Thursday, December 31, 2009

lighting the night

But wait there is more :)
just came across a rechargeable solar blinkie.. this is a photo of it
Am going to send away for one and will do a full report after I give it a testing

Ernest, thanks for the suggestion.

As I am an Oregonian I should have been promoting Rechargeables as we pride ourselves in being the Green State.
I added some good information to this thread.
Cost savings
As mentioned, you can not only lighten your environmental footprint, but save a ton of cash by using rechargeable batteries.

A pack of 4 rechargeable batteries I purchased a short while ago cost me around $20. They'll be good for at least 500 recharges, likely more. A battery charger costs anywhere from about $10 -$30. The cost to recharge the set works out to to be just a couple of cents each time. So, in total, even factoring in the charger, a set of 4 AA will cost around $50 for their serviceable life.
A comparable set of heavy duty disposables cost around $2 - and that's at a discount price. The equivalent usage would cost $1000!
Environmentally and financially, rechargeable batteries just make more sense. If you can, try ditching your disposable battery habit and reap the rewards.


> > hi Christian!
> how about using rechargeable batteries for those uses when you're
> not out on tour? at your current rate you might save a little money in
> the short term, but you're adding 5 extra batteries per cycle to
> landfill/disposal.
> rechargeables would cost you less in the long run and almost
> completely eliminate the impact on disposal.
> cheers!
> e
> christian Oregon wrote:
> >
> >
> > led lights are the bomb.. Changed my rear trunk light after a year of use w
> > ith fresh batteries as I wondered if it was getting dimmer (not that I coul
> > d see, but knowing they were a year old) New batteries and the light is j
> > ust as bright as the old. So one year of use on a bucks worth of batteries.
> > LED head lamp gets used all the time - I use it to read while I sit in the
> > hot tub under the stars. I get around 100 hours of use for a dollar. I alw
> > ays buy my batteries at the dollar store. The cost ratio is two Panasonic's
> > for a buck or 2 Duracell's for 3.49, so far seven Panasonic's (equivalen
> > t to 2 Duracell's in cost) have outlasted the 2 Duracell's.
> >
> >
> >
> > to icy to ride today. may have to resort to the trainer....
> >
> > Christian
> >
> >
> > Today is a good day to Ride

Sunday, December 27, 2009

talking about comfort

Neil writes>I like comfort too. In a related vein, how much clothing do you carry?
Chris reply: from my packing list for upcoming 18 day tour.
2 pairs socks - one to sleep in if it is cold, fleece pants, fleece pullover,rain jacket, 2 pairs padded shorts, 1 polo shirt -non wrinkle( for going out to dinner) 2 pairs cargo over shorts (like the Columbia titanium brand- light weight but tough) 2 wick shirts, bike sandals, hiking sandals, wind rain pants, and three bike jerseys.

> What you're wearing and one change, or two? >Neil writes: Do you carry extra layers to deal with inclement weather? Chris replies: see above
>Neil writes: Do you wear bicycle specific clothing, or general purpose clothing? Chris replies: Yes
>>Neil writes: Do you wear padded underwear? Chris replies: padded bike shorts
>Neil writes: How many miles a day do you usually travel? Chris replies: 40-60 on average.
But have cranked out a few 100 milers when the next town with a cold beer is calling my name.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Comfort vs. Weight on Tour

Comfort vs. Weight on Tour

Okay so I’ll state my philosophy right up front when it comes to tours. Why cut out 10# of gear if you are going to be miserable for the entire tour. I have a very opposite view then the weight misers that sacrifice comfort to peddle a lighter load. I am not talking about a hundred extra pounds of gear; you know the hot tub still stays at home. But sleeping on a postage stamp pad as some bike touring cyclist do to me is well kinda nuts. How are you going to get a good day of cycling in if you are not sleeping well? I have traded up and then traded up again until my final sleeping pad is a camp size thermarest. Yes it is big yes it weights more then most but wow do I sleep like I was home in my own bed. I wake up refreshed and glad to be alive, ready to start the day. This is just the start of the comfort vs. weight debate and I know till will not sit well with some but so be it.

I just added a new tent to my gear stash. It is a three person three season double walled tent. It weights a hair less then a pound more then my small two person tent but offers me almost double the room. So why do I need a bigger tent? Good question glad you asked. I tour in the early spring and late into the fall. During the summer months my two person tent is perfect. But after spending a wet spring on tour in BC where the rain days out numbered the dry I knew that there had to be a better plan. If I was going to be forced to ride out another rain storm I wanted to have some room. The little two person tent offers nothing more then a good shelter to sleep in. With normal weather this is all it is needed for just a place nice place to sleep. But when you are traveling in the early spring or late fall and the weather can go bad for days on end you want the ability to move inside. That larger space is then a welcomed extra pound gladly carried.

I have been following the travels of a couple who are on an epic 10,000 plus mile tour. They have been carrying and using for months a set of camp chairs. Not to heavy, but large in size. They have some of that same comfort philosophy I do. Sitting on the ground is never really comfortable. When the ground is cold or wet it is avoided so taking a chair the comfort outweighs the weight.. Pun intended.

So this next week I am going to lay out all my gear for my upcoming tour just to see what is there as a comfort item.. YOU?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Gear Feedback - Stove

>Mike wrote: I bought the New Zealand version of this stove call a "Thermette"
Chris replies: I looked at this version before I made my Kelly Kettle selection. Even though the gang at Thermette push the healing properties of copper it must be an acquired taste.I am not one for the flavor of sucking on an old penny (the taste of blood) But then again I have never found that yeasty Vegimite to my liking, this Thermette being from down under and all.
The other two cons were that the abuse that camping gear is subject to. Copper dents, stainless steel used in the KK pretty darn sturdy. #2 copper handle that is attached to the side of the Thermette pot is going to have some major heat transfer. I liked the way the Kelly Kettle avoided the need for a oven mitt pick up the pot.

There is a video out that shows a head to head competition of the two kettles that is so one sided it is funny. They admit after that they spilt water on the kindling used in the Kelly Kettle's base. But watching the two guys tend to their fires is the funny part.

The play by play; Therm guy used one match to unseen kindling huge flame seconds later, KK guy works the match slow flame, Them adds long twigs down the chimney flame shoots out, KK breaks up sticks into small pieces adding one twig to every 5 that Them is adding. Narrator at this point wonders out loud if the water spilt in the KK is the reason for the KK poor flames. at this point I am saying to myself Gee who do they want to win,, rigged no it can't be rigged... lol

>Mike wrote: The one nice thing about this one (other than the large water capacity) is >that it has a cook ring that sets on top and you can do other
>cooking besides boiling.
Chris Replies: The Kelly Kettle offers the same type of cook ring.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Gear
Touring 2010
New Stove

Wonderful winter weather we are having from crisp 40’s* to minus -01* . Sunshine to snow with the assorted everything in between tossed in just to keep me packing ten tons of layers and rain gear. 100 days to my first long tour of the season not that I am counting the 12 hours and 4 minutes before it becomes 99 days.

So stoves on past tours have ranged from tin can and charcoal to a nice whisperlite, I looked after I order my newest stove and counted four different stoves in my gear cabinet. Problem being none of these stoves have ever been trouble free. But those are stories for another time. This year I toured Greece without a stove, big mistake as anyone who knows me knows I run on 99% caffeine for the first four hours of my day. You know the triple shot Americano followed by a triple shot Americano just to take the edge off. So I really wanted a stove to make my morning coffee and maybe a bowl of my famous oatmeal.

I had been reading up on the Kelly Kettle stove after someone on the touring list had used/liked the concept. Here was a water jacketed stove that used paper, small twigs, pinecones and dried grass as fuel, combined the pot and stove in one slick unit. So I brought out my most recent stove, the pan I take to boil water in, the full fuel bottle and weighted them.
This 3 pint stainless steel Kelly Kettle stove actually weighted less then my stove kit. The full fuel bottle alone weighted a whopping 30 ozs. So I debated for a few months the old back and forth of pros and cons.. less weight – pro, bulky – con, no real fuel concerns – pro, limited to boiling water – con. So after a good look at the reviews I finally sent away for the 3 pint kettle in stainless steel. With shipping from Ireland it came to $100 US. And then a few weeks later…. It arrived. Larger then I had imagined though it did not feel heavy. Good workmanship was evident in all the details. I was impressed.
My first firing was with some dried grass, dry leaves and twigs smaller around then a normal pencil. Eureka I have flame shooting up and out the chimney within 2 minutes. Steam started pouring out the spout after 4 or so minutes with a good rapid boil soon following. They have devised a clever way to pour out the boiling water so you do not have to touch the kettle while it is hot. Using the handle and the attached chain I was pouring without spilling water into my French Press coffee maker. The first test was a real success. The small fire dies quickly and the base was ready to be packed away, it stores up inside the chimney part of the kettle. One small opps was when I picked up the base the wood on the porch was scorched from the heat of the base that was in direct contact. This was good to know as I will avoid using it on a surface that may burn for now on.

So as with any new item only time will tell if I made the right choice. But seeing the results of the first test I am leaning towards many happy cups of coffee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Year for Gear - New Bike

New Bike

First off I should go into the selection process of picking this “new bike”.

Plans to go back to Europe in the Spring had a large monkey wrench tossed in with the announcement by Lufthansa Airlines that they were leaving the Portland, Oregon airport. Personal experience along with the advice of other seasoned travelers had impressed on me to when ever possible travel with one airline with a few stops as possible. With only one airline to deal with when and if things go wrong they have very few options for deflecting blame. Having only one transfer with good luck you and your gear will make it on the same plane and arrive at the same place at….( listen closely as you can hear me knocking on wood) the same time.. (Hopefully Madrid was the exception.)

So now I was stuck with going to Plan ‘B’ finding one Airline to fly with one stop between here and Athens. This wasn't as quick or as easy as I had first thought. Most of the Portland options were long and involved flying to the east coast then jumping the Atlantic.

So then I looked at Seattle, one airline with one stop several choices. I checked each airline baggage rules; low and behold three airlines allow your bicycle as second bag. British Airlines charges you $60 for the second bag; both KLM and AIRFRANCE allow a second bag for no additional fee. Change that as of November that both charge a small fee for a second bag. But this fee is nowhere near the $200.00 each way that most American based and some European airlines want to charge Wahoo I can take a full sized touring bike on my upcoming trip to Greece and still have money left to hit the bakeries.

Now comes the difficult part.. My Raleigh road bike that has served me faithfully on many tours has a slight phobia to ridding on dirt roads. I have talked to it using all the knowledge from my college psychology 101 without getting it to change its mind. Something about narrow tires on gravel during an extended tour of Oregon that causes this impasse.

Oh gee, I will have to get a new bike. And so the research began.

Criteria for this bike:

Fat tires 700x32 minimum

that was my starting point. A wider tire to handle the rough gavel roads in Greece that from first hand experience knew I would encounter.
I also knew that the Island that I was traveling to had very little in higher quality bikes and or spare parts.

Recently I had read of this couple that was doing a world tour on Wally World type bikes. Part of their philosophy was that these tanks were cheap, easy to replace, parts were everywhere, and that if stolen they were out a 100 or so dollars. With the knowledge that the next town would provide them with a new ride or repair if needed... They showed a photograph of their bikes tossed high on a pile of cargo at a river crossing. If that was my Raleigh Road bike stacked up there I would have been in the major stress mode.

I realized that I was not looking for a ten ton Wally World bike but had subscribed partially to their way of thinking. Would or could a good urban cruiser fit my needs and handle a tour? There were several bikes out there that looked possible. 24 speed triples, nice up right flat handle bar options, most even came with fenders.. I looked at the Trek Globe, Raleigh detour and went with the Giant Transend DX from Discover Bicycles in Hood River, my local bike shop. I tossed the comfort saddle in favor of my normal touring seat. Changed the pedals for a set of Shimano duel platform pedals SPD on one side, shoe platform on the other, I was ready to ride.
I am currently using this as my work commuter and to say that I am happy with it is an understatement. Solidly build aluminum frame, 700 x 35 tires, rapid fire shifters, Ergon gp1grips (these are great, as in where have you been all my life?) With the new pedals I was into this bike for just under $600.
Waiting to fit it out with new panniers and a red town & country handlebar bag from to go with the sweet red Detour's Switchback trunk bag that now rides my rear rack. This Detours trunk bag is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

You would swear it was normal fabric, really cool knowing that these bottles are not heading for a landfill but have a new life as a functional item. What sold me on it was that it has built in hip belts that turn it from a trunk bag to a lumbar waist pack.
So more photos of my new ride will be posted soon..

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Early to Rise

Up at 4am surprise didn't need the alarm clock. Put all my gear back on the bike I was ready to head out for the last time. The guest house had a supply of Nescafe and a hot tap allowing me to make coffee in a water bottle as there were only ceramic coffee mugs on the shelves. The plastic water bottle felt like it was going to melt in my hand. Where was the idiot warning label that all American products must wear? 'NOT INTENDED FOR USE WITH BOILING WATER'. to understand how large this ferry was that dark blur all the way down that alley way is a four door car

Arrived at the ferry terminal before the ferry. The gathering crowd swelled with each minute, I had only been able to buy a deck ticket as the Easter holiday made this trip a sold out affair. When the ferry pulled in only a few cars and trucks offloaded. I was waved on into the depths of this huge ferry. Given permission with a nod that I could lock up my bike to a baggage cart I offloaded my gear into the secure baggage cart locked my bike and headed to an upper deck. There were some stragglers that raced to get on board at the last minute. But one lady who ran to the ramp was denied boarding even though the ramp was down and easily crossed. A line had just been cast free, the signal to the boarding officer that no more allowed. He told the lady so, and then stepped across the ramp back as she yelled what only could be interpreted as fond wishes for a pleasant journey.
The ferry was remarkable. New, clean with the look and feel of a cruise ship, what a difference from the first ferry I used to get to this Island. I pulled up a deck chair and enjoyed the island cruise for the rest of the day.

So that's it my ride in Lesvos Greece was complete.

Would I go back?
Yes, in a heart beat

What where the people like?
I and others I talked with defined the locals in two groups. Group one totally ignored you. Group two was out going and would offer to help with a smile.

Did you feel safe?
Always, never had that Spidey tingle that warned me that I was in the wrong part of town or around bad people. Riding my bike was better on that Island then many places I have ridden in the states. Drivers are just more aware of small motor scooters zipping around the streets and roads of Lesvos so sharing the road wasn't a foreign concept as it is in many parts of the states.

Did you have problems not speaking Greek?
Pantomime has always worked well for me. There were enough people that spoke English that I was able to find an English speaker to translate when I really needed the help.

I am adding a different kind of map to my touring bag. In my travels when people ask where I am from I tell them Oregon. When I was in Greece saying Oregon was to most somewhere in the USA but where was totally unknown. So I am going to search for a small printed cloth map that could have multi uses. Would be nice to point out on this map showing them that New York City is just a 5k ride away or the west coast is more then California. I may sew a map of Oregon to the back side.. > These are my small world photos- this young lady's roommate in college is from the same small town where I live in Oregon. We met by chance at the Acropolis in Athens on Easter Sunday.

Also since I am shooting digital I left a few shots of the local area on the card before going. Now I know that ten or twelve good shots would have been better as all of the folks I showed the scenic Columbia Gorge wanted to see more photographs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09: Almost the Last Day – sorta

With Turkey off the map I had another day to spend in Levsos. There was a hot spring resort just out of town so I made the long climb back up from the harbor area in search of the hot spring. I spied a village on the shore of the bay way off in the distance as I came over the crest. Why not was my mantra and I happily peddled to it. What a great choice.

A small chapel under a large tree was next to a large factory building. As I walked around the chapel I keep trying to place the smell that was coming from the factory building. It was an ag. smell that reminded me of hot farm silage. The ground around the outside of the building was covered in the brown gravel looking substance. A worker came out and I asked what it was. He motioned me away from the building but with a smile (no English). Just then another worker comes running from the darkened interior chased by a huge cloud of steam and smoke. I snapped photos of this event. After the first worker motioned me to follow and lead me through the guts of the building. Hot pipes and huge turning gears had me ducking as we weaved our way from one end of the building to the other. Two gentlemen sitting in chairs were as the workman put it 'the Bosses'. One spoke English this is his answer to what was it that they did here. After all the regular olive oil is extracted from the olives the remains are brought here to be heated to rid them of moisture. They then are hauled to another factory where they are squeezed one last time for industrial grade oil. I thanked him for the impromptu tour and made my way outside to my bike.

I made my way to a rocky beach to have my lunch, and then headed back looking for the hot springs before Mytilini. Somewhere I had passed the hot springs. I asked at the store, where? They said it was close by on the water side of the road. I went back and forth three times never seeing a sign or any building that looked right. I asked again at the store as I had covered the entire road from the store to where the road turns away from the water. But now I had land marks to use in my questions. Before or after the gas station, before or after the abandoned tennis courts, I had it narrowed down to about a hundred yards but I was still blind. I was lucky as I stopped still not sure where it was, a guy walking by pointed me to a small drive next to a run down set of buildings that looked like the driveway to those buildings, this was the unmarked entrance to the hot springs.
The hot spring resort was tucked down into the cliff close to the waters edge. Not visible from the road. It really wasn't very appealing by it lack of maintenance or it having separate pools for men or women. I paid the fare for the day but left after 20 minutes as the water was just a tad warmer then a swimming pool.

I had seen the Castle in Mytilini as I had left town on my first day

so decided that I would head back for a little castle exploration. I got there just as they closed and locked the gates.
As the castle employees disappeared for the day I saw a carved rock that said if my reading of ancient Greek is right 'Step here to breach the walls'. Up & over the first wall on a faint path I climbed, I wasn't the first person to use this route and now I was walking between the outer and inner wall. It took me almost 20 minutes to walk around ½ of this castle. I again followed a path that took me past a closed gate and into the main body of the castle. This interior area was huge. A good guess would be close to twenty acres enclosed inside of these castles walls.

The same way in was the same way out with me taking tons of photos along the way.

I repeated last night's dinner in the same café. It was as good the second time. It was now shopping time for tourist trinkets to take home I even had to buy a small clock as the ferry loaded the next morning at 5am

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09": It is/was Turkey day

From the camp by the shore I could see the last line of ridges need to be crossed to return me to Mytilini. My plan was to ride to town. Get a ferry ticket for the following day to Turkey then ride two days in Turkey before catching a ferry back to Athens.
But first a bakery, (just so you all know I have not eaten a slice of bread nor a single bakery item since I returned from Greece) Much to my surprise there was a nice bakery not a half mile from my camp area. The road being closed had sliced their walk in traffic by 2/3rds. Greek wife & Aussie were the owners. He gave me a sesame bread ring, 12' in size, which was out of this world delicious. Why had I passed these along the way? All the bakeries offered these and now I find out how good they were.

The long climb to crest the last ridge ended right where the city began. I coasted down passing the detoured closure now onto tight streets with one-way traffic. I pulled over to stop several times as this was a long downhill run. My Squealing brakes worked as a loud horn keeping me from plowing into a lady who looked right past me then stepped into my path. I swerved, she jumped back but the passing margin was so close I could smell that she had eaten a garlic roll for breakfast, with eggs and sausage, Pork sausage.. okay the pork sausage was just a wild guess it could have been beef sausage.

Finally I was back at the harbor that was the heart of the city of Mytilini. Bustling cafes, street merchants, pedestrians jamming the sidewalks this city was alive and happy.

I found the ticket office for the Turkish Ferry Line. I had stopped here and inquired about the ferry to Turkey just before I left on the start of this island ride.
I was told then that the ferry ran everyday between here and the Turkish mainland.
Today I asked to by a ticket for the next morning, sweet lady said the ferry only ran on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I asked but doesn't the ferry run every day? 'Yes, Yes' she answered.
'So can I have a ticket for tomorrow?'
'No, only Tuesdays and Thursdays'
So I concluded that everyday is any day that begins with a 'T'

I found a nice guest house two blocks from the harbor run by a Greek who was a former Chef in London. We drank Ouzo together as we talked about the fun of being a Chef, running restaurants and the like. This place was just a block from all the hustle and bustle of Mytilini but with a large high walled private courtyard filled with orange trees in bloom that cut out all the noise of the city.

Free again from my bike I was able to wander this city until my feet started to hurt. A small café right across from the harbor had a chair that called my name. I sat down with a beer and a roast chicken dinner that was the best meal I had had the entire trip.
The server was Russian, finally an accent that I correctly guessed.

No Turkey allowed me to wonder what was going to be plan 'B'

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Slept late, found bakery for a fresh cheese bun, found coffee by following a group of men that headed into a tavern on the harbor. Still amazed by the coffee standard that the Greeks use, Nescafe right from the jar was what was being whipped up. This Barkeep added a tourist tax as she charged me $2 Euros for a single cup. I gave her a cold stare when she said two dollars and she just shrugged her shoulders. I didn't press it, but I know she knew she was overcharging me.

All the fishing boats were in the harbor with the fishermen tending to their nets. They had been out fishing during the night this was cleanup time.
The morning light was perfect and the photographs were some of my best on this trip.

I went off with no clear route in mind. I was less then 30 miles from a complete tour of the island and in no rush to head back to the capital city. I stopped in the next village at a real full sized supermarket to load up on some deli cheese and meats. A bakery for a few fresh rolls and I was rolling. Went looking for a castle up a side road that twisted and turned until I came to a unmarked Y in the road. I went left as it looked like the most used road. Gee was that fun. Back in the same village I had passed through an hour or so ago. I was back on the main road again this time just waving as I rode past the castle turnoff. The salt marshes off to my right, a nice warm breeze, some sunshine, I could get used to Greece. Next was the search for the 4thBC Greek Temple. It was marked on the big roadside map as the second road on the left after the bridge. I made a quick map on a post it and was off. Crossed the bridge after about 10 miles and started looking for the second road to the left. After passing the first one went several miles without seeing the a second road. Turned around and went back. Followed the first road after the bridge for a few miles it turned into a muddy mess that then dead ended.
I was confused, on my way to return to that roadside map when I came across another dirt road that was maybe a mile before the bridge. It went in the right direction, I was in no hurry and off I went. Big mud puddles went from road edge to road edge, rock walls on either side forced me to ride through and eureka a little less then a mile and a half up this road was the temple. I still don't know why I kept riding on this road as there just was zero indication that it was the way to the temple. Dumb luck!

The place was abandoned but had been recently mowed. I walked through the ruins touching columns carved 2500 years ago. Saw a lava kiln that these folks were able to get hot enough to re-melt the lava. That's not an easy chore I was impressed.

The road makes a nice climb that had several sections of modern roadway. Wide two lane with shoulders that would go back to traditional 1.5 lane shoulder less Greek road.
I much preferred the small highway as trees shaded the roadway making riding pleasant.
A manned detour blocked my way. No English vs. no Greek, universal hand gestures about me & bike being able to make it, then he waved me through.
I was now riding along another large bay on this empty road when I spotted an olive grove that looked abandoned. This was a rare sight.
Most olive groves that I had passed were fenced in and being pruned. No fence, no house, no DOG, equal invite. I parked at the top of the drive and did an investigative tour. No tire tracks, no houses or buildings hidden down in the trees. My last night here will be stealth camping by the shore under a full Greek moon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09": The great circle route

Don't know what to call this day. Heavy rain clouds rolling past with huge patches of clear blue sky. I headed back to Koloni found coffee and then went off towards the beach on the nearby Bay of Koloni.
Passed the second bike shop, stopped in and traded a 'Livestrong' bracelet for a generous coating of chain lube a good trade after all of the rain and mud so far on this trip.

Closed hotels on a long empty beach, workers scurrying around getting ready for the season, lots of laughter and music drifting across the road. They eyed me as I rode past I know they were thinking damn the first tourist of the season, I thought we had more time. The tourist are coming, the tourist are coming.

Another bakery fed me, another café provided coffee I was getting into a real routine.

I wandered snapping photographs, running across a bicycle rental place (closed) that I had emailed a half dozen times from back in the states. Unfriendly barking dogs guarded the shops doorway and the steps that lead to the residency above. After I had found out that the Airlines wanted $200.00 each way for my road bike to fly with me. I had explored the option of renting a bike here on Lesbos. This place was the one and only bicycle rental shop. But six emails with zero reply forced me to go with plan B. (buying a folding bicylce) It turned out to be much better overall that they didn't reply.

With a re-supply from the only market I went looking for the famous bird viewing areas.
I sorta could see (sorta could see - defined as not lost but working on it) where I wanted to go. How I got there was really another story. Down muddy lanes with much wandering, great puddles that were inches deep to several feet. Oh but wait a large river that had a paved fording spot. Knee deep and cold, I had to shuffle across as I was holding the back end of my bike up to keep the Panniers out of this river.
I made it! A raised viewing blind that was locked up tight. You could still climb the steps to a small landing. The view was great; from there I saw the closed plant where I had spent last night it was just a few miles away. I think this was the great circle route.

Never been big on bird watching but there were flamingos so close that I sat and watched them until the rain started back up.
Making the choice between pavement or mud I rode back to the beach on the great circle route figuring that my ride total for the day was eight miles as the crow flies or 30+ as a wandering fly.

Looking for a place to stay for the night I asked a gentleman sweeping out a beach patio if he spoke English? He replies I would think so, I was born there. He knew of a local tavern that had rooms above. The tavern owner spoke no English but with hand gestures was able to direct me around back where he had a few rooms upstairs. The room was perfectly acceptable with its own private bath. I was also able to store my bike in the taverns back room. His daughter who spoke limited English asked me to come back as her dad wanted to cook me a traditional Greek dinner. I showered and changed ready for that traditional Greek dinner. Okay what can I say 'daddy can't cook!!!' It was horrid. I ate enough to be polite. Gestured that I was more then full and escaped. I said a little prayer before closing my eyes to ward off that meal coming back to haunt me.

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09": waking without coffee

Coffee, coffee, coffee, normally I have this sweet little Lexan coffee press that allows me to make my own coffee first thing in the morning. I came to Greece light bringing no cooking gear of any kind. My early morning craving for caffeine now signals that this was a real mistake. After breaking camp I back tracked towards the village I had passed thought yesterday afternoon. A gathering of cars and trucks in front of a mini market (the only thing similar to an American Mini Mart was the name) gave me a solid clue that there either was a big sale going on or coffee was available. I did a Nescafe double shot turned my bike around and headed out.

As I was now into the good habit of not predicting the road ahead I enjoyed the roller coaster ride of climbs and descents. It was only a few hours into the ride on this lesser road when traffic dribbled off. I had the road to myself..
The Mediterranean to my right the sun giving me warmth, a cold beer and a sandwich in my pack waiting for lunch this is the day we see in our mind as we plan our trips. Today was my high millage day of the whole trip. By late afternoon I had come halfway around the bay of Kalloni and was in a bustling town. Traffic was everywhere. Parking was on both sides of the street and a row down the middle. People stepped out into the street and crossed with confidence. I latter learned that if you hesitate everyone knows you are not Greek.

I had one flat along the way and looked for a bike shop to purchase a replacement tube.
The only bike shop in town (I latter found another on the outskirts of this village) had bike brands that I had never heard lined up out front. Inside the store there were another couple of dozen bikes but lining the shelves was not the typical assortment of bicycle related items but electric irons, rice cookers, electric tea kettles and other kitchen items.

'Honey I need to go get my bike tuned can I bring you home a rice cooker while I am there?'

A sidewalk café provided me with a great dinner, hard to beat a charcoal roasted chicken, Greek salad and fries washed down with a cold Amstel for less then seven dollars.
I had seen on a billboard tourist map that there was a large bird sanctuary just outside of town. I had figured that I could find some accommodations to pitch my tent. My choice was limited by the sun disappearing faster then I wanted. There was some kind of plant that was abandoned at the crossroad. I made a quick scout of it. It was new but empty and had been from the look of things for several years. I wedged my tent into a small patch of grass hidden for the most part of any casual by passer for the night.
Clouds hid the stars and sometime in the middle of the night it started to rain. Me I just slept through it all

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09": I'm singing in the rain
After almost a two day lay over I was ready to ride.. I had come to Greece ready for some rain and this rain was not going to slow me down. Riding in rainy weather is my middle name, I said out loud as I repacked gear in the gallon zip-lock bags I had brought along. With everything inside of zip-locks and the rain covers over the outside of my panniers I was ready to roll. Raincoat, shorts and sandals made up my riding gear along with a pair of yellow tinted shooter glasses. I will give a plug here for these: On an overcast day these really add to the crispness that you see. In rainy Southeast Alaska we called these sunglasses as you could almost believe it was a sunny day while wearing them. They also help to keep you from getting hit in the eyes by rain drops. 10-15$ at any place the sells sporting goods.

On the rise leading out of this village I looked back kind of sad to be leaving. I had written down on a yellow post-it the villages I needed to pass through to get to my next destination. It works fairly easy follow the signs from one place to another until you get there. Write on the back side places that would be wrong ways. Worked for me.
The road forked at the next village, and I uttered those words that always comeback to haunt me. 'There must be a pass over those mountains'. 'No son there will be a ton of climbing, switchbacks and hairpin turns for the rest of the day but a pass you have got to be kidding' was the reply that the bike gods laughed in my face. The climb took me into a pine forest where I met the prettiest goat herder who was trying to get her goats away from the road. I watched and took photos as the pictures attest this is not who comes to mind when you image a goat herder.

This end of the island is normally arid and quite desolate. As it was still early in the season the spring rains had allowed patches of green to invade the otherwise brown landscape. I took my lunch on a deserted beach that was off the main road. I debated on camping here or moving on. The sun had joined me again so I pushed on Sigra wasn't that far off. I stopped in the village for a meal. Loaded up on fresh veggies and fruit and went off in the pursuit of a camping spot on a beach. As I had already learned you only drink Ouzo with friends I drank some local wine then slept under a zillion stars.

"Biking In Lesvos Greece -April 09": Rain day

Most of yesterday and all of last night the rain beat against the roof. I woke to low hanging clouds combined with misting light to heavy rain. As my only set of cycling shorts was still wet from the wash I had only one destination for the day, a bakery.

I could smell it from my window now all I had to do was navigate the twisting maze of streets until I could find my reward. (Now I know how a rat feels) eureka! It was only 10 minutes of wandering and I now was munching on fresh raisin buns still hot from the oven. I went up to the castle making a complete circle around it outer walls. It was closed for the day but the view from the promontory was still stunning. This village clung to the cliff walls under the protection of this castle for hundreds of years. From the castle I roamed the streets until I was back at the Mediterranean. Just call me 'Joe Tourist' as I took hundreds of photos and asked questions from anyone who would stop and talk to me. The only thing I was lacking was the loud Hawaiian shirt.
Dinner that night was in a small harbor restaurant where the female owner who spoke as much English as I spoke Greek cooked me a meal of five types of local fish from the fishing boats docked just a stones through from the restaurants door.