Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I smell a bakery
Okay so I admit it is not the riding that I come here for it is the bakeries that lure me to this wonderful place.
With a fresh hot out of the oven sesame roll I wait for daylight to catch up to me.
New Life is a guest house in the heart of Mitilini that is everything Greek that you would expect. In need of a coat of paint and some maintenance but run by a Greek with a hearty smile and a want to make you comfortable you just overlook the flaws, smile and drink your coffee. It was here in the courtyard under the sweet smell of blossoming orange trees that I put all the pieces back together of my bike.
My bright yellow Detours Panniers were going on their first tour. Damn they make my bike look hot. So A little gear update is due here. I am touring with my Trek 520, Detour panniers,Detour handlebar basket (red). You can see my Aero bars,and my duel clip peddles. Love the light weight Detours Panniers as the four combined are less weight the my old pannier rear set. That and the fact that they are water proof not needing an additional cover is going to make a difference when it rains (yes it will rain it always gives me one day of rain to tell me I was once a fool to not carry rain gear.. Now I lug it as added ballast, helps stabilize the bike)
Have my map. Bike is loaded and still weighs more then a Humvie. I am in the lowest gear making a steady 4 mph on flat ground. What the hell was I thinking?? Do I really need or want all of this gear. But here is the Mediterranean on my left,hillsides on the right covered with blossoming flowers in all the rainbows colors, a warm sun shining overhead in a light blue sky and I am once again riding in Greece.
If you know me you know that I have only the lightest of plans while I tour. I have little regard for maximizing the miles or trying to go on pennies a day. My plan is to stay as close to the water as practical, camp when and where I can, eat good food washed down with local wines and beers. It known I know I know, lofty goals that will take Herculean (notice Greek reference) effort to achieve.
Panniers are always packed for balance but there is a huge secondary concept that needs to be applied. What side do you lean your bike up against. Follow me here?
As most touring bikes are with out a kickstand you end up leaning your rig up against a wall or post or if you are traveling with a partner you can lean your two bikes together. This for the most part leaves the bags on the wall side inaccessible.
You also stand, walk and push from the same side making the bags on the far side harder to get at. Why is this important to know? The gear on that far side should be items that you only need in camp. Tent, sleeping bag, spares, tool kit. As opposed to items that you want the ease of getting to quickly. Jacket,clothing, toilet kit, food. My front left pannier is my food bank. I seem to always lean my bike on its right side. So when I come out of a store with new food supplies the front left pannier is easy to access without having to move the bike to store away the new items.
You follow this now.. today is a good day to ride..
I had heard that you could take a boat (not a ferry) across a small gulf so finding this boat was going to be part of my firsts days adventure. An Adventure it was as the three roads leading down to the water the first two turned out to be dead ends.
I wasn't holding much hope for the third as the little marina was just a small dock next to a tavern. No signs in greek or english, just a guy on the dock painting some wooden posts. Oh did I say no boat? There was no boat. I wondered if I was a fool standing on this pier with my bike. The painter smiled said boat? I nodded, he pointed off across the water and said "boat" once again. I said yes with even more nodding. He went back to painting.
Not sure what that all meant I stood there for a few minutes staring out to sea.
The song "should I leave or should I go" started playing in my head and then(wait for it)I saw a smudge out across the water that, could it be??? my ship well really a small boat was heading my way. five minutes later I had carried my bike on board we were heading to the opposite shore.
It was a very nice crossing, tea and biscuits on the aft deck (see photograph) cost of 5 euros for the crossing. Dropped me in a place called Perama that from all the lack of people was abandoned. Cruised around looking for the road to take me up to the next town. First wrong way put me next to a 400 year old windmill.
You have to understand that here on this island a road can go from a two lane with proper stripes and shoulders to a one lane alley looking cobble stoned crammed between two narrow buildings in a blink of an eye. What looks like the proper road can fool you when it dead ends at a factory only to find out that side street with the crumbling pavement is the main road.
The next town I came to had just received a shipment of throaty mufflers as there were a half dozen kids on their mopeds racing up and down the road loud baby Harley noises emitting from their exhausts. Monster grins as they passed my bike at a whopping 25 mph.
Three quarters up my second climb of the day I had run out of gas. I followed a small dirt road a quarter mile finding a small level spot to erect my tent. Hot, tired, cold beer, so ended my first day of riding.