Saturday 08.06.2002 - Total exhaustion
 

Route:
Sami - Enos - Sami
Distance:
61,0 km
Total:
181,3 km

 ROUTE  

As usual Alain's mobile wakes us up at 7 am sharp. It is hard to get up, Alain and Gert both had a bad night due to the heat.

Today the climbing of the Enos is planned, with a height of 1620 m the highest spot of the island.
Similar to our climbs on previous holidays we plan to leave the bags at the hotel. When we want to check out at the bar we have to face the first difficulty however. The hotel owner isn't present yet and the stressed cleaning lady is not willing to take our money or bags. We try to convince her otherwise but in vain.
Meanwhile a couple enters the bar to inform about the room rates. The stressed cleaning lady has no answer to all those questions and since she doesn't know how to make that clear in comprehensible English she nearly starts flipping. Poor lady.

We finally decide to write a note to the owner explaining our plans to leave the bags in our room and to pay later today. We wonder where the bags will be tonight...
Unfortunately all these arrangements took a while so we change our initial plan to have breakfast after some 10 km of cycling. The bar opposite the hotel is open now and we have a rich English breakfast.

Piet suddenly recalls he has forgotten the bicycle pump in one of the bags... meaning he has to go back to the stressed cleaning lady! She has locked the door meanwhile and is not really keen on opening it again.

It's 9.30 am and temperature has gone up strongly. We rush for water and bananas to have some basic beverage and food for the first kilometers. No doubt we will pass some more shops and tavernas on our trip...

The road to the top starts flat, Alain can hardly be stopped. But soon it will strongly go uphill for at least 20 km...
After 11 km we stop to eat the bananas. The road between Sami and Argostoli has been quite broad up to now and to escape from the heat we often went to the other side of the road to enjoy the shadow of the hills and bushes. Another 15 km to go from here and our water supply has already shrunk severely. Still no sign of a shop or taverna...

Our way to the top Another 15 km...

At the small chapel a few kilometers further on we get overwhelmed by the bells of at least hundred goats. Impossible to get through so we have a short break to regain strength.
But even after our break the goats are still around and have no intention to step aside. We have to struggle to get trough them.

Goats

As expected the asphalt road turns into a dirt road now, which actually is in a relative good state due to cars that already went over.
Nevertheless, we REALLY do need some water now, hopefully we will find something at the top!

The 8 km dirt road gets tougher by the minute and the energy level diminishes accordingly. Our drinking bottles are practically empty and though we're cycling in the woods, this doesn't really protect us from the increasing heat. If we want the reach the top we will have to beg for water with the tourists passing by in their air-conditioned rental cars.

As if they could read our minds, a car pulls over a bit later and stops in the shadow of the trees.
Piet approaches the car without any hesitation and asks the family from Wales if they could spare him some water. It is clearly noticeable Piet is at the end of his strengths so they give him one of their cooled bottles of water. Meanwhile also Alain arrives, hands tight on the handle bars, completely exhausted.

Nothing could make us more happy than this magical bottle of water...!
We share the water amongst the three of us, have a small conversation with our saviors and say goodbye.
To show our gratitude once again, we put a note under their windscreen wiper, mentioning our website address as well of course.

We're saved!

From this point on we are about 7 km away from the top, we do have to make it!
The water we just drunk seems to have been evaporated immediately though. Stops get more frequently, the gear gets lower but the spirit is still present. Giving up is the last we will do!

Heavily exhausted and without any food or drink we finally reach the top. We had hoped to find some beverage here but beside some giant antennas, a huge building and satellite receivers there is nothing here.
The building is fenced and it doesn't look like any tourist would ever come here. Gert notices a hose at the building and for a moment he even considers to climb over the fence to grab it and have some refreshing water. But the tap is at the inside of the building and therefore unreachable.

We lay down on the ground until we regained enough energy to enjoy the environment. The entire South coast is visible from up here and the view of the green woods together with the white rocks, the blue-turquoise water, the lovely beaches and some small isles here and there is superb! Impossible to put this emotion in a picture but we gave it a try...

Top!

There are 2 possibilities to go downhill again. Either we take the road we came from, a road we know and certainly won't go uphill or we take the South-East part of the mountain taken into account that the trip is longer, more uncertain and even can come to a dead end.

We agree to give it a chance and go for the second option. A bit of a risk since our map is not exactly trustworthy regarding the small roads; eventhough they do exist they often don't appear on the map. Besides this the map gives no information on relief at all, so it might go uphill again.

The first part is a though road covered with large rocks, the rear wheel is continuously bumping from left to right. Technically the best on this part, Alain is way ahead of us. But we should not complain, we are going down after all aren't we?

Going down

But the road even gets worse, with sometimes huge rocks in the middle of it. Definitely not suitable for cars. The ones that got here have to go all the way back in reverse, turning around is impossible.
As if 15 km of bad road with constantly braking was not enough, it suddenly goes uphill again. Moreover, the total distance still to go is a big guess at this moment.

Exhaustion is strongly present again. It is not the climb however being so heavy, it is the energy level being too low due to the lack of food.
We are in such bad condition we start thinking about what plants can be eaten. We try some grass with seeds, but this is not really our cup of tea. Hallucinating about goat milk, Piet is even looking around for goats...

But the small chapel shouldn't be far anymore. And from there on it is the asphalt road to Sami again, the same road we took uphill.

And again it is Piet providing us with some badly needed water. He manages to stop a truck on the dusty road the first human being for hours on this descent and asks for water. The truck driver gives him half a bottle of water. Happy and exhausted at the same time he can hardly get the thing open.

Gert was ahead of the other two and meanwhile arrived at the small chapel where the asphalt road starts. He is still puffing when Piet gets there. Some time later Alain joins the club as well and we share the water.

No more torture from now on, all there is left is a long descent straight to Sami - on an asphalt road!
The intention is to take it slow, after all we're exhausted and our concentration is low.
But the bends are easy and not sharp at all so we soon get tempted to break our speed record. In which we do succeed! During the 14 km descent we reach a top speed of 76 km/h.

Once in Sami, we rush into the supermarket. Coca-cola, water, orange juice, bananas,... it can't go fast enough.
 
Our original plan was to end today's trip in Agia Efimia but we agree to stay in Sami and take back our room in hotel Riviera. The bags are still at the same place we left them this morning.

Sami

Our bodies are still in urgent need for some food, so we have some spaghetti before throwing ourselves on the bed to take a nap. After the nap and a relaxing shower we have a second, more substantial meal.
And we do agree on one thing: we will never leave again without enough provision of food and beverage!
Tired but satisfied we get to bed. After this day to remember a good night rest is welcome.

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