Although our Greek buddy initially said he would ride a few miles with us, he hung on...
by Dave Young
Today was a long day. We set off early knowing we were going to try to cover 120 miles and to avoid the heat as long as possible. We skipped breakfast at our hotel and decided to grab a bite at a small cafe 20 miles in.
We cruised into Rio 20 miles later and found an epic bridge, the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, which is 7388ft long (the third-longest cable-stayed bridge in the world). We biked across on the pedestrian walkway and took a few pictures along the way.
We sped up a few long gradual uphills where the heat really got us. It was a tough slog, but we came across a pristine gas station tended to by a man who didn't stop cleaning the grounds while we were there. We had a couple of cold sodas, stretched a bit, and headed out another 20 miles before stopping for lunch.
Sadly, the place we planned for lunch was closed. We cycled around looking for any place to eat. We found ourselves starving at this point as we had very little to eat all day, and we were 78 miles in. We stumbled upon a cafe sign and asked if they had food for sale. They only had Coke but told us that their mother would make us food if we wanted. That seemed super authentic, so we went for it (Cokes as well). We had the most amazingly fresh Greek salad and hard-boiled eggs from their chickens. When we tried to pay, they refused money telling us we were their guests. We managed to pay for the Cokes at least and headed on our way.
At mile 95, we were ready for another break; we were running out of water and needed to escape the heat. We found what appeared to be a gas station. Instead, it was a roadside industrial building. We asked if they had any water, and a man came out with 4 cold bottled waters. Again, just giving them to us for free.
We were still on the hunt for a more substantial break, in some shade and with some calories. The next gas station at mile 99 had more cold soda, which we downed, but no snacks. It was hot as hell at this time of the day, and we were all feeling a bit dehydrated. We hung out at a little table in front of the gas station to recover a little from the heat and mileage. Our handsome neighborhood gas station attendant started up a conversation about cycling. Don immediately asked if he had a bike pump as our ultra-light carbon mini pump hasn't been getting our tire pressures up enough. He filled up our tires and told us to wait. A minute later, he showed up in a bike kit ready to ride with us.
We rode the next 15 miles, 5 in a pace line, slamming through some mileage. The heat eventually got the best of me, and I slowed way down from the group despite only having a few miles left in the day. Although our Greek buddy initially said he would ride a few miles with us, he hung on until this point. Eventually, I came up the hill. He was saying bye to the other guys, and he reached into his pocket to give me something, which I was really hoping was his number. It instead was some sweaty GU packet; telling me, "You need this."
We floated down the last several miles into the beautiful town of Menidi. Our place is large and air-conditioned! The first place where we sat down, we ordered some beers, later realizing they weren't serving dinner. The waiter took pity on us, dropping off a plate of Greek snacks (for free yet again!). We finished those off in minutes and headed to a restaurant Don found online. We had a wonderful meal along the shores of the Ambracian Gulf. Totally stuffed, I'm now in bed, exhausted from the day, including even my fingers, so there will be no more typing. Goodnight!
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ABOUT DAVE YOUNG