June 11, 2013
Distance: 53.1 miles Climbing: 1273 ft
Jenny and I enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast of eggs and fried potatoes at our campsite next to the abandoned railroad tracks. There were active trains on a set of tracks on the other side of a small berm from where we were, but we only heard them a couple of times, and the trains were really short. Things did not seem well in the world of Greek trains.
We got on the road and made good time headed west. There were great views of the ocean as we rode along, bouncing between small towns. The views were nice but nothing really stuck in our minds about it.
After a little while, we realized we were approaching Corinth, which is located at the skinniest point of the isthmus that connects mainland Greece to the Peloponnese. This was an important shortcut overland for traders for a long time, and the French eventually built a deep canal here in the 1800’s. I was interested in lingering a little bit to take in some of the bridges and the canal itself, but instead DISASTER STRUCK!!
We were all the way at the south end of the canal on a small side road with almost no traffic. We rode down a small incline to the wooden bridge deck. I looked to my right and saw the line of the canal, and the perfect picture I could take. Unfortunately, a quick glance behind me revealed a car behind us so I turned forward and kept riding. At this moment, I heard a yelp behind me from Jenny, so I hit the brakes, but it didn’t matter because my rear tire had already slid between the slippery wet wooden planks of the bridge, bottoming out my bike on my panniers and stopping me abruptly. I turned and saw Jenny’s front wheel spin to the side wildly and down she went with a scream. The car behind us stopped without a problem and Jenny got up without injury, I was able to unwedge my bike from the bridge and get off the damn thing pretty quickly. I tried to get us sorted out on the far side, but Jenny was pretty shaken up and wanted to JUST RIDE! So we did. After some research we realized that the bridge deck was wet because it was a “submersible bridge” which is lowered underwater allowing ships to pass over it. We discovered at least one design flaw. Anyways, we’ll never forget the canal at Corinth, although we didn’t get the best look at it.
The part of Corinth we rode through didn’t compel us to stop, so on we went. We had a nice tail wind and the north shore was pretty, winding along right next to the ocean. The highway was really bad for riding, with lots of trucks and people driving with the sprite of want to be F1 drivers, so we spent a great deal of time consulting the GPS and riding on local roads that kept us on the water, but frustratingly repeatedly dumped us back on the highway.
We struggled to describe to each other how we felt about this area, it was beautiful coast line with beaches and people swimming, but it was SO developed. Every foot of the way was someone’s house, hotel, bar or restaurant. It was relentless and monotonous as each town blended seamlessly into the next.
We stopped at a Lidl, which is the el cheapo grocery store of choice in these parts to stock up. While we were packing up our groceries, a young man pulled a bucket of small oranges out of his hatchback and motioned for us to take some. We politely took four or five while he proceeded to dump handfuls into Jenny’s pannier until we had to ask him to stop, or else we wouldn’t be able to fit our groceries.
We continued along becoming more and more worried about finding a place to sleep. There didn’t seem to be any campgrounds in this area. I spotted a section on the GPS that didn’t have the usual network of town roads, and hoped it was a river or some geographic feature that might give us some refuge. As we rounded a bend before we saw that is was a river, but our side was heavily built up with condos. The far side was more promising with a rambling treed area. The road down to the trees was gated at a building that looked like a beach side bar that hadn’t opened for the season. We saw an RV parked out front and noticed they had Austrian plates, so we ventured down for a chat. They were really nice retired folks on a ride through the Balkans with their two Labradors. It turned out they were spending the night in the parking lot of the not open bar, so we decided that we’d crash there too, somewhat shielded by their RV.
After a few hours, a whipping storm came up, with lightning and sideways rain, so we put up our tent in the middle of the outdoor wet-bar pavilion, and made some dinner using their counter tops, which felt like a luxury after slicing endless vegetables on cutting boards on the ground. It was a peaceful night of sleep listening to the big surf crashing on the shore next to the bar.