The VERY rainy road to Amarinthos!
End of day 2.
Distance covered so far: 72.38 kilometers (45.24 miles).
The journey has already begun and I couldn’t be any more excited. Despite the very rough start and numerous malfunctions, I’m as happy as one can be.
I left my place, as planned, on Tuesday the 17th of April.
It counts as having left on time, despite the fact that due to a friends&wine gathering the night before until 6am, plus a translation I was hired to do, I departed at 3pm. My first stop was 70 kilometers away. However, since I left so late in the afternoon, I decided to ride until Penteli instead, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Athens. My friend Elvira lives there and she also decided to ride with me for a couple of days, so I crashed at her place before setting off early the following day. Much necessary food and sleep were the only elements of my evening.
It was a short but challenging ride to get to Penteli. I only covered 16 kilometers to get there, but it was the first time I rode my bike with my complete load on and I could definitely feel the difference. Adding 20 kilos on a 9 kilo bike is very noticeable. It made me worry slightly. I could barely handle this small uphill distance, yet I intend to ride 2000 kilometers through a VERY mountainous region. Not only that, but my stuff kept falling off the rack and throwing me off balance. Right… I knew it was just the first day though and I understand that stamina and strength will come with time (and sweat).
Before attempting to ride any further, I needed to do something with the rack, so that the stuff would stay put. I had already thought of adding some sort of side support and I was lucky enough to find a strong piece of plastic that should do the job. I measured it on the rack and burnt some parts off, so that it would be even easier to attach.
Then, with some strong, thin rope, I tied it as tight as I could and voila!
A job well done and it looked like it would serve its purpose perfectly!
In essence, Penteli is a mountain. A beautiful, green haven not too far from downtown Athens.
Not many people visit it much, because it’s away from everything and doesn’t really offer all that much compared to other areas of the Greek capital. It has a village-like feel to it. A small, central plaza, with lots of small shops all around it. People seem to know each other, something that you don’t see much in large, densely populated cities. We went to the top of a hill and could see the entire city of Athens from up there. A fascinating view, but not as beautiful as other spots. It’s not as if you see impressive skylines, huge bridges or the big blue sea from up there. All I could see was endless rows of beige buildings, all built amongst the numerous hills and mountains.
Sidenote: There is an INSANE Geocaching location in Penteli! Go look for it!
The next day we woke up at 7am, had some coffee and set off half asleep, but full of energy. We had 60 kilometers ahead of us. The goal was to reach Amarinthos, a small village in the nearby island of Evia.
I wanted to visit my friend Stelios who I had not seen for a few years. The unfortunate part was that by the time we left the house, it was already raining. We immediately realized that we were lacking equipment. I needed gloves and Elvira needed a waterproof pair of pants, so we stopped at the first shop we found open to buy some. The even more unfortunate part was that 2-3 hours later, it was still raining. Hard!
Along with the rain, there was also strong winds and the temperature had dropped significantly! We needed to reach Oropos, where we would take the ferry across the water and it was not an easy ride at all! It took us a good four hours of battling with the rain and the winds and the hills and the flooded streets and the trucks that were passing by and the dogs that kept finding us immensely interesting before finally reaching the seaside and jumping on that boat.
By that time we had arrived on the island, the weather had calmed down and we could have a much more relaxed final stretch to reach Stelios’s house.
So far, it’s been a very challenging start to the journey. I’ve barely covered 3% of the entire distance I want to ride through and it’s already been painful and challenging, with lots of instances of trial and error. Good thing is I enjoy a challenge and having gone through these difficulties at this early stage, it’s helping me get acclimated and make the necessary corrections on my equipment now rather than later. (The fix on the rack worked like a charm!) Most importantly, I’m smiling. I’m loving this trip and I know it’s going to be amazing. There is so much to enjoy all around me and I can’t wait for more!
Things I learnt:
- Gloves are necessary!!! Wind+rain+speed = pain!
- While obtaining waterproof gear, make sure you find a way to cover your shoes and socks as well. Even if the rest of your body is dry, wet feet will make you cold! Put plastic bags over them if you need to.
- My bike now has horrible weight distribution. Having the entire load at the back, it’s easy for a strong wind to push me off balance, especially when speeding. I constantly need to make sure I add some counterbalance to the front, to keep it from flying towards some random direction and me ending up on the tarmak.
- I need to be on my breaks a lot when going downhill if it’s raining! I will probably buy at least one set of new break pads during this trip…
- Nobody thinks going on such a journey with this type of bike is a sane idea. (Yes, I’m stubborn.)
- Nobody thinks going on such a journey is a sane idea.