Thursday, August 19, 2010

Round Two

Ioanina to Greneva

Distance: 72 km
Time elapsed: 5 hs 21 min
Average speed: 11 km/ hr
Max speed: 59 km/ hr
Temp: 39 C
Weather: Hot! Sweltering summer heat reflecting off highway, low breeze

We woke to the sound of dogs barking outside our tent at dawn. No, they were barking all night but at dawn we gave up on the chance of getting more rest and decided to pack up . I made us tea with the bumbola while Chris took down then tent and soon after we were on our way, leisurely biking the lakefront bike path.

In the morning Ioannina is perfect; cool breezes and fragrantly blooming plants and flowers, still sleeping cafes hinting at a latenight party, fellow morning joggers in their sweatsuits... I remember jogging this path in the midst of the chilly winter when Cam and Donna came to visit, and have probably been to this lake a dozen times over the last two years. I felt a hint of nostalgia wondering if I'd ever get to see it again...

Last look at Ioannina!

Eventually we hit the highway on-ramp. This new road was completed two years ago, shaving off 30 km from the old winding village roads. With superwide shoulders and bypassing tunnels, it would be great to swiftly cross. Unfortunately, emergency patrol didn't want us going through the tunnels so they gave us a lift to an exit for the old road, which was a solid 12 km uphill around the mountain.

Thank you Emergency Patrol

On the plus side: quiet and car-free, plenty of shady trees and blackberries to stop at, majestic views looking down over the valley below... But on the downside: badly worn road, exhaustively long switchbacks, traveling for 3 hours and going the same distance as 20 min by highway... The roads finally hooked up and we sped along, finally peaking the 40 km mountain pass and enjoying lengthy downhill roads.

Beautiful road! But has its downside...

However, emergency patrol found us again and insisted we take the winding old road. At this point we'd been out of water for 2 hours and were only 15 km of downhill gliding from town. We also never got to stop for lunch and by the late afternoon were feeling weak with exhaustion. Had they let us ride and follow behind we'd have
been fine, but instead they insisted we get off and take an uphill unpaved road out to a village. It was grueling.

Finally, in the end things turned out well and we found a nice abandoned campground next to an old church and with a spring. We washed our sweaty clothes, showered, filled our bottles, and pitched the tent for a badly needed night of rest.

We learned quickly enough why the campground was abandoned-- these weird swarms of flies- I mean thousands- are everywhere! They're engulfing us, forcing us to wear towels around our heads to keep them out of our eyes. I've never seen anything like it!

Sun is now up and were breaking camp, off for another day's ride. Well see how far we can get!


greggalen said...

Hey Courtney and Chris! It's nice to read these updates...sounds like the beginning of a great adventure. Be safe and enjoy it.

I'm in New York visiting my brother and his family. It's nice, but also tough to be away from Albania.

talk to you soon!

becca said...

Looks like you guys are off to a great start- can't wait to read about all your adventures. Next week I'm heading out on the road again- Russia by train. When we are all back in the states hopefully we can meet up and share stories!

Anonymous said...

Court and Chris! Wow! sounds beautiful and like so much fun. Im here in Phoenix...dying literally of boredom. Do any of the countries youre going to have lots of coconuts? Because the green coco water is very good for dehydration. Dont run out of water! Have fun and keep us posted! Love you! Anne

Anonymous said...

As seasoned cycletourers with 30+ years of experience, we're SERIOUSLY impressed with your ambitions and your ability to carry so much weight so far in that heat. I'm sure we speak for many in wishing you a great trip - and in expressing the hope that you will be posting some photos as well as your evocative prose. Jay and Vicky

Anonymous said...

We're really enjoying your blog posts. Keep them up. We're impressed by your upbeat attitude (despite what sound like some grueling ridies), and look forward to hearing more as the trip goes on. Best of luck! Carol and Tom in Seattle

Thomas said...

You guys are amazing! We're really enjoying your adventures. Looking forward to the next installment. Some photos would be great if you can. Keep safe, healthy and strong. And, yes....... avash-avash! Tom and Carol in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

hey courtney and chris - good luck! keep safe and keep up the interesting stories! alexis

Anonymous said...

My first check in...Y'all rock! I have good memories of Grevena... but I remember how "hilly" it was. Respect and admiration to your perseverance!! Is Valia Kalda on your agenda? A magical forest... truly. Keep pedalin, keep safe, keep the stories coming! - Ben