Transfăgărășan Challenge 2023
The Countdown to Adventure Begins
Welcome to Sibiu
If you still don’t know where the Transfăgărășan Highway is, and that it’s described by many as ‘the best road in the world’, then give your head a shake please!
This epic ribbon of tarmac, winds its way chaotically across the mountains, close to the historic city of Sibiu, in Transylvania, Romania – itself a World Heritage Site. Yes, this medieval city, which was the 2007 European city of Culture, has so much to see and to do on a trip here. All that you need is a sense of adventure, and Sibiu will do the rest – especially cycling-wise!
When we look around the world of cycle tourism, training camps, and general cycling challenges abroad, there’s now a wealth of options, and yet too often people stick to the same old menu. Well, there’s a new recipe available for riders, and it’s based in transfixing Transylvania, and more specifically, the city of Sibiu, with its international airport linking global travellers, and a magical city centre that’s free from cars, has cycling lanes to all manner of places worth visiting, and some exceptional hotels, such as our own favourite, The ’Art Hotel’ right in the centre. OH, did I also mention ‘Café Lumos’ for great coffee and cake!
The Transfăgărășan Challenge aims to offer amateur cyclists the chance to enjoy an extraordinary race on the most spectacular road in Romania, if not the world, while giving the feeling of a professional race. The competition is scheduled as part of the Sibiu Cycling Tour, as a pre-race before the professional competition; when the best riders in the world take on the challenge of this spectacular climb. The first edition took place in 2021 and was born out of the desire and passion of a small group of people, who wanted to create an amateur competition on the Transfăgărășan road that they could turn into a tradition.
We believe that they’ve surpassed themselves, and have created what we think is one of the greatest mass-participation cycling events globally. Last year, we based ourselves in nearby Sibiu and joined our locally based team of writers and photographers, to ride the road for ourselves – and it definitely lived up to expectations.
For 2023, we’re riding the Transfăgărășan Challenge with a team, led by locally based rider and editor, Larisa, joined by Nadezhda (over from Barcelona), and Robert (from the Yorkshire Dales Nat. Park). Training is well under way, and it’s going to be an exciting few days, as we gather together in Sibiu for cycling, sun and fun!
Larisa Chinces cycling at Paltinis
No Time to Rest
The event takes place on the 7th July, and once we’re all safely back in Sibiu, we’ll be looking after those climbing legs and heading to Paltinis on the next morning, riding the famous road to the mountain resort. It’s a shorter event, Paltinis Challenge, but has a sting in its tail, being steeper than Transfăgărășan – we know. What have we let ourselves in for! However, life is not a dress-rehearsal and it’s all about adventure and creating memories. With 2 such epic events for ordinary riders from around the world to ride in, why wouldn’t you; and, Sibiu is such a magical city too, with excellent post-ride hospitality to be enjoyed with friends.
Yes, you can find new adventures on 2 -wheels, and you can mix the trip with culture, history and magical scenery. All you have to do is fly to Sibiu, in transfixing Transylvania, and join Larisa and the team in the new cycling revolution. Romania is still largely undiscovered by many ordinary cyclists; and yet, we feel it’s unequalled in so many aspects – why not visit Sibiu and find out for yourself 😉
Where to Stay
Our choice of hotel is my own personal favoruite, the Art Hotel, situated right in the very centre of the city, on Strada Centumvirilor. It’s a super friendly place to stay, modern and clean, yet with a beautiful historic exterior. The staff are super helpful, and the hotel even has a small car that guests can hire for the day, if you want to explore the surrounding villages.
We’ll be writing more abour the Art Hotel in a future bikecation blog for cycling trips to Sibiu.
The Next Big Thing
When you consider what it takes to become a cycle tourism hotspot, Sibiu is already well-placed to join up the dots, with the potential to be one the best places in the world for cycle tourists looking for adventure – on tarmac or trail.
It has a 10-day world class arts festival, second only to the Edinburgh Festival, and it’s truly awesome, with cultural acts from around the world in the city centre, and concerts nightly. There’s an international airport, with direct flights from major cities,such as London and Munich. The medieval city centre is a World Heritage Site, and is simply beautiful. The mountain roads are unsurpassed, with the Transfagarasan leading the way.
What Martin, Dani and the team at Transfagarasan Challenge have achieved is simply great, and this team of volunteers are helping to put Sibiu and Transylvania on the global cycling map. The event is already a classic in this part of Europe, and will only grow, as more and more cyclists, and the world’s leading cycling brands take notice of the epic nature of Transylvania and its potential.
We’ve fallen in love with Transylvania – home to us – and you will too. Why not head to Sibiu yourself; bring your bike, and join the new cycling revolution 🙂