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Old 05-04-2011, 05:58 AM   #1
2Short OP
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Joined: Nov 2010
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The Black Sea Coastline - Romania

I published this thread in Romanian, on my blog, but I thought since I enjoyed myself with your stories so much, maybe I give back to the community a little and translate my story in English. And here's my attempt.

A few days ago me and my buddy Alex decided to go on a 2 days off-road adventure.

Bearing in mind that the Carpathian Mountains were loaded with snow we turned our attention towards the Danube Delta, right next to the Black Sea. We set up a route for the day (turned out to be rather optimistic in the end).

After 2 hours of riding the Romanian-Autobahn (built with the casual Land Rover owner in mind) we quickly passed the much controversed Cernavoda nuclear powerplant and turned onto the smaller roads as soon as possible. At some point we got rather bored of the potholes in the pavement so we decided to head onto the much smoother dirt tracks next to the road, as seen below:

Our goal for the day was to pass through the Grindul Chituc Natural Park, along the coast of the sea up to a small and quiet resort called Gura Portitei, mainly reachable by boat, or so they say.

We filled our tanks just before entering the wilderness. The entrance to the natural paradise goes through a former comunist industrial compound, resembling Cernobil facility. I didn't take any photos but here's an idea:
I later read an article about it, apparently the sands in the area containted Uranium and that's what the plant was processing during Ceasuescu's reign! This was discovered after a few people making sand castles on the beach, for a long enough time, payed the ultimate price.

After trying the sands for my first time, the inevitable happened and I gently dropped my Dakar on a side. No biggie, though the real questions started just as I tried to get back into first gear and leave the place. It was all noise and smoke and all, but no wheel spin at all. WTF, that never happened to me before!? 2 phones and 3 screws later we got to the problem. Turns out when my bike fell on its side, my front chain sprocket fell off the axle as the nut unskrewed by itself. Problem was there was no nut to be found anywhere. Don't forget, we were already in the wilderness by now. I put the sprocket back on the axle and gently rode my bike 40km to the first town where I could find an auto service, all this time fearing the sprocket would fall again, get stuck, lock my rear wheel and throw me in front of a lorry, because Murphy once said so. The guys at the service helped us with the missing nut + an extra one just in case.

The Delta is renowned not only for its natural beauties but also for the traditional fish dishes you can find at the local fisheries(? not sure this word really exists). We ran into one of this about 5 km into the wilderness, just as we reached the sea shore. Seemed pretty big, lots of tables and umbrellas, not really the intimate feeling I was looking for in a traditional fishery ("cherhana" in romanian). We tried to get something to eat, as our stomach was already signalling us, but to no success, seems like the season opened 1 week later. Traditional my ass, these were just impostors trying to run a business. We spoke to the man in charge there, told him where we wanted to get to. He guided us towards the observation post on the beach to look towards the horizon and get a better look of our destination. From up there it looked like the sea, the beach and the park's vegetation all met into one point in the horizon. No signs of civilisation however. We went back to the master of the fishery and he asked us:
-Did you look?
-Well... we only saw the horizon!
-Exactly, he says, you must go as far as your eyes can see!

And... that was suppose to help us how?! We thank the man for his most valuable advice and decided to follow the beach towards Gura Portitei, as not to get lost in the Park.

This was the first time I used my bike in deep sand. The first meters were just as hard as I thought. Alex's Super Tenere was slower because of its weight and the fact that he had most of the camping gear as well. The best option was riding really close to the water, where the sand was compacted enough that the bike would not sink.
I have to admit, there's nothing like speeding your bike through the beach sand, cutting through the waves that venture unpredictably more than the others onto shore and getting sprays of water on you from head to toe.
Today's ride ended when Alex's bike decided to shut down completly. Guess all that salty water got to it. After half an hour of pushing 250kg of bike up a sand bank, 10m further from where its engine died, me managed to soak up all our equipment that wasn't already wet from the previous fun ride.
The Yamaha started only when she saw itself far enough from the water.

Till the end of the day all we had to do was: tent up, fire lit, sausages on the fire, sky full of stars, sleeeeep.

Day 2

After my mate worked on his bike for an hour or so, cleaning up the spark plugs and other minor things, we got back on the horses and continued our adventure on the beach. Again I decided to rid ourselves of the first crash of the day, when some loose sand surprised the ballance out of me and threw me in the head. Just before I got up, this big wave decided I needed washing up. Great, though this was not the problem. My issue was with one of the indestructible TT signal lights that was now barely hanging from one side of my bike. Later on he found himself resting in a pool of Poxipol in the garage. The rest of the road was without any other incidents.

At one point we were riding on a very narrow stretch of land, on one side there's Sinoe Lake and on the other the Black Sea. If the lake doesn't spill into the sea when the rainy season begins, the whole area would get flooded. For this reason, the authorities had to build a water channel between the two. The only way of crossing it is a very narrow water gate (40-50 cm wide), which has a big crane in the middle. There was no way around the crane with the bikes, but we hoped the crane operator could lift the bikes and just move them on the other side. We crossed the watergate by foot into a very small lacustrian village with a striking resemblance to Strugatsky's "Zone" (or see Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker). An old woman guided us towards the administrator of the gate. He was a very funny and sociable russian, that spent a major part of his life in that lonely village. He said he would have helped us if he could, but unfortunately the electricity is down. Bah, how long could that last?! Apparently the power was down for 20 years now! I guess long enough.
That's how we found out that the Romanian boarderline next to the Black Sea (Al Quaeda members please coninue from the next paragraph) has the complete infrastructure with electricity poles, surveillance cameras, electric fences etc. but no power . Yup, that's why we love this country, new fun facts every day.
We asked the man for his name and he said it like this:
-France, Germany, USA, Russia... England... and Spain know me as: The Parent. But my real name is Ihim, I'm russian and I've been living here since.....

Water gate over Sinoe Channel

There were only 10 km left until our destination but no way to cross our bikes. The Parent told us of another route, which we will follow another time.
We decided to go back, enter another Natural Park close by (Grindul Saiele) and reach the first greek settlement on the Romanian coastline - Histria Citadel.

On the way back we followed the road and kept off the beach, in order to cover more ground faster. This was a great opportunity to hit 70-80km/h on off road trails and feel a little adrenalin. This was no highway, as we had some watter crossings along it, I even got to film a small one. A helmet cam would've been great to get all of them.

The next Park was total chaos. We entered through a landfill behind the uranium processing facility mentioned earlier. The real proof that behind any dissapointing scenery lies some breathtaking panorama. Not really, I'm more of a mountain kind of guy, but somebody has to like the swamps too.
Here and there we could see a few sheppards guarding their sheep, while all over the place there were vehicle or carriage tracks. Seems like everyone was creating their own way through the bush. However, all of them met in one point, the crossing of the Melc Channel. A not so wide but rather deep watercrossing that stinked like swamp. We didn't realy feel like getting stuck there, mainly because today we also had 300km of road ahead of us until home and no time to dry our clothes. The weather wasn't very hot this time of the year either. We decided to get a little altitude on the hills surrounding the swamp. The fields behind the hills were of an incredible green color.

Melc Channel

After randomly running through the fields we ended up in a small village called Traian. We stopped in the middle of an intersection trying to figure out where to go next, when we suddently saw a small dark man waving at us, screaming:
-Waaait, stay with us for a while!
His name was Marcel and he liked motorcycles.
-Andrei, we shake hands.
-I like all motorcycles! Let's get you something to drink.
In front of the bar there more scooters parked and a few elders, one of them checking the bikes thoroughly and asking how fast they go. He only had a few threads of hair left while the rest of his head was visibly sweating. Then the first guy turns to me again with his hand waiting for another shake:
-...Andrei... but you already told me.
-Yes, but now it'll stick in your head.
And it did. We couldn't refuse a bottle of Fanta Madness from the locals and suddently I hear a stuffy shout behid me:
- Looook at thiiiis!! You can't hear AAANYTHING from inside here!
Apparently the old sweaty villager had taken my helmet off the handlebar and was now trying it for size and soundproofing. It was too late to do anything so I just sucked it up. There was no more sweat on his forehead when he removed the helmet, so I guess that was great. For him.


The villagers guided us towards Histria Citadel and after saying our good-byes we headed off.

Histria Citadel is a pretty well preserved arheological site. We were amazed by the shear size of the thing. It was hard not to try to imagine the buzzing life of this establishment, while walking the now grassy alleys, between the ruins of the ancient buildings.

From here on the adventure turned into a long and tiring trip home, not so pleasant because of the water in our boots and the temperatures going down as the ours went by. As a slap on the face, I realised another one of my TT signals broke down just like that! GG Touratech!
Here is a more accurate description of our route.

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Old 05-04-2011, 07:17 AM   #2
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Beatiful ride!! Thanks for the report and pics!
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:15 PM   #3
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Excellent stuff...and such beautiful countryside! Thanks for posting up your lovely photos!

I had to laugh heartily when reading about your helmet soaking up the friendly stranger's sweat

"Coffee first..."

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:11 AM   #4
2Short OP
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Thank you! Haven't been wearing that helmet without a balaclava since that event.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:09 AM   #5
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just beautiful
great pictures, and story
thanks for sharing
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
'14 R1200 GS & '14 R nineT (march, 2014)
Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
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Old 05-07-2011, 06:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for your appreciation :)
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