Day 1: Athens to Diakoptou

Day 1: Athens to Diakoptou

A little further along, the road approached the water, so we stopped to ceremoniously dip our wheels in the Aegean.

by Donald Hess

We didn't get to bed until 1:00 am last night but set our alarms for 6:10 am today, trying to balance enough sleep with an early start as the temperature was to reach the mid 90's and we had about 100 miles to cover. Although we felt we had sorted nearly everything, there were still a few last-minute decisions: "Should we bring the extra sunscreen?" and a few firsts that would quickly become routine, such as strapping our seat packs to the bike. Whatever we brought today, we would likely have for the next three weeks, and when we finally closed the door at 7:30 am, everything else stayed. Our hosts were happy to dispose of our bike boxes and packing materials.

Getting out of Athens was very easy. We quickly found the correct route out and Athens to Amsterdam Day 1were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the road surfaces, as we would the entire day. Just outside of Athens, we had a small mishap. Dave's front derailleur was not working, and he was trapped in the small chain ring. This might be OK on a day with lots of climbs but today's route was relatively flat. We pulled over and were able to make the repair.

A little further along, the road approached the water, so we stopped to ceremoniously dip our rear wheels in the Aegean.

The plan is in three weeks to dip our front wheels in the North Sea when we get to Amsterdam. We did the same 5 years ago first with the Pacific than the Atlantic 4 weeks later.

The plan was for lunch in Corinth, which would be about halfway. The first part of the day was cycling with the Aegean to the left, and after Corinth, we would be cycling with the Gulf of Corinth, and the inlet of the Ionian Sea, to the right. As we crossed the isthmus connecting the two, we rode past the spectacular Corinth Canal.

Athens to Amsterdam Day 1

We ate lunch at Number 1, the fifth-best place to eat on TripAdvisor but the Athens to Amsterdam Day 1closest of the top 10 to the street corner where we stopped to check. At lunch, a couple who noticed our matching jerseys engaged us in conversation. They were amazed at our ambition, and the husband expressed a strong interest in joining us had he been training. A third man overheard our conversation and asked to take our picture. On our way out of the city, we lined up our biked and took our picture with Pegasus.

The afternoon was very, very hot. No breeze other than what we generated riding, and little shade as the road was mostly on the coast, and temperatures in the mid-90's. At one point when we stopped at a red light, the lack of breeze and the reflected heat from the asphalt made the heat index acutely rise. Feeling this heat and the potential danger, the two emergency medicine physicians advised running the light to stay cool but were overruled by the political scientist who felt we should follow the law at least on the first day.

We took three breaks in the afternoon, two to escape the heat and one when I had a flat on my rear wheel tire, only four miles out from our destination.

Athens to Amsterdam Day 1

After a speedy repair, we were quickly at the Panorama Hotel in Diakopto. Despite the heat, the final 20 miles had been along a coastal two-lane road on the edge of mountains as they entered the sea, reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

Athens to Amsterdam Day 1

This is the view from our hotel looking back at the road that brought us in.

Athens to Amsterdam Day 1

We went for a swim, took turns showering, and enjoyed the views from our room before having dinner in the hotel restaurant.

It's 10 pm. Patrick and Dave are asleep (neither were able to sleep the night before we left due to their ER shifts), and Justin is tinkering with our route for tomorrow. This was our last booked hotel, so my sister Gail has offered to find us a place in Menidi for tomorrow. 

Athens to Amsterdam Day 1

Here is our route on Strava. If anyone is on Strava and wants to see more details, follow one of us.

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Athens to Amsterdam - Donald HessDonald is a minimally invasive surgeon at Boston University and is the director of the surgery residency program. He first became interested in distance athletics when he was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. It was there that he was introduced to triathlons, completed his first marathon, and went on to do a full ironman (Ironman California 2000). He has lived in Boston for the past 19 years where he has completed over 15 marathons including 6 Boston marathons, many half-ironman distance triathlons and countless adventure races. He first thought of attempting a cross country bike ride after participating in the 148-mile Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride in 2008, and rode across the U.S. in 2014 from Seattle to Boston with Dave and Justin.