Strategica – cycling at 2000 m in the Latoriței Mountains

By far the most difficult, the best and the most complex MTB tour we ever did! Strategica was on our radar for at least 2 years but in August 2016 we managed to do this amazing track 😊
Strategica (aka The Strategic Road) crosses the ridge of the Latoriței Mountains. It starts from the already famous Transalpina Highway and ends in the Voineasa mountain resort.
We cycled on the most spectacular and highest section of this great road on top of the mountains.

Brief useful information:
Date: August 2016
Route: Ciungetu – Petrimanu Lake – Galbenu Lake – Latoriței Mountains ridge – Plaiul Poienii Cottage – Rudăreasa Valley – Ciungetu
Distance: 59 km
Slope+ 1400 m/ – 1400 m
Duration: 11 h (breaks included)
Difficulty:  very difficult (10/10)
we went to the left (towards Petrimanu & Galbenu Lakes) and came bake from the right (on the Rudăreasa Valley)

At 7.45 AM we started off on a very challenging track and we were expecting it to be difficult. We left the village of Ciungetu at the crossroad of the roads going to Petrimanu Lake (to the left) and the road coming from the Rudăreasa Valley (to the right).

We chose the direction towards Petrimanu Lake since it’s an easier but longer slope and if we were to go on the Rudăreasa Valley the slope would have been steeper but it would have been shorter. Our option was the best!
Slowly but surely we climb on the beautiful valley leading to the 2 lakes (Petrimanu & Galbenu). The steep rock walls that surround the valley and the narrow road are quite a sight. Even though we were expecting a heat wave this valley was very, very cool. Perfect for cycling uphill 😋

The slope is pretty easy and the only steep sections can be found 1-2 km before reaching the dams of the 2 lakes. Before reaching Petrimanu Lake we pass by a beautiful waterfall, Apa Spânzurată (Hung Water waterfall). It’s 5-6 meters high.
We reach Petrimanu Lake after about 2 hours. You can reach this place by car since there is still bits of tarmac left on the road. On the way up here we fight with 2 flat tyres which furthermore get us behind our schedule 😋

From Petrimanu Lake until Galbenu Lake we do 30 more minutes after which we have to descent down to the creek. We’ll have to cross it and reach a trail in the forest which climbs up to the ridge.

Pay attention! We lost the track here and you shouldn’t cross the creek on the wooden bridge in the image below. You should go upstream for about 100 m and then cross the creek and you should see the trail in the forest going steeply uphill.
We lost the track and we almost gave up. It was getting very late and we lost at least 30 minutes searching for the right way. Finally, we found it after crossing a very thick forest where we scratched ourselves, our equipment, bikes and so on. But we found it. That’s all what matters! 😋

The trail leading up to the mountain ridge is simply criminal! We had to do the worst push-bike ever on a 20% average slope which also has several parts with a slope that is over 30% steep! It was a killer this one.

Although this steep climb is only 2.5 km long we finished it in over 2 hours! That’s when we reached the ridge 😕

Basically it was a good decision to do this circuit in this direction since this part is almost impossible to go downhill on. It’s very steep and has many displaced rocks.
Our morale got a huge boost when we got out of the forest and reached the mountain ridge! It was like we were doing push-bike for ever. However, very slowly, but surely we managed to reach the top of the mountain.

Here we met with the road we were preparing for: Strategica! 😊

We turn right towards Ciungetu and Voineasa on the most spectacular section of this road on top of the mountains!
If you’d turn left you’d reach the famous Transalpina Highway (the highest road in Romania). It’s just 6 km away from this point.

Somewhere behind us we see the chairlifts from Transalpina Ski Resort and after a little while the beautiful panorama towards the Vidra Lake opens before our eyes. This road is excellent, very relaxing and of course, spectacular! We’re at almost 2000 meters altitude.
The feeling of cycling on this road is truly unique. You simply calm down once you reach this place. You have beautiful panoramas and extremely spectacular sights. It’s like being in a dream to be honest, cycling in peace and quiet on top of these mountains and the beautiful valleys down below.

We were only suppose to be on this road for 12 km on top of the mountains but it really seemed never ending, in a good way 😋 An incredible experience!
With a last bit of effort we climb towards the climax of this adventure. After loosing the track, having to fix the flat tyres, the gruelling push – bike and loosing a lot of time, we finally reach the 2000 meters barrier and this is the place where we see the Vidra Lake for the last time. And what a view! 😊

We stop here to rest, to admire the beautiful panorama and to prepare for the amazing descent back down to Ciungetu via the Rudăreasa Valley.
After reaching the 2000 meters mark we had to drop 1400 m in altitude! Ciungetu is at 600 m altitude and in front of us we had the most incredible downhill we ever did, 20 km long!

This descent is hard to describe in words. It was so full with adrenaline and joy! It’s pretty technical especially because we raced down with over 44 km/h! We recommend doing this descent through the Rudăreasa Valley. You’ll never forget it!

Half way down we stopped for water at the Plaiul Poienii Cottage. A good thing to know is that you won’t find any water on the ridge and we were very, very dehydrated. Next time we know to bring much more water 😋


Our route on the map:

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