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Glimpsing a world of open spaces, empty mountains and wickedly tough trails.

Romania is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in Europe. It attracts increasing numbers of tourists looking for traces of its famous vampires (Prince Vlad Palownik – Dracula’s inspiration – was born in Romania), and visiting historic cities and castles. It is also a popular holiday destination for motorcyclists, car drivers and lovers of enduro racing. But don’t expect typical bike vibes like you get in classic Italian places like Lake Garda or Finale Ligure. Forget about all the infrastructure of Alpine resorts. Here, you’re more likely to bump into a bear than another cyclist. I love the riding here so much that I’ve made the trip from my native Poland to Romania many times, and I still feel there’s more to explore.

Romanian mountains are definitely my favourite. They are not too easy – like the mountains in my village that just slightly exceed an altitude of 1,000m – but at the same time, they are not so hardcore as to make you want to quit them. The Rodna Mountains in the north of Romania have no cycle-specific tracks, but many of the paths frequented by shepherds and walkers can easily be used for trail riding. In the Fagaras Rountains to the south you’ll find technical trails with switchbacks so tight, you can only turn by making a front wheel endo on every corner. The Parang Mountains, where the main access road was only covered with asphalt in the last few years, offer more steep and technical riding, while the impressive Retezat mountain range… well, we’re hoping to go there next. Romania has so much to offer that it will take some time before my friends and I become bored with mountain adventures in the wilderness there.

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Editorial – Chipps wonders where all the mountain bike heroes will go. Room 101 – a couple of things that really get us wound up. But are they enough to be condemned to the Room? International Adventure: Morocco Blues – a look at the Morocco that tourists rarely get to see. Trail Hunter: The Wayfarer. Berwyn Mountains – these oft-overlooked mountains in north Wales hold some tasty promises. International Adventure: Riding Romania – it’s accessible, seldom visited and beautiful. Here’s a road trip through the best of it. Column: Jason Miles – it seems you don’t get to be a winning 24 hour solo racer without getting annoyed about stuff. Biketest: Zombie Apocalypse Bikes – it’s the near future and society has broken down. A bike means freedom. But which one? We look at three British bikes from BTR, Olsen and Shand. Classic Ride: Cannock Chase – Barney finds fun and challenges in this popular area that locals love and which non-locals often forget about. Grouptest: Pads for Pedalling – now that pads are all-day comfortable, there’s a huge choice of what to wear. We recommend the best ones for each job. Singletrack Recommended – What the Singletrack team believe to be the cream of the crop when it comes to test products. Kit Bag – Our new feature delves into the bags of mountain bike riders of every discipline. This issue, Chipps shows us exactly what he needs to carry in his pack as a qualified BC Level-2 Guide. Oddball – Our random series of ‘just another thing’ begins with 6 mouth watering cheeses to celebrate great riding spots of the UK. UK Adventure: Three Peaks (The Wrong Way) – Nick Craig and Sanny take on an impossible circuit of the Lake District in a (long) day. Which one broke first? International Adventure: Danny MacAskill and Hans Rey take on Mt Kilimanjaro – two of the world’s best known stunt riders take on a huge mountain challenge. Column: Roly – Roly Lambert vows to stop being ‘that guy' again.