Tour05 Day 4

I woke up this morning still feeling lousy, but, after a shower and a good breakfast with three cups of coffee, I felt reasonably human again. I worked on ride reports and web pages - more challenging using the Zaurus 6000 instead of my iBook G4 - and, after finishing the day02 and day03 pages, I packed my panniers, checked out of my hotel, and headed on down the road.

My first destination of the the day was Xanthi, which is, depending on route, 52 to 58 km from Komotini. One of three routes is the autoroute (A2) which I rode to near Komotini yesterday. I wasn't going to chance that again. Another was the route through Porto Lago which looked like it was expressway on my most current map. It was the longest route, but also the most interesting one since it went down to the Agean sea. The problem with that route was that, after going down to the sea, it had to come back north again to Xanthi and that was likely to be a ride into the strong north wind. The third route was along the hills - mountains really - that form the border between Greece and Bulgaria. That route was likely to be hillier and have worse pavement, but also to be less windy. As is my wont, I left the decision to the last minute. Why make up your mind before you really have to?

The mountains along the Greece - Blugarian Border near Komotini

As best I could figure from my scanned-in-map from Frommers European Atlas, I should head for the second A2 intersection for Komotini and the expresswaty route would go under the autoroute while the route along the hills would exit right before the autoroute. It wasn't quite as it appeared on the map, but it was close enough. After some moderately hairy riding in traffic through Komotini, I passed the turnoff for the route along the mountains and headed on down the expressway. The wind was at my back and, for now, riding was easy. I figured I'd go for immediate gratification and deal with the suffering later ;-)! There was some logic in this since it meant an hour or two of easy riding to get my body working better before it had to do harder work.

The ride down to Porto Lagos was very pleasant. The road was good, the traffic was light, and the wind was mostly at my back. When I got near the lake - Lake Volonida - the wind died off and I thought I might get away with a windless trip up the other side of the lake. My luck wasn't that good, but the wind, which was making whitecaps on the lake as I rode around it (!) - shifted to the east so it was mostly a sidewind as I rode northeast.

Riding to Porto Lagos

Porto Lagos, although not spectacular, was worth the trip, and the ride up to Xanthi, although windy, was neat.

Two storks nests with mama and baby storks in each in a small town on the way to Xanthi

Xanthi looks like cool city. it literally backs up into the mountains. I wanted to get a good picture of it, but the traffic was heavy and I never found a good place to take the picture.

I rode into Xanthi, planning to stop in the city for lunch, However, once I got into it, I decided to get out ASAP because of the traffic. As I rode out towards Kavala, I was in a bad neighborhood for retaurants, so I stopped at a roadside stand parked near a quarry and had a good sandwich and a coke for 13% of what lunch cost me yesterday! It was good and the vendor was very nice.

The ride to Kavala was not as pleasant as my earlier rides in Greece because traffic - which has been quite light outside of cities - was very heavy for most of the way. The shoulder was almost always fine and the cars and trucks were almost always considerate, but riding simply isn't as much fun when lots of vehicles - almost a solid stream and,in some cases, more than one stream because of the aggressive passing - are roaring past me.

Traffic before most of it moved to A2

Their passing style was such that sometime I'd be sharing the width of the road with three other vehicles and, at other times, vehicles would use the shoulder behind me to pass on the right! This made for some nervous moment as I watched them approaching me from behind at high speed. Speaking of watching to the rear, riding in the cities here definitely requires a rearview mirror because you are constantly moving in and out of the main traffic flow to avoid obstructions along the side of the road. Riding on the highway is safer with a mirror, but almost all the roads have good shoulders and the drivers are used to slow moving vehicles being on the shoulders, so, even with the more aggressive passing style, riding in heavy highway traffic is probably safer here than in most parts of the US.

One of the many pretty parts of the ride from Xanthi to Nea Kavala

E-90 with A2 going through tunnels in a ridge near the Agean Sea
I'm glad it doesn't have tunnels where I was on it!

From Xanthi to Kavala is 55 km of somewhat hilly riding. After the first 25 or 30 km, most of the traffic moved over to A2. About this point on my ride, the wind shifted around to the south and I had a moderate headwind for the rest my ride. I had been averaging about 14 mph, and my speed dropped to 11 mph for the last 20 km of the ride.

When I reached Nea Kavala, which is about 12 km east of Kavala, three event occurred nearly simultaneously. I spotted an Internet Cafe - I hadn't seen one in the last 100 plus miles - I saw a sign for a hotel, and it started to rain lightly. Sometimes life is really good ;-)!

I stopped at the hotel - not fancy, but clean and decent and a block from the Agean - cleaned up. transfered the web pages I had done to my usbkey, and walked, in light rain, back to the Internet Cafe. For 1.5 Euro, I was able to use my own programs to read my mail, send a few mails - including two ride reports, transfer the files for two web pages and set up and debug the web pages. I had no problems with the Greek keyboard or, except for speed, with the file transfers.

After I finished at the Internet Cafe, it was about 6 PM, so I went looking for supper. All of the places that were open had a bunch of Greek men sitting around outside drinking and talking. No women. Some of these men looked a bit hostile so I picked a place that seemed to have the least hostile folks sitting outside ;-).

When I went into the tavern, there were several loud, and somewhat inebriated, conversations going on, and no sign who I should speak to. I waited until one of the men detached himself from one of the conversations and approached me. We settled on using a mix of German and English, with pointing, to place my order and he fixed me a very good 10 Euro - with beer - supper. A most pleasant end to a good day.

Last Page Page Next Page