Crete. Sunday 16 October. Hora Sfakion to Georgiopolis. A Sunday ride over the White Mountains.
Today was the big ride back over the mountains to the North Coast. 8 of us took part. Alan was not feeling too good so he took his bike in a taxi. This worked out well for the rest of us as he was able to take our panniers as well.(Alan was back on the Bike the next day)
Weather started out well on the south coast with its warm and dry micro climate. There was more cloud over the mountains and a lot cooler but sunny again on the north coast. We had the usual northerly wind this time as a headwind.
The climb from the south coast was on a dramatic series of hairpin bends alongside the entrance to the Imbros Ravine. We had spectacular views down along the south coast nearly 2000 ft below us.
We stopped for our own elevenses snacks at a closed cafe with views down onto the hairpins snaking down to the coast and over the start of the gorge. Better progress than yesterday with 6 miles covered but quality miles with 1800 ft climbed from sea level.
About 2 miles further on and 500 ft more climbed I saw a an open cafe at a spectacular location on a cliff above the gorge. Coffee and chocolate cake made for a welcome stop.
We continued the climb with the road snaking upwards beside the gorge to a high point of 2647ft. After a brief descent into a mountain valley we stopped for lunch at a local taverna in the small remote village of Ammoudari.
We had to climb 150ft out of the valley and then enjoyed a long winding descent towards the distant north coast. At about the 900ft level we turned off onto some winding country byroads with remote villages and down to the north coast resort of Georgiopolis.
Today was Avryl's 72nd birthday and Peter, Richard and I discussed getting her a cake for after supper. Peter found in town a 12 slice Baklava cake (a Greek dessert) and 2 candles shaped as a 7 and a 2. This was presented to Avryl as an after dinner surprise.
Crete, Sunday 16 October, starting the climb.
Crete, Sunday 16 October, Riding High
Crete, Sunday 16 October. A birthday surprise for Avryl.
Crete, Monday 17 October, Georgiopolis to Hania.
Today Alan was able to ride but it was Lynn's turn to be under the weather (only a 24 hour bug) so both she and Arthur took a Taxi. Weather today was warm and sunny with temperatures up to 24C.
We took a look at the causeway with a Church at the end and then headed up to the hills. We took a byroad via Vamos. The route started with some hairpin bends away from the coast and then a more gradual climb to a highpoint of 748ft.
We stopped for elevenses at Vamos and then descended to the coast and stopped for lunch at Kalami. We had to join the busy National road for a few miles before turning off to the naval base town of Souda.
The ride into Hania was interesting as I found a quieter route than the main route to the centre with a lot of little minor streets and not a little guesswork to eventually get us to the centre. When close to the Hotel we came across Arthur and Lynn out shopping.
The hotel was an old building in the old quarter of Hania with very high ceilings in the rooms.
Crete, Alan and Liz climb the hairpins from Georgioupoli
Tuesday 18 October, Hania to Rethimno.
Today everybody else was getting an afternoon flight from Hania back home. Due to my flying out later due to the passport problem I was starting a 2 day ride back to Heraklion to fly back Thursday.
Weather was warm, about 23C and sunny in the morning and clouding over in the afternoon. Some rain came through but luckily not till evening.
I got a little lost coming out of Hania and ended up joining the National Road. On the flat and with a NW tail wind I got up to 23 mph which was OK with panniers!
After Souda I rejoined the byroads we had taken the previous day via Vamos and stopped for lunch at a cafe in Georgioupoli.
In the afternoon I took the Old Road which is well inland from the new National Road. Ridges come down from the White Mountains so travelling east there are constant ups and downs gradually increasing from 500ft to 837ft.
I found a very plush Hotel on the seafront at Rethimno and gave it a try. Arriving on the day and at the end of the season I got a room for 40 Euro, 20 off the normal rate.
Mileage for the day was 47.
View west of Vamos at 738ft
Crete, Wednesday 19 October, Rethimno to Heraklion.
There was a good start today as the Hotel had the most enormous buffet breakfast I have seen in Greece. This included fruits, cereals, breads and cakes and enormous bowls of fresh jams and marmalade. On top of this there were hotplates with eggs, bacon and baked beans for a full English (Arthur had been hankering for that all Holiday) Needless to say some serious eating followed to stoke up for the hills ahead.
Weather was a little cooler reaching about 20C but sunny skies and very clear all day.
Rethimno was easier to escape from than Hania with a straightforward route following the coast. After about 5 miles the road went under the National Highway and headed inland for the hills.
The Old Road goes further inland than it did yesterday running between a coastal range of mountains on one side and the White Mountains on the other side. Again the road crosses ridges and with more climbing and higher passes than yesterday. There were 6 major climbs each one higher than the last up to 1570 feet above Heraklion. The last pass had great views down to the coast and Heraklion spread out below.
Mileage for the day was 52.
I tried my luck again at upmarket hotels. The first one was 129 euros but the second was only 55 euros including breakfast. There was nowhere else for the bike so they told me to put it in the lobby against the stairs (on the marble flooring!)
Tomorrow I cycle to the Airport to complete a very good trip after the first few hitches were out of the way.
View down to Heraklion on the Old Road at 1570ft