Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Road To Kalamata

This morning we had a hard time deciding if we wanted to ride or not. The wind was blowing a gale with really ferocious gusts. We would start out with a big descent and then a big climb, both with exposed switchbacks. The best weather report we could get was for Kalamata, which had mild conditions. Looking at the map and the pattern of whitecaps on the sea below, we determined that the wind was local, caused by the deep canyon we had to descend into and climb out of. We decided to go for it, and the wind did make for a few interesting moments, but we came through all right.

The climb was tough, about 1500 vertical feet in six switchbacks. Once on top of the headland we did a long rolling traverse of the coast. This was perhaps the best riding of the day, especially since the wind was now a tailwind. The road became very narrow with rock walls on either side.

We rode north marveling at the peaks on one side and the ocean on the other. Soon we needed lunch and stopped in a small town called Lefkada. We ate our lunch on a rock wall at the center of town. Lefkada has a famous church called the Church of the Metamorphosis from the 14th century.

After lunch,we climbed a little bit more and than had a big descent.
We both hit over 50 kph, which is our fastest descent rate yet on these narrow twisting roads. During a pit stop at the bottom, we met our first touring German cyclists, Rolf and Monika Ostertag, who gave us some good information about the final climb of the day.

The final climb started at the 47th kilometer of the day. It was around 1300 ft. in 13 km. We were both fatigued and took lots of breaks, however the scenery was breathtaking.

We finally made it to the top, but still had 20 km to go. We had a snack and then were surprised by a long descent of 15 km. Pushing darkness at 7:30, we took a room in the first hotel we came to near the city center and completed our longest day in Greece, 83 km. The town was still alive with nightlife when we finished dinner at 10:30. Absolutely exhausted, we went to sleep knowing that the next day would be our first rest day.


mas said...

Congratulations Dave and Belinda! I am once again blown away by your ability to conceive and conquer such an epic undertaking.
We are so blessed by today's now-a-go-go technology that seamlessly transports us along with you. It is a true joy to once again share the road with all its challenges and glories. Your pictures and writing are nothing short of stunning. THANK YOU for taking all the time and energy to bring us along!

love, mas

anne said...

you two are amazing and glad you have a day of rest , i get tired just reading of the wind and uphill switchbacks...i too send my congrats and by the way.. how is the local food?

Hélène et Bernard said...

Hi Belinda and Dave
We are with you every day and thanks to you we know every day a bit more about... our continent.
Beautiful travelogue and amazing pictures.

Anonymous said...

Hi Belinda & Dave

Have just now caught up with all your blogs. Fantastic. Stay well and keep the wind at your back.


Anonymous said...

Hey Guys, it appears that you are having a great time. The pics are great. Mom say she wants pics of all the people but I want pics of the mailboxes, lol Have fun and be careful, Bron

Dave and Belinda said...

Thanks Mark, we really enjoy sharing our experiences with our friends and family. By the way, you gave us the idea that an iPad was the best traveling communication device and then Belinda's Mom generously bought us one. It is great! Thanks to both of you.

Hey Anne, your comment makes us think that we are whining too much. Glad you are enjoying it. The food is wonderful. Greek salad; tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, and feta cheese in olive oil is one of our favorites. The Greeks say for good health, eat Greek salad everyday.

Helene, thank you for your kind words. We are looking forward to meeting you and seeing Bernard again. Happy days.

Venita, so glad to hear from you! Hoping all is well for you. Thinking of you often.

Bron, glad to hear from you! Alas, no mailboxes in Greece :( hoping the little roadside shrines will suffice.

Love to all...