A really great bike circuit we recommend: The junction to Cerna Village – Lacul lui Iovan (Iovan's Lake) – Baia de Arama city – The junction to Cerna Village.
Three years ago we reached the dam at Lacul lui Iovan (Iovan's Lake) by car and then 2 years ago we reached it by bicycle. Ever since we thought a great trip would be to go on the side of the lake with our bikes. We have heard from friends that the sights were beautiful and that the road delivered a nice / not so demanding off-road experience.

Where do we sleep?

Because we didn't wish to return on the same road we chose to do a circuit which involved sleeping one night at a midpoint. It was pretty tricky finding an accommodation facility as there are not many available. We didn't want to sleep in our tent as that would have meant to carry it and all other gear for the whole trip. Also, in my opinion, it isn't the safest to leave your bike next to your tent in Romania, in the middle of nowhere. After thoroughly searching the Internet we found only one option and if that wasn't good enough all we had to do was to wait until someone opens up other hotels there. This particular area is not very touristic.
We found Alunelu Guesthouse, so we gave them a call and booked a room. We were pleasantly surprised by the overall quality, tidiness and by our host's good spirit. I warmly recommend the accommodation in case you opt to do this circuit. In just a few words, the guesthouse has a total capacity of 16 people and they can accommodate six more persons in small two person houses and the prices range between 75 lei up to 120 lei per night for a double room. The place has no restaurant but they do have a shared dining and kitchen area. We had no mobile network coverage there and also their WI-FI wasn't working. The overall experience was great and the host also offered a safe storage place for our bikes overnight.

The track and the story

Because we had a lot of time on our hands we left home pretty late in the direction of Cerna Valley, at about noon. As usual, we slept in the camping next to Dumbrava Motel, where the owner of the land has started building an actual camping ground. We chose to sleep next to the car because of obvious reasons, our bikes were inside and we didn't want to wake up not having them anymore. The rest of the day we did some yoga, caught up on some reading and general relaxation.
The next morning we woke up and it was pretty chilly but we got the blood pumping in short time as we hurried up to gather all our gear and to drive to the starting point of our circuit.
Where we parked the car we found a large group of puppies and two parents that were looking at us with curious eyes as we were preparing our bikes. They barked at us for some time getting closer and closer but all they wanted was to have fun. When we started pedaling they started running after us but soon gave up and went on their way.
We made our way to Cerna village and on the way we had 1 thousand stops as the sun was starting to heat up the day and we had a good amount of thick clothes on us that needed to go.
As a side note, we noticed that the road is in a better condition compared to years back when there were actual craters everywhere and your average car speed would be 15 km/h.

After the village road is perfect: gaining altitude, made out of large concrete slabs and zero traffic. The landscape still looks the same as we remember it from the trip we did here a few years back. It looks like there are no more tree trunks on the side of the road but I not sure this is a sign deforestation has completely stopped in the area.
After climbing the first hill as you are leaving Cerna village behind you can do a small stop for some pictures and a panorama over the valley.

We are leaving the dam behind and with it the asphalt road as we are making our way on the sides of the lake through the forest.

The road is excellent for some two-wheel off-road. The way is wide, with no traffic and under the watchful eye of the forest that offers shade and lots of peace and quiet. The ascent is pretty easy and that can only be a good thing.

We are really excited about this trip as it is one of the last if not actually the last bike trip for this year.

It sucks when someone is ruining your pictures! :))

Ok…Let's do a decent one too!

Because it was really cold in the morning our tent didn't have enough time to dry up and as such, we had a late start. We should have hurried more in the morning so we wouldn't do it in the evening. Eventually, we notices that the day was coming to an end and we still had some way to go and even though we had headlamps we didn't wish to ride during the night, so we picked up the pace. Luckily for us, all the remaining way was downhill and it was not difficult at all, unluckily for Karina I think she had a stiff posture on her bike which ended up with a mild ache in her left knee. Hmmm…

Eventually, we reached Valea Mare village and we started searching for our accommodation. We did it on foot as we reached an area with not so bike friendly dogs. We met quite a bunch of them but it was good, they seemed pretty harmless.
We finished the first day of our tour with 8 hours of pedaling and 60 km in length on a track that isn't very demanding and that is just perfect for a late autumn ride. PS: There are no water sources on the way so you need to carefully calculate the amount you need.

Day 1 summary

  • Distance: 60 km
  • Time: 8 ore 18 minute
  • Riding time: 6 – 7 ore
  • Altitude difference: +/- 1000 m
  • Altitude: 350 – 1000 m
  • Max speed: 42 km/h
  • Average speed: 7.3 km/h

GPS Track
After eating dinner at the guesthouse it didn't took us long to fall asleep pretty exhausted after the day. The next morning greeted us with sun and clouds so we packed and started on our way as we still had 60 km until reaching our car, at least it was asphalt all the way.

We safely avoided the same dogs and we cough on some speed as it was downhill. After about 10 km Karina started to feel an ache in her left knee… not good. By the time we reached Baia de Arama city she was in some serious pain. There was no point in backing up because anyway we had to reach the car.
Our speed dropped hard and we started ascending either on the bike or off it, Karina started getting pretty upset. At some point just before the final ascent when we stopped for a break a dog came to us. We couldn't really say if it had good or bad intentions and we don't it knew either as he seemed friendly but when you weren't looking at him he was trying to bite our legs. He followed us for a few kilometers but eventually I think he got bored and abandoned the chase.

The last section was pure downhill stretching over 15 km and descending from 1000 m to about 500 m. Woohoo! It was great even for Karina and her sore knee. Finally, we reached the car after 6 hours. All our plans to sleep one more night in our tent and to go to for midnight dip in the thermal waters got scattered as we decided to drive home. Later on the result for Karina was: one-month recuperation and physiotherapy… well, see you later guys! 🙁

Day 2 summary

  • Distance: 58 km
  • Time: 6 ore
  • Ridding time: 3 – 4 ore
  • Altitude difference: +/- 1000 m
  • Altitude: 500 – 1000 m
  • Max speed: 63 km/h
  • Average speed: 9.5 km/h

GPS Track