Land of the strays

Trip Start Jul 04, 2013
Trip End Aug 29, 2013

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Flag of Romania  , Sibiu,
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ever since our arrival in Romania, we have encountered multitudes of stray dogs and the occasional cat or kitten. Unfortunately, one of our riders suffered a fall after being chased by a dog in a small village (no harm done to rider or bike) but for the most part, the dogs have been either disinterested or quite friendly. At most of the coffee stops and lunch stops, there's been a "mascot" for us all to shower w/ affection and provide a couple of treats. No lack of daily pet therapy. Sometimes we find a kitten or like today, a couple of young puppies on the side of the road and it's heart-breaking to leave them there. In the cities, it appears there is a program where they spay or neuter some of the dogs and tag their ears, then let them back out into the street. I've seen some of the locals providing treats for the dogs, so I guess they somehow get some nourishment. Many of the dogs walk along or sleep in the streets in small packs. Much to our dismay, they also party in packs as well. We were all kept awake last night by what sounded like a large pack barking all night long outside of our hotel.
One of our riders, Brigitta, rode in Romania last year and wound up taking 3 dogs home with her! I don't plan on picking up any four-legged souvenirs.

Speaking of Brigitta, I need to tell you about the 4 "European" riders on our tour.
Brigitta is not only a dog lover, but she is a marathon runner, cyclist, mother of 2 daughters and an IP (intellectual property) attorney. Originally from the Dusseldorf area, she now makes her home in Berlin. She joined us in Vienna and is going to have to scamper back home quickly from Istanbul for her daughter's wedding on the 30th! She's been a wonderful addition to the group and her German and French fluency have helped us several times.

Another worldly woman on our tour is Lisa. She's also the youngest (with the exception of Evan) but she's extremely accomplished! Originally from London, she has worked extensively all over the globe, including the States (she lived in Atlanta), China and Europe.
Lisa is a mechanical engineer who has done quality management and efficiency management in plants and factories all over the world. After the Tour, she'll begin a new position with EON, the largest utility company in the world. Though she will be based in Germany, she'll continue to live in Zurich and maintain a flat in London. She is incredibly bright, quick-witted, observant and ambitious. With excellent map-reading skills, she has successfully ventured off the prescribed route several times, sometimes adding more than 30k but always finishes strong. Her Jolly-Roger helmet distinguishes her on the bike. She also makes a great roommate , swim-mate and bumper-car target!

Mick is a retired teacher originally from Ireland but has lived his adult life in London. Mick has an intelligent, rapid-fire wit with a laugh that is warm, infectious and unmistakably his own. He is ALWAYS upbeat, pleasant and welcoming. He is a music fan and a traveler who has passed through Kerrvjlle, Fredericksburg and Austin while riding The Southern Tier, a transAmerican bike ride. Mick's the Real Deal and I have really enjoyed getting to know him.

Mick's brother, Patrick, joined us in Vienna from Perth, Australia where he works as a mineral processing engineer (no lack of brains on this trip!!!). Pat has cycled in Tuscany and Sicily with a group of cycling friends from back home. Pat jumped right into our group and he's been a wonderful addition. I guess I shouldn't call him a European though. Despite being born in Ireland, he's lived in Australia for 30 years. He's riding a Surrey and has had to teach that thing to climb lately. Well done, Pat!

And so we are in Targoviste after a tough ride today. At approximately 70 miles with LOTS of up-and-down climbing (8% grades), generally awful road surface (see pic), some scary traffic (including a ridiculous road-rage incident that led to us being questioned by a policeman who only spoke Romanian and French), and a dearth of potential ice-cream stops, we are all pretty tired. We'll head to Bucharest in the morning and enjoy a rest day on Thursday.
But tomorrow we ride...
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