Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 2 - Sleeping with the pines

Woke up long before dawn body clock is going to be an issue for a few days. Had bananas, rolls and orange juice for a cold breakfast. Learned my lesson last trip. Now before I push off I make sure that I have at the minimum something for a cold dinner, breakfast and an extra liter of water on board at all times. On this island everything is based around the village. The smaller the village the more basic the supplies the store carries. Fruit and fresh vegetables may be available in one village but the next village up the road even though it could be the same size may offer none. Staying ahead of the curve is going to allow me this tour to venture off the beating track heading towards places that I missed last time around.

I had the road to myself drifting down through groves of olive trees past sleeping villages barking dogs greeting me along the way. Plomari was a larger town right on the water. An impromptu vegetable market was going on along the side of the road and from the back of small pickup trucks.
But I smelled a bakery. Funny how that skill stays with me from tour to tour.
Fresh baked raisin buns still warm from the oven were just waiting for me up a side street from the main square. A vendor selling bananas another ½ liter of orange juice and I was set for a second breakfast.
Sitting on the ocean breakwater wall enjoying the sunshine I was about to make an interesting discovery. Albert Einstein is alive an well having at a late stage in his life the formula for everlasting. I am not sure how but I am including some photographic proof.

The road rose and fell like ocean waves.Yesterday I was wondering if I had bitten off more then I could chew with these huge hills on a bike that (one more time) weighted more then a humvie. Today riding under a clear blue sky I was able to even shift out my lowest gear. Wahoo.. Too soon I spoke as the next five plus miles were nothing but a solid climb. Soon I was about to put the bike to its first test. Steep downhill gravel road was the route I had picked and steep thick gravel was waiting with its tire grabbing, No prisoners grin. But before I got to far I stopped and made my first really bad rookie mistake of the trip. I wanted to photograph part of the steep hill that I had just come down. Without any trees or boulders to lean the bike up against I laid it down on its side. Both the front and rear panniers holding it up from laying completely on the gravel road. After taking the shots I put the camera back in the handle bar basket stood the bike up, down the road once again. A little speed, a hard bump and my right rear pannier flew off. A spectacular two and one half flip with a twist. The judges gave it a 7,7.5 and the Russian judge even gave it an 8.

IF when picking my bike up I had spent the 10 seconds that it would have taken to check the security of the bags after I had laid the bike down on its side I would not be writing this on a broken screen laptop.
I know from past experience it is not hard to defeat the connection system while the bike is resting on the bags. What helps hold the bag to the rack is the pressure from the lower clip. When you lay your bike on one of its bags you can easily take the pressure off this clip. While moving the bike to place gear in the outside bags and before you know it you have released this clip. Now the bag is holding on with the upper hangers only. They work best in the locked position with a solid grip from that lower clip but absent that they can twist free when the right bump gives them the force and angle. Were the upper hangers in the full locked position ? Most likely not. Anyone to blame ? No one but me. But as the say don’t cry over spilled lactose free soy milk.

The rains over the past few months had turned this steep gravel road into a rock garden that required both front and rear brakes in the full hand cramp position. It seemed like I had made better time climbing this mountain then I was making going down it. Several hours later I found myself looking down on a small village nestled in the valley below. As this wasn’t the main road I knew that there must be a better road to this place and maybe that better road was going in the same direction I wanted to travel. I take it back this wasn’t a village but a cluster of houses. But there was pavement and it was heading towards the coast. that was the good, the bad and the ugly was this huge head wind funneling up the valley road.
The closer I got to the ocean the harder it became to ride. Nuclear winds in the Columbia Gorge have some competition in the valley of Kato Stravos. Out of the valley at last the road turned and ran along to the breach. It wasn’t easier just better. I started to pass shuttered homes and then boarded up hotels, inns and restaurants. From the look of the map this place had some size (people). From the blowing sand in the street to the boarded up buildings I was alone. The strip was a couple of miles long and I had yet to encounter a soul as I reached the termination of the pavement on the far side of everything.

At one of the hotels there was someone in the back washing a truck. I went and asked if they were open?
All the shutters were down it was in my mind a rhetorical question. .Surprise the guy washing the truck was the owner. He said sure I could get a room they were not really open but had rooms still made up from when the season ended. Turns out they were there to use the restaurants kitchen to prepare part of their Easter feast. Some of you will want to see the live lambs before and after photos but I will hold off for now in posting those.
Nice room with a stunning ocean view. No food here they said but a tavern that will serve some light supper is just down the street. It was closed earlier as I rode past. Grandpa came out of the back handing me a 1.5 liter water. I offered to pay and he declined. Grandma arrives and chews him out, in Greek of course, but a ass chewing by a wife is an ass chewing, obvious without a needed translation in any language .
Owners tells me just before I ride off that I can have breakfast there in the morning. .

The only tavern open offered a stunning meal of fresh caught lightly breaded pan fried calamari, Greek salad, local red wine and fresh bread. I died and went to heaven. Then came the bill, nine euros
The cost of the wine alone anywhere else.
Full, tired, I rode back to my empty hotel as the sun was setting.

Today was another great day to ride.

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