Day 14 – Friday – Holidaying in Greece

Start 08:30am End 08:00pm– 11.5hrs ridte time including breaks
250k ridden
1200m climbing – flat

day 14

I finally got out of my hotel at about 8:30am (note to self – always pre pay then I can leave when I want rather than waiting for an 8:00 breakfast when I woke at 6.  grrr!!)
I got 10 mins up the road and had to turn around as I had left my passport at the hotel. Oops!
20 mins later I popped over the border into Greece
Greece was a low start as I had 50k of gentle ish climbing in rural Greece
Then I started dropping down towards Thelesoniki. I ended up on a main road. It was moderately busy but had a nice shoulder, or room given when it disappeared. Nice and fast.  I bumped into 1 other guy when I finished repairing my second puncture of the trip, (a bit of wire embedded in the tyre like last time)
#45, Martin the German was fast, but he needed a lot of stops..  🙂
I also felt fast as it was a cross tail wind, for a change – weeeeee!

One section of road ended up feeling like a motorway – the shoulder ends up as a full size lane and I feel really safe… I was waiting for the police to appear, but I think it was all OK really

I found Martin later at a burger bar. He had drinks, I had a burger and drinks. My route around Thelesoniki looked to go up the motorway but only had 250m climb. His hit town (slow) then had a 500m climb

I was not happy with a motorway option
However when I got there the route cunningly went immediately next to the motorway for 5 miles then cut right after the hills were done. Genius

This was not my route though – I borrowed the Lovcen – Istanbul section from what Josh Ibbett did last year, (he won the race this year).  He had good planning, I copied him then tweaked bits I did not like
I had a fun dog attack… I only realised something was going on when I heard the claws on the road, but I was shifting it… And he just did not give up… Felt like 400 yds he kept going for.

At a service station (more drinks – it was 38 degree’s but not too sunny) I found wifi
So 160k done, another 90 to get to a pension on the coast. It’s 6pm….. Let’s do it
It was all down hill, but into a bastard of a South Easterly headwind that had shown up uninvited. I got to the coast and the hotel just after 9, paid by cc and off for solvaki and beer with my last 20 euros. A nice romantic dinner by the breaking ocean.. On my own – oh well
Washed kit, (but yellow Pirate kit was turning grey despite my best hand washing attempts)

On the way there I found the 2 guys I was riding with In albania – Simon and Jon. At the side of the road for apparently yet another puncture – Their relationship is starting to fray

I am glad (despite the wibbles I’ve had in a few places) to have ridden on my own
Did about a 250k day but I started late and lost another hour in the queues as I crossed the border
I felt ok all day

However, the only real way of going further is to spend more time at it – start very early or ride late. There are a lot of dead dogs at the side of busy Greek roads
After food, (and a couple of beers) I could barely keep my eyes open. Straight to bed

The plan was for an early start tomorrow, and push to see where I could get to… Hopefully stay somewhere in striking distance of Istanbul. However I have planned take a long northern route into the city as it’s the Parcour, and safest too.

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