A ride home in Greece via Mount Oeta

To celebrate my graduation from the University of Central Greece, I planned to return home by bicycle.

Bicycle Adventurers: I went solo.

When: December 2015

Accommodations: I slept on a pebble beach.

Distance: 170km in two days

Bonus: The dirt road from Koumaritsi to Pavliani village: It was a beautiful fairy-tale road that crosses a big and thick fir-tree forest.

Day One

I left the city of Lamia, home of the University of Central Greece, early and started to climb the foothills of Mount Oeta, the mythical burial site of Hercules. As I ascended, I could still see Lamia, the city I’ve spent some of the most carefree, sweet, and fun days of my life. 

The sky gave me worrying signs of possible rain, but I don’t get discouraged easily and this wasn’t hard with this beautiful scenery around me: a beautiful carpet of autumn-colored trees and bushes on mountains that get lost in the morning mist. 

After Koumaritsi village, I found the most beautiful cycle path I’ve seen in my life. It’s a smooth gravel road crossing a part of Mount Oeta's national park forest and ends on Pavliani Village. An out of this world silence put everything in slow motion. I rode slowly, breathing fresh, cold mountain air. The big black fir trees made the air smell beautiful and I couldn’t get enough.

After some hard climbing kilometers, I arrived on the highest part of the Mount Oeta road. The hard days are over and I began to roll down the slope for the next 70km to Galaxidi, the city by the sea. When the downhill ends, I have more than 30km to reach Galaxidi, but I want to sleep on a pebble beach, it provides a beautiful natural mattress, so I push myself hard to keep pedaling for one more hour. When I get there, I feel happy and content. It was a beautiful day and now I am going to sleep by the sea, listening to natural lullabies.

Day Two

I decided to start very early the next day. The rest of the trip is on a national road and I don’t want too much traffic. The original plan was to continue the mountainous route and avoid the national roads, but a villager confused me with his directions and I ended up here. Fortunately, this national road is a few meters from the sea and the scenery is always nice. 

At a cross road, a big dog started chasing me. At the beginning, I thought he wanted to scare me off his area, but after awhile I realized he just wanted the company. He just led the way and wouldn’t allow me to pass him. As he was running ahead of me, he would grab with his mouth garbage from the side of the road and let them drop in front of me. I’ve tried several times to lose him, but he was always managed to follow me. It was amazing. At the end, he was trembling from incredible efforts. I felt so sorry for him, but I couldn’t take him. I lost him for good when I gave everything on a big climb. This dog still haunts me for some reason. I felt terribly for leaving a special creature like this behind after all his efforts to be in my company. I should have played with him a little more at least. But ... you know, the “should have” never solved anything… 

After some easy kilometers on the national road, I finally reach the town of Nafpaktos, very close to home. I appreciate greatly its cycle path by the sea and I ride slowly as I eat a sandwich. I stumbled upon a deserted waterslide park looking so bizarre in this setting.

I tried to appreciate the last part of this journey as much as I could. A beautiful trip came to an end and two hours later I was in my house, unpacking my stuff from the bicycle. Ahh, this is the life!! The feelings of joy and contentment these trips bring to my life can’t be easily described. I wish more people could feel this way, doing something as simple as riding their bicycle!

Your favorite local bike shop? “To podilato” Papaflessa 4 and Eumelus, Patras http://topodilatopatras.gr

Bike overnight tips and tricks? 

  • My favorite gear is Rackatabla. This plywood platform makes bike overnights a breeze. You can carry your backpack or your suitcase easily!
  • I wish I brought a more comfortable pillow! 
  • I always keep trips simple. I eat simply and sleep directly under the stars.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

1 response so far ↓

John Bowden - Feb 5, 2018 at 3:21 PM

Nikos, this sounds like a great trip, thanks for sharing. We're looking at cycling from Athens to Croatia this spring - do you have any recommendations for cycling in the western part of Greece, near the Ionian islands?

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