Today was a rough, short, day. I woke up congested and with a headache that still hasn't gone away. I got dressed and went downstairs in the hope that my hotel served breakfast - I forgot to ask last night. It didn't, so I went out in search of breakfast, but returned with only a bottle of Nestea. I bought some bread last night and saved half of it in case I needed it for breakfast.
After I ate, I worked on yesterday's web page, finishing the text. Then I packed up and headed down to check out. The owner - I visited with his wife yesterday - offered me a cup of Greek coffee and we talked about my tour and about the States. Then I headed out into the wind.
Yesterday, the wind was my friend. Today the wind was my nemesis all day. I knew I'd be riding into the wind some of the day today, but I had not considered that I'd be riding uphill into strong, gusty. winds for about an hour and that almost all of today's riding would require constant fighting to keep the bike on the shoulder.
It took me about two hours of hard work to cover the first fifteen mile of my ride today. The next 20 miles was easier, but illegal ;-[, riding on an Autoroute. It was still was hard riding, but now the strong, gusty, wind was a side wind and I was riding across a fairly flat valley. The autoroute has great shoulders and its guard rail blocked the wind a bit.
Traffic was heavy in Aleanderupoli, but not bad after I got a few miles out of town. I came to the point where the road connects to the autoroute, and, after determining that there was no other way to go, rode up to the Autoroute only to discover that the autoroute part ended at that exchange. I rode east and north on the expressway as it climbed into the hills west of Makeri, planning to stop for lunch at Komotini, some 45 km down the road.
After about five miles of hard riding, I stopped for a snack at at the first summit. The view of the Agean Sea going down the other side was great, but it wasn't long before I was climbing another, steeper, hill.
Most of the work I was doing was because of the wind, not the hill. I managed to climb the first hil in my middle ring, but had to switch to my granny for the second one. I did that switch on a fairly flat stretch of ground because the wind was stronger there. Then I ground up the hill. head down and hands on the drops.
The other side of the hill was better, although I still had to pedal some to go down hill (!) as it descended into a big, broad, valley. There was one parking area on the first ascent and two on the final descent. each of them had bathrooms and a 'Kantina' vehicle serving food. I didn't stop.
When I got to the valley floor, I notice that shoulder was much better. Then, as I passed an exit, I saw a 'leaving autoroute' sign. Then I saw a 120 kph speed limit sign. The road had changed back to being an autoroute and I was riding where I wasn't supposed to be!
I was very tired, the autoroute was, relatively easy riding, and there was no way to get off without riding against he traffic, so I decided that I would ride it to the next exit. That turned out to be 27 km down the road. With the strong wind, I was only able to do about 12 mph, so I was on that autoroute for about an hour and a half. A few truck drivers beeped at me in protest - one beeped at least a dozen times - but most drivers ignored me and some beeped friendly support. I'm not sure what would have happened if a police car had come along, but I haven't seen any police cars on the expressways here in almost ten hours of riding.
I got off at the first exit, Komotini, and went looking for a place to eat. It was about 1:30 PM and I'd been up since 7:30 AM and riding since about 10 AM with no meal. I was exhausted, and very hungry. I found a likely looking place - a semi fancy hotel with a bar and restaurant - and pulled in to eat.
The restaurant was huge, and fancy. The fellow working there - took me back into the kitchen instead of trying to tell me what was available. The cook showed me what he had, I made some choices, and, perhaps ten minutes later, I was served one of the biggest meals I have ever eaten. It cost 17 Euro, including 4 Euro for a large mug of a very good local beer.
After that meal, my stomach was too distended to ride my bike <grin>, so I got a room at the hotel and took a nap. I was so tired that I didn't even clean up. I just collapsed on the bed and slept until 4:30. Then I cleaned up, and walked into town looking for an internet cafe.
I had no luck, despite the fact that this town is large, has a lot of places to eat, a lot of fancy shops, and a huge stage setup for live entertainment in the middle of town. I stopped on the way back and bought some Aryan (a fermented milk drink) an a couple of pieces of fruit for supper. After that lunch, I don't need much supper!
To me, the most interesting thing about downtown Komotini was the way a couple of 'clubs' were packed - overcrowded - with literally hundreds of young people while a dozen similar looking clubs were empty. This is obviously a culture where being at the 'in' place is very important...