Transzărand by MTB

One of our passions is biking on the road, in the forest, on the hills, in the mountains. Basically anywhere where balance on two wheels is possible. We have many posts about biking coming up and I can’t wait to share them with you 🙂 Our bike tour today is taking place in Arad county, between Julița and Gurahonț

And because autumn is coming I thought I share with you our trip form the autumn of 2013. This road crosses the Zărand Mountains from south to north. I named it Arad’s Transfăgărășan. It’s a spectacular road, freshly modernised, tight corners, dense forests. This is the reason why we wanted to do this route in the autumn. The forest’s saturated colours are hypnotic as you’ll see for yourselves in the photos below.

Sunrise ovet the  Zărand mountains

Brief useful information:

Date: October 2013
Route: Julița – Slatina de Mureș – Mădrigești – Gurahonț
Length: 40 km
Duration: 3 h (including a lot of break)
Level difference: +430 m/-400 m
Difficulty: medium
Road: modernised, tarmac only

cold sunny morning

We woke up early in the morning and began our day with a train ride from Arad train station to Vărădia de Mureș station. At 6 AM we were already on the platform waiting for our friend to come. They have a habit of being late so I was pretty sure we were going to miss the train. But they came on time, we loaded our bikes in the wagon and all four took a seat. One of the bad thing about using the train when you have bikes is that the wagons are not fitted with special places for keeping the bikes, so we always have to struggle to find a place where they don’t bother anyone. That place is usually in the back of the last wagon 🙂

full speed ahead, Șoimoș citadel on the top left

Some of us fell asleep until Vărădia de Mureș station where we had to get off. You have plenty of time for sleep since it takes about 2 hours… Romanian Railways… At least the scenery is wonderful. We’re going on the Mureș valley. I couldn’t sleep. I was amazed by the beautiful sunrise and the bright autumn colours. 

straight ahead

The Zărand mountains – brilliant for trekking, mountain biking & cross-country running

We’re from Arad, we live in Timișoara but we come home every weekend since it’s so close. So, for us, the Zărand Mountains are like our back yard and we’ve done many thrilling bike tours in these small mountains. They’re quite small since the top altitude is 799 meters, Highiș peak. However, these mountains are perfectly suitable for mountain biking. They have a lot of trails, a lot of steep climbing, steep descents. They’re rocky, lots of forests and huge distances to cover. You don’t get bored here very fast, that’s for sure. They are suitable for everyone, from amateurs to professionals.

The best known places are Șiria and Lipova. The first is famous for its vineyards and the latter for its mineral water springs. Both have citadels on the hill tops but only ruins remain. So it’s quite a nice are to come to and we are trying to promote the Zărand mountains as a place for adventure tourism.

Arad’s Transfăgărășan

This county road, technically speaking it’s the DJ 707C + DJ708, was modernised in 2011 and it represents an impeccable job. Well done to the constructors! It start from the village of Julița and crosses the Zărand Mountains through the villages of BaiaSlatina de Mureș, Mădrigești and finally reaches Gurahonț.

We start at an altitude of 150 meters and the highest point we’ll get to is at 580 meters altitude. So we have a bit of climbing ahead of us. The good news is that the first part of this route is pretty gentle. The steepest climb lasts for about 7 km and is at the centre of our route. Here the tight corners start, Transfăgărășan – style 🙂 We mainly climbed off the bikes here because it was too steep.

Arad’s Transfăgărășan
hair pin corner

We were lucky enough to get a wonderful day, blue sky, shining sun, autumn colours, about 20 degrees Celsius. Just perfect for biking. On the first part of the track we were averaging 15 km/h. It’s very good that this road is not very busy. We only saw 5 cars in total 🙂 You have time to admire nature and how wonderful it is out here!

Arad’s Transfăgărășan
lunch break
Arad’s Transfăgărășan

Actually we came here for something else. We were waiting for the 15 km long descent towards Gurahonț. As we were climbing the steep part we hoped the descent would begin after the next corner, but it wouldn’t… Finally though we reached the start of the descent. First part of it is pretty steep down hill and we hit a top speed of 58 km/h. Our average during descent was 30 km/h. To sum it up: adrenaline and joy! 🙂
The corners are pretty wide so you don’t need to brake to hard and there is basically no upcoming traffic. So all the road is yours and that’s fun! Some portions of the descent are through the forest and it was quite a big surprise to be freezing because we were going at pretty high speeds and the shadow provided by the forest meant that these areas were much more colder. Not to self: bring thicker clothes for these sections 🙂
everyone minding their own business

The hardcore descent end in Mădrigești. We took a break here in order to have a cool down. We were extremely enthusiastic and we loved every second of it. It was brilliant! We want more! We stopped on the side of the road under some old walnuts. We gathered some nuts and we re hydrated. 10 minutes break, enough to get us going until Gurahonț on a gentle descent. Time to admire the sun bathed forests and clam of this place.

walnuts & autumn
our bikes

bikes resting

Shortly after the break we were in Gurahonț. Like a walk in the park. In Gurahonț we stopped at a wanna be fast-food and we ate what seemed to be safer to eat… Also, we thought we deserved a beer 🙂 We reached Gurahonț earlier than we expected so we had to wait a bit for the train, so plenty of time to rest. It was a fantastic bike tour, we were all joking and laughing 🙂

Gurahonț train station
Gurahonț train station
Gurahonț train station



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