the heat decreased and the computer screen was on again I could see the numbers: 299km, 29km/h avg speed.

13 Responses

  1. i’m glad that i read your’s good to know that there are people who do something like this, using the bike on such distances.

  2. Bravo pentru reusita ! Ti-o spune unul care stie cat de greu este sa ajungi la mare prin forte proprii (fara masina sau tren) intr-o singura zi!

    In august asta mi-am propus si eu acelasi lucru, numai ca mai am de lucru la dotari tehnice si la pregatire fizica …

  3. Cu toate ca este de anul trecut, nu pot sa nu te felicit chiar si acum pentru reusita. Mai stiu si de altii care au facut Bucuresti – Constanta in 11 ore, si am tot respectul si pentru ei. Mie imi este inca frica sa fac un asemenea drum, pentru ca niciodata nu am depasit 100 Km (ce-i drept, integral cu dealuri) intr-o singura zi. De obicei nu ma intind mai mult de 90~95, dupa care desi simt ca as mai putea continua, sunt totusi obosit. Privind istoric la competitii sau evenimente legate de ciclism de distanta lunga, nu poti sa nu observi ca in final nici nu conteaza asa de mult bicicleta, cat cel din sa; cat de curajos este el, cat de pregatit si mai important cat de mult se cunoaste si se respecta pe sine. Nu oricine poate asa ceva, si din pacate nici nu pot aprecia, insa experiente de tipul acesta le faci pentru tine si conteaza foarte mult, iar la final te poti bucura ca nu esti un oricine, ca ti-ai invins limitele si ca ai reusit.

    Inca o data, sincere FELICITARI!

  4. Multam Andrei insa in din pacate in ultimul timp, in special dupa niste probleme cu genunchii, n-am mai facut nimic spectaculos, am ramas blocat in mizeria din jurul Bucurestiului. Mi-ar place insa sa gasesc motivarea sa mai fac o data asta. E doar o chestie de minte pana la urma.

  5. Am citit despre problemele cu genunchii si m-a intristat foarte mult. Imi (iti)doresc sa se rezovle cat mai repede si mai bine pentru a-ti recapata capacitatea sportiva. Oricum, pentru mine conteaza foarte mult momentele de reusita ale cuiva si nu le pot uita atunci cand vin perioade mai proaste. La americani, cineva care a fost presedinte candva este numit "presedintele _X_" tot restul vietii si chiar dupa, un campion ramane "campionul _X_" si nimic nu schimba acest lucru. In Romania poate ca lucrurile nu stau la fel, dar ar fi de dorit sa se schimbe in mai bine, din fericire inca nu am inceput sa retragem chiar toate titlurile celor pe care-i respectam si mai pastram un oarecare nivel de decenta in privinta aceasta.

    Eu iti port respect si iti urez multa sanatate, sa te faci bine si sa mai poti descrie si alte trasee interesante.

    Toate bune,


  6. Sincere felicitari!

    E o mare realizare, mai ales ca ai reusit o medie de 29km/h la o distanta de 300 Km.

    La mine cea mai maire distanta parcursa intr-o zi a fost de 180 Km.

    Ce fel de bicicleta ai folosit, MTB sau cursiera?

    Foarte frumoasa si descrierea.

    PS: am vazut ca articolu e de ceva vreme, insa eu abia acum am dat de el.

  7. Multam, cu cursiera. Nu cred ca as putea face ceva de genul asta cu MTB-ul. Am reluat traseul si anul asta, e un link tot aici pe site.

  8. […] Jennings – Lyly Pham – Marilen Corciovei – John Watson – Andy Temkin – Chicken Kid – […]

  9. […] Following tat this summer, i was described as beeing “zen” by a good friend of mine, who declared that had been “zen” after going on bicycle from Bucharest to the sea side in one day. […]

  10. What? 299 km? That is so much to me. My personal record is 165 km and I’m seriously thinking about to participate in my first Audax ride: 200 km. But I have only a mountain bike and kind of bike isn’t good enough to ride.

    Happy New Year!


  11. @Renato: everything is a matter of training and of the mind, I am sometime happy of doing 10 or 20 km’s. I wish you also a happy new year and a lot of cycling memories.

  12. Salut,
    Mă bucur că în sfîrşit am dat din nou peste blog-ul tău. Postul ăsta a fost oarecum un imbold să facem şi a doua oară drumul la Vamă. Era atunci în limba română, o variantă mult mai… personală. Oricum, bine că e online din nou.
    Felicitări pentru reuşitele cu bicicleta!

  13. Salut Valentin, ma bucur ca a folosit la ceva povestea mea si te felicit ca ai ajuns la mare. Imi pare rau ca ti s-a furat bicicleta si din pacate toti am trecut prin asta. Sper sa gasesti o noua bicicleta cat mai repede care sa te duca cel putin la fel de bine ca ceva veche. Toate bune, Len :)

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