After our last post we finished the last of the climb around Mt Olympus and whizzed downhill into Katerini for lunch. The weather yesterday had turned a bit grim again so we took a day off and spent some time drinking coffee in the many funky cafes Katerini has to offer.
This morning we saddled up once more and turned our pedals in the direction of Thessaloniki. I always knew it was going to be a big day, between 90 and 100k, but thanks to some (un?)inspired short cut searching by John, it turned into a 135k day. The longest of the trip! We’ve been going really easy on the mileage ever since we arrived in Greece because the terrain has been so hilly. Luckily we’ve crossed the worst of the hills and todays ride was relatively flat. But it was still a shock to the system! To be fair to John, I was a willing participant in the short cut search. The motorway route to Thessaloniki was maddeningly short in comparison to the route we had to take (30k shorter) and we decided to try our luck on some farm tracks that looked like they might run alongside the motorway.
I kept hoping the road would just come to a sudden end so we’d be forced to turn round before we’d taken too much of a detour. But no, it kept going in a tantalisingly ‘right’ direction. Until we hit a flooded road… You’d think we would have seen sense at that point and turned back, but there is nothing quite like the promise of cutting a big corner off your day to make you lose all intelligence. We decided to see if we could ride through it. 2 minutes later we both had very wet feet indeed and John was instructing me to wade a bit further in to see if it was worth pushing the bike through anyway. (Apparently my feet were wetter than his already so I ‘might as well go a bit further’…) Needless to say it simply got deeper and muddier to the point where I was shin deep in water and forced to admit defeat.
Still we didn’t give up on our short cut! We tried a different track, this time slipping and sliding over marshy ground until we hit a proper river, definitely insurpassable and after an exploratory cycle along the bank, no crossing in sight. Finally forced to retrace our steps, we stopped to have lunch before heading back the way we had come.
80 odd kilometres and 4 hours later and we were finally coming onto the centre of Thessaloniki. The final 10k were pretty hideous, a very fast moving dual carriageway and then a snarl up of rush hour traffic, all on awful roads with pot holes the size of manhole covers. We were very grateful to find the hotel we’d looked up previously easily and quickly. We’re now tucked up in bed for an early night after a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant. Tomorrow we’ll rest again and explore Thessaloniki.