Cycling down not-too-steep slick rock is lots of fun.

Fall Cycling and Camping Tour of Utah

My cycle for retirement has been downscaled a bit after taking a teaching a job in August, however Eric is enjoying a full retirement and finding local cycling groups to keep him busy. Aside from the joy of being with students again, one bonus of teaching in Western Colorado is the Fall Break. It’s like a Spring Break only better because the weather is so nice. Eric and I took full advantage of the week off by exploring southern Utah. It would be amazing to cycle tour or bike pack the entire trip, but the limited time made it necessary to connect the adventures with a car. Here is a synopsis of the fun and beauty we found:
Day 1 – Drive Fruita, CO to Moab, Utah. (Mountain biking Moab Brand Trails— 16 miles)

The names of these trails gave me confidence that we were at the right level.
The names of these trails gave me confidence that we were at the right level.

After loading our car with camping gear and 4 bicycles (2 road and 2 mountain) we headed toward the mountain biking capital of Utah, to see what all the hubbub is about. At just over an hour from our home it was easy to set up camp and be cycling before 2 pm.

Our first ride was at the Moab Brand Trails a short cycle ride from our campground. Little did we know that this weekend was Outerbike, a huge festival/trade show for mountain bikes and equipment. Dozens of vendors filled the parking lots and hundreds of cyclists filled the trails on demo bikes.

The tents and vendors of Outerbike were a pleasant surprise.
The tents and vendors of Outerbike were a pleasant surprise.

Because we still consider ourselves beginner mountain bikers we chose the Bar M trail and Easy-LZ. These trails gave us a lot of practice cycling up small rock ledges and slick rock. After a second loop of Easy, I could feel how much our riding skills had improved and the cycling became that much more fun.
Day 2 – Arches National Park – (Road cycling – 60 miles)

View on the road from our campground to breakfast in Moab.
View on the road from our campground to breakfast in Moab.

Not only does Moab have great mountain biking, it also has a beautiful paved bicycle path that starts at the intersection of Highway 313 and 93 north of Moab. This bicycle path, also less than 1/4 mile from our campground made a cycling to Arches super convenient. With crisp fall air, clear blue skies and growling stomachs, we hopped on our road bikes and cycled the 9 miles into town for what we thought was a breakfast big enough to fuel our ride into Arches National Park. Little did we know that the breakfast coupled with a last minute decision to buy a sandwich for a picnic later would barely be enough food to sustain the mostly uphill ride to Devil’s Garden, the end of the 18 mile paved road.

The first big climb from the park entrance to Three Penguins.
The first big climb from the park entrance to Three Penguins.

Beautiful vistas, amazing sandstone sculptures, and geological surprises greeted us around every corner of the road. Even a quick, but heavy rainstorm waited until we were at the top on the climb and under a picnic shelter before it let forth its fury.

Picnic spot at Devil's Garden, the end of the paved road in the park.
Picnic spot at Devil’s Garden, the end of the paved road in the park.
One of the arches in Arches.
One of the arches in Arches.

Day 3 – Dead Horse Canyon State Park – (Mountain Biking – Intrepid Trails— 16 miles)

A 30 mile car drive, which by the way would have been a beautiful road bike ride, took us  to the Intrepid Trails, some really fun, perfect-for-our -evel, mountain biking trails. Slick rock, great rim views with minimal exposure, and just enough challenge to keep us focused and improving made this a super fun day. We also found great, hidden BLM campsites that will be our destination for the next trip. A lovely interpretative center with a convenient, coffee trailer outside were an added bonus. Because this park is located at a much higher altitude, temperatures were the perfect coolness for cycling.

Nice and easy for the start of the Intrepid Trails.
Nice and easy for the start of the Intrepid Trails.
Cycling down not-too-steep slick rock is lots of fun.
Cycling down not-too-steep slick rock is lots of fun.

Day 4 – Natural Bridges National Monument to Lake Powell (Road cycling and hiking – 16 miles)

It’s a long drive from Moab to Lake Powell but we did manage several stops along the way. Our first side trip was into Canyonlands National Park to see petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock.

This is a really cool set of petroglyphs. It would be interesting to understand the story..
This is a really cool set of petroglyphs. It would be interesting to understand the story..

We’d thought we might drive further into Canyonlands but realized the park is so big and isolated that we actually need to dedicate several days to do the park justice. So we made a decision to come back later. After another few hours of driving we did make the side trip to Natural Bridges Natural Monument which is TOTALLY worth the extra time. Our legs were feeling cramped after sitting in the car for so long so we unloaded our bikes and road the 14 mile park loop stopping at each bridge and hiking. Hiking by the Horsecollar Ruins and down to the valley floor underneath the bridges was really enjoyable.

The hike down to the valley floor underneath the bridge involves steep ladders, wire chains and steps carved into the sandstone...FUN!
The hike down to the valley floor underneath the bridge involves steep ladders, wire chains and steps carved into the sandstone…FUN!
Part of the descent towards the bridge.
Part of the descent towards the bridge.

It was getting late in the afternoon, the Natural Bridges campground was full, and the next town was a LONG drive away. Thankfully, the park ranger suggested we try Hite Campground at Lake Powell where we found a completely empty campground. Luckily for us (unlucky for the boaters) the water lever was so low at this end of the lake that we had the campground basically to ourselves. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and campfire with millions of stars twinkling overhead. The morning’s sunrise yielded glorious colors and shadows from the sandstone formations.

Sunrise at Lake Powell. The shadows on the rocks are caused from the rock formations behind us.
Sunrise at Lake Powell. The shadows on the rocks are caused from the rock formations behind us.

Day 4 – Lake Powell to Tropic, UT (Hiking – Capital Reef National Park – 4 miles)

The hike up the Rim Trail in Capital Reef National Park is worth the steep climb. We enjoyed a picnic and a beautiful view of the Waterpocket Fold looking down into the valley at Fruita, UT.

View of the water pocket fold from the ridge down to the valley, Fruita, UT.
View of the water pocket fold from the ridge down to the valley, Fruita, UT.

After the strenuous hike we continued driving on America’s Scenic Highway 12 (it really is scenic) through Dixie State Park filled with golden aspen trees, tall dark-green evergreens, and huge panoramic views of Grand Escalante Staircase National Park. As daylight waned and temperatures dropped we thought we’d treat ourselves to a motel room in Tropic. Unfortunately, so did every French and Chinese tour group. There was not a room was to be had. Luckily, the local RV park had a tent site with a hot tub, bbq and live music. We had a very relaxing evening unwinding in the hot tub and listening to great country western and blues music in the cozy western-style chow house. But the temperatures were dropping quickly.

We slept fairly well in about three layers of clothes, socks, long undies and hats but the morning was COLD. I guess we’ve become wimps because we both jumped at the suggestion to hop in the car and drive two blocks with our heated seats to the local espresso cafe for breakfast and a pastry.

Day 5 – Bryce National Park – Cycling (16 miles) and Hiking (2 miles)

We definitely recommend cycling into Bryce rather than driving.
We definitely recommend parking at the shuttle bus parking lot and cycling into the Bryce National Park, or making a full day of cycling and start at Red Canyon National Park.

It’s a short 12 mile drive from Tropic to Bryce National Park. As we were driving to the park entrance I noticed a beautiful, multi-use bicycle path snaking through the pine trees on the side of the road so we parked the car and started cycling. Not only did we avoid the lines at the park entrance, we enjoyed the freedom and flexibility to explore the park without waiting in the long lines for the shuttle bus.

View of Bryce from the Rim Trail.
View of Bryce from the Rim Trail.

As a side note, this beautiful path actually starts at Red Canyon Visitor Center and would make a lovely day trip cycling park to park.

After hiking and cycling around Bryce for the morning, my goal had been to mountain bike in Red Canyon in the afternoon. Unfortunately, after a stop at the Visitor Center we learned that it was too late in the day to attempt the famous Thunder Mountain Trail. We opted for a shorter trail that we abandoned after only a few miles as it too hard for our skills. It would have been a better hike.

This path in Red Canyon looks easy but it quickly got too technical for us and would have made better hike.
This path in Red Canyon looks easy but it quickly got too technical for us and would have made better hike.

Enjoying the luxury of our first bed and heat in five day, we slept like logs at an over-priced motel in Panguitch, a small old one-horse cowboy town located near Butch Cassidy’s homestead.

Day 6 – Zion National Park (Cycling 25 miles and Hiking 3 miles, 1000 ft.)

None of my pictures do justice to the majesty of Zion.
None of my pictures do justice to the majesty of Zion.

After a late start and a breakfast of the BIGGEST pancakes I’ve ever seen, we drove towards Zion making a random stop at second-hand, antique shop brightly painted with American-flag colors on the west side of Highway 89. Eric is hunting for some second-hand cowboy boots or which many pairs were displayed in front of the shop. Although unsuccessful in finding cowboy boots, he did find a well-used, several-sizes-too-big, pair of Merrell hiking boots for gardening.

We arrived mid-morning at Zion about the same time as thousands of other people. The line to enter the park and the wait to go through the tunnel were long. But the drive from Mt. Carmel to Springdale was beautiful. All the parking lots in Zion were full and it took some creativity and patience to find a parking spot in Springdale. We then hopped on our bikes and headed into the park to enjoy the car-free road.

Here's where we turned around on the hike to Hidden Canyon. We felt too exposed on the narrow ledge with the steep cliff on one side.
Here’s where we turned around on the hike to Hidden Canyon. We felt too exposed on the narrow ledge with the steep cliff on one side.

Magnificent and awe-inspiring is the only way to describe the thrill of enjoying the magnificent peaks of Zion from the seat of a bicycle on a smooth, wide road without the worry of approaching traffic. Although this would be a perfect road cycling ride, we used our mountain bikes with hiking shoes so we could stop when the mood struck. After a picnic lunch on the grass of the the Zion Lodge we hiked the Emerald Pools Trail, cycled to the Narrows, and then hiked up Hidden Canyon trail until the trail became too exposed, narrow and scary for us.

The perfect, sunny, low 70s Fall kind of day and the hiking and cycling justified a huge scoop of ice cream cone in Springdale before driving on to St. George.

Day 7 – St George and Snowy Canyon (Road Cycling 29 miles, 1500 ft.)

St. George was packed with senior citizens in town for the Huntsman Senior Games. (I’d never heard of them but apparently they are quite popular.) Seniors 55 and older from across the United States and Canada had converged on St. George to relive their team athletic days playing volleyball, pickle ball, tennis, bridge, and mah jong. Other seniors were competing on road bikes, mountain bikes, golf courses..you name it. If it involved leisure activities, there was a competition for it.

We got a kick out of the seniors but still don’t feel it’s possible that fit into that category. Our grey hairs, however, would tell us differently. Putting denial aside, we hopped on our road bikes and cycled towards Snowy Canyon. We chose the dedicated cycle path, which apparently, most road cyclists do not use because some of the hills are MUCH steeper (15% or steeper) than the highway with wide shoulders that it parallels.

This dedicated cycle path to Snowy Canyon gets very steep in some places.
This dedicated cycle path to Snow Canyon gets very steep in some places.

As we struggled to get to top of each hill (even walking in several places) we saw dozens of road cyclists zipping by on the highway. Our consolation is that we got an incredible aerobic workout and enjoyed an amazing view through Snow Canyon on our downhill ride back to St. George.

Snowy Canyon in the background.
Snowy Canyon in the background.

Our Fall Break left me refreshed and really charged up about the place we’ve chosen for retirement. We live so close to many magnificent and beautiful places that we can’t wait to see more.

A Labor Day Trifecta – Colorado Style

Eric is home….for good…for his second (and “final” he says) retirement. So what better way to welcome him home than to give him a sampling of activities near our new home. No, our weekend did not include horse racing as the title might suggest, but it did include road bikes, mountain bikes, and hiking shoes

Day 1 – Roading Biking near Aspen (46 miles, 4,242 ft)

Smooth roads and little traffic make cycling to Ashcroft a pleasure.
Smooth roads and little traffic make cycling to Ashcroft a pleasure.

A short two-hour drive from our house brings us to beautiful Aspen, Colorado. We parked our car at the HHS “free”(on weekends) parking lot near the Aspen Hospital. From there we cycled uphill towards the old ghost/mining town of Ashcroft. The gradual 12 mile uphill on a beautifully paved road heavy on scenery and light on traffic must be a cyclists’ favorite as we passed and were passed by many cyclists. The sound of the stream rushing over boulders on our right, the smell of pine and the sound of the rustling aspen leaves in the slight breeze were welcome contrasts to the Egyptian desert that Eric had recently left.

A view near Ashcroft
A view near Ashcroft

After arriving at the quaint “ghost town” of Ashcroft we stopped to snap a few photos but didn’t linger because dark, puffy storm clouds were appearing over the peaked mountains. The possibility of being caught on our road bikes in a mountain thunderstorm did not seem fun.

The downhill ride from Ashcroft to Aspen is fantastically fun and fast bringing us back to the parking lot before we knew it. Our stomachs were grumbling so we took the paved bicycle path passing the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching  and beautifully-restored Victorian houses on the way to downtown Aspen. The town itself was bustling with tourists and locals alike celebrating the end of summer by dining at one of the many restaurant patios, strolling through the Saturday Farmer’s Market, shopping at one of the many designer stores and/or art galleries, or like us, sipping a beer and munching on a brat at beer garden.

After refueling and meeting another couple who said their “favorite” road bike ride is from downtown to the Maroon Bells, we decided to see the iconic Bells for ourselves. Although this ride was no more difficult than the morning’s, it felt longer and harder…beer?…too long of a rest?…out of share??? … all of the above?

Our slow climb uphill actually worked in our favor for great photos. As the afternoon sun dropped behind the peaks the reds, purples, and blues of the mountains were accentuated. But, with the setting of the sun, the temperatures dropped motivating us to hurry.

Because the Maroon Bells are one of the most photographed mountains in Colorado, they are heavily visited. If it weren’t for the amazing view, the busloads of people and number of cars parked at lake would have been a disappointment.

Putting the crowds aside, the downhill ride was a blast – smooth, fast roads, straight enough to require little braking!

A day worth repeating….

Day 2 – Hiking Craig’s Crest on Grand Mesa (7.6 miles , 878 feet)

The view from he top of Craig's Crest on Grand Mesa.
The view from he top of Craig’s Crest on Grand Mesa.

Less than an hour from home is the beautiful Grand Mesa, the largest table-top mesa in the United States. From fishing, jeeping, hunting, hiking, mountain biking and camping to snowmobiling, all-types of skiing, snowshoeing and winter camping, this mountain/mesa has it all.

With another fun day in our forecast, we needed to fuel up before we started. Taking advantage of a $10 off coupon from our “Welcome Wagon” packet, we tried out Starvin’ Arvins, a local truck stop at the Fruita exit of I-70. Both Eric’s choice, the Green Machine (green chili with pork, biscuit gravy, eggs and hash browns) and my simple Two Eggs and Bacon came with salad-plate-sized homemade cinnamon rolls before the meal. By the time our meals actually came we were buzzing on the sugar/carbo load and feeling pretty gross. But, we assured ourselves that the hike would burn off the calories.

The rock I carried down the hill for our rock garden at home.
The rock I carried down the hill for our rock garden at home.

Craig’s Crest Trail is a fun hike that starts in the scrub oak, meanders through dark pine forests filled with fir and the famous Colorado Blue spruce trees, switch-backs across rocky scree fields, and rewards hikers with a grand 360-degree vista as the climbs along a rocky spine near the top. We found a beautiful, sunny, rocky ledge where we enjoyed our sandwiches until rain drops and a darkening sky indicated it was time to get away from imminent lightening danger.

Not accustomed to hiking downhill, our legs were aching and our thighs were shaky. We both agreed that we need to keep hiking in our repertoire of activities to cross-train our muscles.

Ibuprofen and an early bedtime assured us we would be ready for day 3 of our Labor Day Trifecta.

Day 3 – Mountain Biking at the new Ridgeway Area Trails. (RAT)

The 90 minutes drive south towards Ridgeway, Colorado is beautiful with the snow-capped peaks of the San Juan Mountains appearing like a picture through the front windshield of the car during much of the ride south.

I love the "cheesy" trail names.
I love the “cheesy” trail names.

The new RAT trails are located across Highway 550 from Dennis Weaver Park (yes, it’s the Dennis Weaver of the TV shows Gunsmoke and McCloud). The parking lot was almost full with cars and young children riding their pint-sized mountain bikes around the gravel lot while waiting for their parents to join them. The children were a good indicator to us that the trails might be at our level.

As we began our ascent uphill on “The Big Cheese”, we were delighted to note that the trails were perfect for us – not too rocky, hilly, or technical – and very manageable except the sharp switchbacks near the beginning. Once we got to the top of the plateau, exploring trails like Ratical, Rat Trail and Maze was a blast! We enjoyed continuous riding without hopping off our bikes every few minutes to navigate rock ledges or loose-rocky downhills typical of the rides closer to our home. The Ridgeway trails meandered through sage brush and piñon pines with occasional views of the Ridgeway Reservoir below in the distance.

One of Eric's first days on his mountain bike.
One of Eric’s first days on his mountain bike.

After several hours of riding, we headed into the town of Ridgeway and enjoyed a late lunch at the 66 Diner, a funky establishment located in an old Airstream trailer parked on Main Street.

If this “Trifecta” is any indication of the outdoor paradise near our home, we are in for a fun retirement.

Being a “Retirement Champion”

The story behind filming “Being a Retirement Champion.”
The way connections are made in the blogosphere still amazes me. About a month ago I received a very long “comment” that appeared to be a casting call for a documentary-type film being made for a financial company. At first I thought it was spam.

But curiosity got the best of me so I “Googled” the name of the casting company, checked the email address at the bottom of the note, and visited both a Facebook page and a website to make sure this comment was not spam. It was a real company with a real request.

The “casting call” asked for answers to several questions and several pictures. I provided a link to my Wall Street Journal article (June 1, 2015),  which answered all their questions and attached a couple of pictures.

Several days later I got an email saying, “Congratulations! You’re one of several finalists.” I still didn’t know what I was a “finalist” for, but my interest was piqued.

The email stated that a film company would call me  to make arrangements to come to Colorado, film me cycling and interview me. The email also wanted to know if my parents might be available for an interview as well.(I would ask)  I was still skeptical and actually a bit worried that I might have gotten into something I might regret later and now I was involving my parents, too.
Another few days passed and  I received a lengthy email from the production company  asking for possible filming locations, a list of  interview questions, and the filming schedule. This “casting call” apparently was no joke and I was going to be on camera. This was getting exciting…

I knew exactly where to cycle – the winding switchbacks of the Colorado National Monument were perfect. And I was only stumped by one of the interview questions-  “What is retirement?”

To make a long story short, two days later, the film and production crew arrived promptly at our front door at 6:30 AM.  I had the pleasure and fun of cycling for and interviewing with the nicest group of people I could ever have imagined. They were excellent at putting us (my parents and me)  at ease and making us feel like life-long friends.

Click on this link to see some beautiful cycling roads and learn the answer to the question “What retirement means to me.”

N.B. I never did learn how the casting company found my blog…but I’m sure glad they did.

Mind Meets Monday on the Monument

The sunrise in the east makes great early morning shadows.
The sunrise in the east makes great early morning shadows.

Buzzzzzz…A 5:15 am alarm woke me from a deep sleep. I didn’t know where I was or, for that matter, why I’d set the alarm. I slowly slide the quilt off my face, forced my eyes open and looked around the room. It was still dark except for the faint glow from the screen of my phone.

After reaching over to my night stand, grabbing my cell phone and swiping the screen to shut off the alarm, I closed my eyes, pulled the quilt back over my head and dozed off.

All of a sudden, the reason for the alarm came to me. I sat up. I checked my phone to see how long I’d overslept. I stumbled out of bed.

Bike ride…helping friend train…need coffee…I’m so tired…I promised…could text and cancel…if I hurry I can gulp one cup….that Saturday ride wiped me out…my bike shorts are dirty…18 minutes to departure…you can do this…sleep…need more sleep….fill water bottles…is the coffee ready…cancel…no, don’t….

I did eventually get myself on my bike, clip into my pedals and start pedaling. My joints and muscles rejoiced with the slow spinning and stretching almost like warming up the pistons of a car on a cold day. The beam of my headlight on the pavement reminded me of Eric and my 4:45 am rides in Malaysia two years ago. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed an alarm.

Another few minutes of pedaling and the shroud of sleep lifted, my senses awakened to the predawn beauty of The Colorado National Monument. White-tailed bunnies hopped across the road in early morning playfulness, ravens called in laughter to wake the desert, emerging sunshine cast blue, pink, and red shadows on the sandstone rock formations.

Thanks goodness, mind won over my sleepy, achy body. The early ride was great start to a morning…to a Monday….to a week.

Cycling Greece – 4 Day Cycle Tour in the Peloponnese (Part 2)

Day 3 – Nafphlio to Epidavros (31.9 miles, 2361 ft.)

Looking out from Palamidi Fortress to Nafplio.
Looking out from Palamidi Fortress to Nafplio.

Saying goodbye to Nafphlio was hard because it was such a fun place to be.  Luckily,  better road conditions with less traffic, a larger shoulder, and new pavement plus stunning scenery with cobblestone paths on the edge of the seaside, rolling hills speckled with olive groves, pinkish, rocky cliffs, and were our rewards for pushing on.

Riding along the stone path surrounding the Nafplio peninsula.
Riding along the stone path surrounding the Nafplio peninsula.

By noon we were baking hot and looking for shade.  A road sign advertising a hotel 200 meters off the main highway was our excuse to take a detour for shade and water.  This “detour’ as, we’ve found many to be during our travels, ended up being the bonus for the day. After sipping Coke and chugging waters in the breeze-filled, cool shade of the grape arbor at the hotel, we then cyclied a few more kilometers down the road to Ligourio where we had a choice of cafes for lunch and a cool place for Eric to “hang out” while I made the extra 4 kilometer ride to see the world famous  Epidavros Theater, surrounding archeological site, and museum. I’m so glad I did and, as a result, seeing a Greek play performed at Epidavros is now on my bucket list.

The Epidavros Theater is still in use and has seating for 13,000.
The Epidavros Theater is still in use and has seating for 13,000.

This ancient theater, built in 300 BC, is still in excellent condition . With seating for over 13,000 people, excellent natural acoustics, and a full program of excellent summer plays, I’m only sorry that we were not going to be in Greece over the weekend. After seeing Epidavros with my own eyes and hearing the acoustics from traveling student groups clapping on stage to their friends high up in the stands, I am  impressed and it awe of  those ancient Greek builders.

A typical view while cycling the Peloponnese.
A typical view while cycling the Peloponnese.

After visiting Epidavros, I cycled back uphill to the town of Ligourio to meet up with Eric. We found a old, less traveled, mostly downhill road to the town Ancient Epidavros, our stop of the night.

A perfect place to sip fruity drinks and relax after a hot day of cycling.
A perfect place to sip fruity drinks and relax after a hot day of cycling.

Our destination was the Mouria Pansion situated directly on the beach in a peaceful, secluded cove. From the road, this hotel did not look very promising, but once we entered the lobby and passed through the dated restaurant, we found ourselves separated from the world with lush palms, oleanders, bougainvillea, manicured grass, clean beach and blue water. It was like a hidden paradise…

If ever there were a beachside bar at which to order a coctail, this is it. The bartender uses freshly squeezed oranges, lemons, and limes plus freshly grated ginger and other spices to make his drinks. I’m not usually a mixed drink fan but this marguerita was fresh, tart, and strong.

Luckily there was no need to worry about cycling under the influence because Mouria Pansion also has a restaurant. There is no menu and the waiter strongly suggests their “local cuisine” (it’s possible that’s all they had in the kitchen) but the food, like the cocktail, was tasty.

We went to bed early so we could rise early for a before-breakfast swim.

Day 4 – Epidavros to Poros ( 30.5 mi, 3182 ft.)

Today was my FAVORITE day of cycling in Greece! Hills, a good road with little traffic, beautiful views of the ocean, and a ferry ride across a beautiful bay to our final destination made this ride a joy!

As planned, we started the day with a swim in the calm waters of the bay in front of our hotel at the Mouria Panison. I loved the smooth-pebbled beach and prefer the small pebbles over fine sand because it is gentle on my feet and doesn’t leave grit between my toes.

I could have relaxed on the beach all day but it was time to move on. Leaving the town of Ancient Epidavros is a very steep, long uphill. It was so steep (or we were so out of shape) that we stopped every 100 meters or so to wipe sweat from our brows and catch our breaths.

Cycling together is NOT always a bed of roses. When Eric saw this sign he snapped, "I told you the friggin' road was less than 500 meters away!"
Cycling together is NOT always a bed of roses. When Eric saw this sign he snapped, “I told you the friggin’ road was less than 500 meters away!”

I’m convinced, however, that hills are worth it for the spectacular views and the thrill of the downhill. This leg of our journey did not disappoint. We were rewarded with azure waters, whitewashed Greek villages dotting the hillsides, and vistas of Greek islands just off the main coastline.

In the background and down the hill is the bay where we spent the night.
In the background and down the hill is the bay where we spent the night.

A great half-way stop for lunch was at Kalloni Royal Resort. The dining area on a breeze-filled patio overlooking a sparkling swimming pool filled with children’s laughter made for a refreshing place to rest and refuel with fresh grilled pork souvlaki and Greek salad.

The view from our breezy and cool lunch table.
The view from our breezy and cool lunch table.

We continued on towards the town of Galatas where we caught a short ferry across the bay to the tiny island of Poros. If ever there were an idyllic tourist picture of Greece, the view of Poros from the ferry is just that – a clock tower at the high point, white houses with red-slate roofs crowded together on the hills facing the sea connected by hidden narrow paths and stairways, and turquoise blue bay dotted with sailboats and yachts, and sandy beaches nestled in coves along the coastline – was the view from the ferry.

The town of Poros as seen from the ferry.
The town of Poros as seen from the ferry.

After cycling to our hotel, the Xenia Poros Image Hotel, we enjoyed late afternoon adult beverages, dips in the water, and several naps. We then showered, dressed for dinner, and cycled to a fish restaurant with tables strategically placed at the water’s edge for excellent views of the sunset. We enjoyed a romantic dinner, and toasted each other for this beautiful cycling experience.

The view from our hotel in Poros.
The view from our hotel in Poros.

Day 4 – Poros to Athens (10ish km – Hotel to ferry to train to bike shop)

We awoke early to catch the much-too-early 8:00 am ferry, the only ferry that would take our bikes during the busy summer tourist season, and slept on the short one-hour ride to Piraeus. We then cycled bikes to the Piraeus metro stop , rode until Theisse, retraced our ride around the Acropolis and returned our rental bikes to Athens by Bike.

This four-day add-on was a lovely compliment to our trip in Greece.

As always, there are some lessons learned and important notes about this trip.

1.It’s a little tricky to get to Corinth from Athens. The bicycle did NOT recommend cycling because of the traffic and drivers. Thus, the commute  requires a transfer from the metro to the suburban trains and the transfer is not clearly marked and involves lots of stairs because of broken elevators.

2. There is a lot of truck traffic leaving Corinth and the road is narrow and/or overgrown with weeds, oleanders, and weeds. It’s rideable but not necessarily enjoyable.

3. The roads are hilly and can be steep and not for beginner riders. The rental bikes were adequate but geared more for local, city sightseeing, not really for long tours.

4. July is hot! May or October might be better months for a Greek tour.

5. We saw only four bicycles during our entire trip. 2 were farm workers and 1 was a cycle tourist from Albania who had just gotten chewed out for riding on the expressway (not allowed). In other words, it does not seem like drivers are accustomed to cyclists although this might be improving..hard to tell.