Monday 01.10.2001 - Tunnel

Trianda - Psinthos - Epta Piges - Kolimbia
62,5 km
62,5 km


It is 7.30 am when the alarm wakes us up, at least that's what we think. We take our time to pack our bags and to take a shower. There's plenty of time, since breakfast is served till 10 o'clock.
It's only when Alain looks at his watch and tells us it's already 9.55 am, we realize that Piet's cell phone (our interim alarm clock) is still showing Belgian time, meaning one hour earlier. Suddenly we are wide awake and we rush to the breakfast table. Phew, just in time.

Meanwhile the bike rental shop has already phoned the hotel with the request to inform them about our time of departure so they can send someone to pick us up. We ignore the tempting swimming pool, get ready, pay the hotel bill (we succeed in knocking off 5000 drachmas) and leave.
The bikes are already impatiently waiting for us, and at first sight everything looks all right. The luggage carriers and the mileage counter we asked for have been installed.

The bikes

For the experts: the bikes for Alain and Gert are a Scott Boulder with Shimano Deore LX 9-speed group and Rock-Shox front suspension, and Piet's bike is an Ideal Hillmaster with Shimano Alesa group 8-speed and RST suspension.

We ask for some spare inner tubes, tools to repair punctures, bicycle locks, a pump and pay the bill. All there is left to know now is the direction to our starting point, but the bike rental guy just can't seem to let us go. He is so eager to show us a map indicating several beautiful routes and regions, but his efforts to force his ideas remain in vain since we have already mapped out a route according to our abilities and interests. We have set our minds to that route and we are not about to deviate from that for even one metre!

We finally get out of the shop, attach our bike bags and get on the road!
But then, hardly a few hundred metres further Gert and Alain already lose one of their bike bags. Luckily they don't get run over by a car or the volume of their luggage would have been reduced to the minimum... The metal bars of the luggage carriers seem to be too thin, so the bike bags have little grip on them. We fasten them extra tight and that seems to do the job.

After 1,5 km we take a short stop at a supermarket to buy some food and drinks. Meanwhile Piet has sensed that his handlebars are too low and he decides to return to the bike shop to have them heightened. On his way back from the bike shop he spots a very professional looking biker across the street, a rarity on this Greek island. When he comes closer it just turns out to be Alain, almost unrecognizable with his bandana and sunglasses...

When we can finally start the journey, it's already 12:45 and we still have to cover 60 km today. Alain immediately takes the lead and we try to keep up with him. It's extremely touristy here so we try to speed up the tempo. A few short hills and descents take us to the other side of the island. Our first stop is Kalithea, an Arabic health resort that is being restored to its original state. It's completely closed off, so all we can see is work in progress. Bad luck.

Alain is happy with this break since he has underestimated a bit the combination of heat-biking-luggage-hills. We take a seat under a parasol and reload our batteries.

Taking a break

It has become pretty hot now and it's been a while since we had such weather in Belgium. The mileage counter shows 15 km, so we still have a long way to go today.
We continue alongside the coast on a rather busy road, but in Afandou we head for the more pleasantly inland. From here on it's a heavy climb to Psintos. The landscape is barren, rivers are dried up and it's hot. We soon realize that it's gonna be a tough climb and the man with the hammer makes his first visit. Balancing our efforts and energy will be the key for the rest of the week!

The village square of Psintos is very cosy, but we decide not to take a break since we will be passing here again in a few days. We continue in the direction of Archipoli on a gradually deteriorating road. While riding his bike at high speed on this abominable road, Gert tries to take a picture. Afterwards it will become clear that taking the picture was in fact more spectacular than the picture itself.

Bad road

Between Archipoli and Epta Piges lies a beautiful descent, where we manage to reach a top speed of 69,5 km/h. Will we be able to break this record ever again on our tour?
The last kilometre to Epta Piges is extremely steep (about 20%), but with the right gear and spirit this shouldn't be a problem.

Epta Piges is famous for its springs (the name means 'seven springs') and a small lake. We put our bikes aside and walk to the springs. Although every brochure says it's a must, we experience it as rather disappointing. Nevertheless it is heavenly cool here in the shadow of the plane-trees and you can enjoy it in the outdoor café, big enough for several busloads of tourists...
After we have taken a few pictures, we start looking for a tunnel that should lead us to the little lake, which is of course more exiting than just taking the plain road. We have some trouble in finding it, in the end it appears we simply missed it in the beginning.
It is a narrow passage, approximately 80cm wide, 1 m60 high and about 200 m long. The water from the springs runs through this tunnel to a dam and then flows into a small lake. There is no light in the tunnel, so it's not recommended for claustrophobic people... We crouch down and walk through the dark tunnel using Gert's flashlight. It turns out the lake is nothing more than a quagmire filled with hardly 20cm of water. Not worth the trouble either, but the trip through the tunnel is a must!
The way back is even more exciting, since we decided not to use the flashlight this time.


Our final destination for today is Kolimbia, which is close to the coast. It's 7 pm when we reach this concrete village: beside hotels and pubs there's nothing to see. After a while we stop at Hotel Marathon, where we take two rooms. Piet and Gert have already discovered the abandoned swimming pool and take a quick dive in the cold water. Alain has no energy left in his body and he therefore decides to take a shower, instead of risking himself to drown in the pool.
We go to a nice restaurant to fill our stomachs and buy ourselves a big ice cream afterwards. This village however is too touristy for us and it's hard to find the Greek atmosphere here.
Very tired we hit the sack and fall asleep like a log.