An Undiscovered Cycling Mecca – Sibiu & its Cycling Festival
By Larisa Chinces
Sibiu – City of Culture
Sibiu is famous across Europe for its history and its historic buildings. My beautiful home city is a World Heritage Site and was the European Capital of Culture in 2007 and currently it’s still a cultural centre in Romania for travellers from all around the world. Equally important, it has a lot of great cycling trails either in the forest or outside of it. Living in such a wonderful place, so close to the Carpathian Mountains, I know that I’m lucky.
Sibiu is surrounded by 3 important mountains – Cindrel, Lotru and Făgăraș which are between 2.000-2.500m. Brașov City is nearby (about 2h drive) and has the beautiful Bucegi Mountains close by. I like that Sibiu is situated almost in the centre of the country and I can go anywhere from there. A lot of multicultural cool events happen in Sibiu and its surroundings. From year to year, the cycling comunity grows and its cycling infrastructure too – this thing makes me very happy. More and more cycling related events are taking place in and around Sibiu, so you have lot of diverse options to choose from.
Cycling Tour of Sibiu
In July every year, Sibiu hosts the UCI “Sibiu Cycling Tour”, a 4-day world standard race, with some of the best teams from around the world of cycling competing. It’s an amazing event, and it takes place at the same time as the „FITS” (Sibiu International Theatre Festival) – a famous arts festival, meaning that the historic centre of Sibiu is full alive with all kinds of entertainment activity and events. It is indeed a magical place to visit. In the Sibiu Cycling Tour, one of the stages has the finish on the famous Transfagarasan Road. Also, in the same day, before the professional teams arrive up on Balea Lake, another competition is taking place – the “Transfagarasan Challenge”.
Riding the Best Road in the World – Transfagarasan Challenge
Local people have created a closed road event for 500 ordinary cyclists from around the world to enter and race, on the morning before the top pro riders take on the challenge in the main event. Transfagarasan Challenge is a new road cycling race. It started 2 years ago, and this year it will take place on the 7th of July 2023. It’s only climb type of race, about 37km with 1570m elevation and it reaches a peak altitude of 2.042m. it is said to be “ONE OF THE TOUGHEST AMATEUR CYCLING CHALLENGES IN ROMANIA”. The landscape is amazing and the more you climb, the tougher it gets, but it’s worth every pedal! It will be a challenge with yourself and with the mountain. The route has many tough and steep turns, it is the kind of competition in which you exceed your limits. After pain and suffering and great scenery, you arrive on top at the finishline, at Balea Lake. You can rest and eat something and then watch the finish of the Cycling Tour of Sibiu.
Paltinis Challenge – for Road & MTB
The event has been so successful that the organising team have created a second closed road event for 2023 – the Paltinis Challenge, taking on the well-known mountain road that climbs from near Sibiu to the Paltinis mountains.
Paltinis is a mountain resort situated in the Cindrel Mountains, this area is dear to me because it’s in my home area and where I live. These mountains offer so many kinds of activities in every season cold or hot be it sporty, extreme, leisure and family friendly activities.
The route is 19 kilometres and 900m elevation. You have 2 option to choose the type of the race – road or offroad. I like both. Paltinis climb on road it’s also challenging even though it’s shorter than Taransfagarasan Road. Even though the route is shorter, some of the climbs are steeper than Transfagarasan. It really challenges your abilities. They both start from Gura Raului, a beautiful village close to the mountains, rich in geomorphological forms. The road goes on the Calugaru climb which joins the Paltinis road up to the top on Oncesti Mountain Resort. And the MTB route goes up the Cibin River, after the Gura Raului Dam through Cheile Cibinului – a very beautiful gorge or a little canyon. The scenery is amazing! It really makes you think if you want to go on road or rather offroad.
So, what do you think about these 2 challenges? You can even enter them both and really challenge yourself, with two of the best roads in Romania, and probably two of the best roads anywhere!
Take a Cycling Vacation to my Home – Sibiu
I don’t know if I can choose between these two, as they are special in their own way. And luckily, I can do both! The Paltinis climb on road I know like my own palm, I’ve climbed it and descend it so many times in every season – mostly with car, but I know every twist and turn and I can descend with confidence. Especially when the road is clear. The curves are very tight; tighter than on Transfagarasan. The race is only climbing, but after the climb you can descend and enjoy the adrenaline which comes with such experience. Paltinis road at the beginning is similar with Transfagarasan’s beginning, full of twisted turns and full of trees. Both routes are a great experience which you should definitely try! I hope I can attend both of the races this year, along my my friends and colleagues, Nadia and Robert!
Sibiu is a great place to stay, and one of the best tourist cities in Romania, famous across the world. As you can see, it’s also a magical place to come to for a cycling vacation too. We have an international airport, only 10 minutes from the city, lots of hotels and Airbnb options, and great restaurants too. Best of all, the temperature in July is usually in the high 20s or low 30s – so lots of sun 😊. All you need is a great bike, some climbing legs and a sense of adventure – and a Bike Box Alan too 😉. You can buy or rent one direct from BBA, or from a recognised dealer, right across the U.K. And if you don’t want to bring your own bike, you can rent one from here, from road bike to mtb and even electric ones.
Sibiu International Festival
And, when the cycling is done, there’s music almost every night on the stage in our main square, Piata Mare, if your legs are still able to dance! Come on, join me and my friends in 2023, on a Bike Box Alan assisted, cycling holiday in magical Sibiu, and take on one of these great challenges, watch world class cycling racing and chill out in the centre of historic Sibiu – an undiscovered cycling mecca!
Here you can register to the two competitions:
Transfagarasan Challenge: https://t-challenge.ro/
Paltinis Challenge: Paltinis Challenge
Here you can rent a bike box from BBA: https://bikeboxalan.com/hire/
Images courtesy of Martin and the team at Transfagarasan Challenge, Sibiu, Transylvania