101km Mandras Beach to Alexandroupoli
Our last full day in Greece ended up being a bit like our first day in the country. Difficult! Several times we really had to ask ourselves why we were going around the world on bicycles??? It truly seemed crazy as we fought on many different fronts.
The wind blew strongly all day in our faces and from side to side, with gusts so strong it was hard to get anywhere without a real effort. Even when we should have been flying down hills we had to pedal. Not that there were many hills to pedal down. The road turned out to be much hillier than we’d anticipated and this too was a blow to our morale.
We’d worked hard yesterday to try and get into Alexandroupoli early and find a few things before we cross into Turkey but by the time we stopped for lunch at a church, listening to the wind howl across the fields of cotton and corn, we realised that wasn’t going to happen.
Just after lunch we had our biggest test. We’d picked out a shortcut on our map. It was a simple one; a road which looked a straight 10km and was supposed to be a hard-packed dirt surface in good condition. Instead it ended up being much longer and only small parts were in decent shape. The rest varied between being washed out, covered in large rocks, twisty and very steep. We had to walk going up and down hills, trying to keep our bikes upright as we slipped on the loose gravel surface.
By the end we were cursing this road, although if we have to say something good about it the views over olive groves and the sea were nice and at least there were no dogs to fend off. On the main roads we found ourselves stopping often to scare off four-footed attackers. Strong yelling seems to do the trick but it is getting tiring.
The final straw came as we were racing down the road in the dark, trying to reach a campsite in the city, when Andrew’s back tyre sprung yet another flat. Tired and fed up, we stopped to change it before finally reaching a spot to put our tent.
All in all, we did end up making it. No doubt the one really nice part of our day – an evening meal of fried fish and salads in a local taverna – helped us to make it to the end.