Embarking on a cycling vacation in Greece is a dream come true for any cycling enthusiast. Recently, our group of Colorado friends—Becca, Eli, John, Kate, Mel, Quinlan, and myself—embarked on an unforgettable journey organized by Steven of Greek Cycling Holidays. This blog post recounts our thrilling experiences, picturesque landscapes, and memorable moments as we explored the charming island of Evia and mainland Greece.
Arrival and Accommodation
Steven, our knowledgeable guide and professional chef who was from England but lived in Greece for the last 20 years, made sure our journey began on a high note. Providing transportation, rental bikes, and a villa, he did his best to ensure our comfort and enjoyment throughout our stay. We were treated to delectable Greek salads, mouthwatering entrees, and delightful desserts, expertly crafted by Steven.
Saturday: Exploratory Ride in Eretria
Our adventure kicked off with an exploratory ride in the heart of Eretrea, Evia Island. As we pedaled through the scenic routes, we stumbled upon an abandoned hotel covered in graffiti art, an unexpected testament to the island’s vibrant culture and history.
Sunday: Chalkida-Mouriki-Chalkida Ride
On the mainland, we embarked on the Chalkida-Mouriki-Chalkida ride. Steven dropped us off in Chalkida, but due to a running race in Eretria, it took us a while to reach the starting point. Despite the delay, we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch by the water, relishing in a refreshing swim and ordering drinks.
Monday: An Epic Ride
Monday marked the day for our most challenging ride of the week. Becca, Kate, and I, fueled by determination, took on a grueling 120-kilometer route with almost 10,000 feet of climbing.
I learned firsthand the difficulty of keeping up with the pace of Becca, who is a near-elite triathlete who aims to get her Pro card this year. While I struggled, I also marveled at the incredible fitness level of my friend (and Becca’s mom) Kate, who is 60 years old.
On the first big climb, I tried to keep up with Becca, which was a mistake. Two-thirds of the way up on Climb #1, Kate dropped me and my legs blew up soon after. They never recovered and both Kate and Becca would have to wait for me at the top of the remaining climbs of the day.
Climb #2 had some of the steepest pitches. My legs were done but at least we were able to stop in a town of Stropones that was having a festival. We found a quiet café-bar where we could imbibe a Coke and indulge in an ice cream.
On Climb #3, I went extremely slow. At least I felt better than Climb #2
We all expected the fourth and final to be not nearly as steep. Therefore, I started a bit fast and tried to keep up with Becca and Kate. Of course, legs blew up again.
All in all, this shorter-than-a-century ride turned out to be one of the hardest things I have done in the last six years. “I think that might have been harder than running four marathons in six days,” I remarked, although that thought might have been influenced by recency bias. My main consolation was that I didn’t have to stop or walk on the climbs.
Below is a compilation of point-of-view video clips from this epic ride.
Tuesday: Rest and Athens Exploration
Tuesday offered us a well-deserved rest day, which we utilized to visit the historic city of Athens, immersing ourselves in its rich culture and ancient wonders.
Wednesday: Monastery, Winery, and Relaxation
We embarked on an uphill ride to a picturesque monastery, where we reunited with Eli and Quinlan. Descending to Avantis Estate winery, we rendezvoused with John and Mel, treating ourselves to a rejuvenating hour in the jacuzzi and indulging in a blissful deep-tissue massage.
Thursday: Mini-Epic Ride and Scenic Coastline
Thursday brought a mini-epic ride with an 800-meter climb followed by a 300-meter ascent. With improved pacing, I successfully kept up with Becca and Kate, relishing in the breathtaking views amidst the cloud-covered climbs.
The day ended with a joyful meet-up with Eli and Quinlan at a coffee shop and a pacelined ride back to Eritrea along the picturesque coastline.
Below is a compilation of point-of-view video clips from this mini-epic.
Friday: Exploring Makrykappa and Unexpected Challenges
On Friday, we decided to opt for a shorter ride with the rest of the group instead of tackling another ride with long climbs alongside Becca and Kate. The day brought sweltering heat, but we were still in for some significant climbs of medium length. During our journey, we made a refreshing stop in Makrykappa to regroup and have some drinks.
Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I experienced a flat front tire. The struggle to remount the Cheng Shin 700x28c tire onto the Chris Boardman tubeless-ready wheels proved challenging, and I ended up pinching both of the spare tubes. I also broke a tire lever.
Thankfully, Steve ultimately came to my rescue. He explained that those Boardman wheels must be slightly oversized because he has had trouble mounting any brand of tire onto it. In any case, my ride was done for the day.
Afterward, I ran a mile along the stunning Eubean Gulf in Eretria with Kate and Mel, followed by a refreshing 300-meter swim in the sea. To cap off the day’s adventures, we relaxed by the shore, sipping on drinks and reminiscing about our incredible cycling journey.
Saturday: Uphill Strava Segment Run
I concluded the week on Evia Island with a Saturday morning run, including a challenging uphill 750-meter Strava segment. Mel was out going for a walk when I passe huffing and puffing up the final steep section.
Becca would later post on Facebook,
We had the best vacation (or training camp?😝) in Greece! Most of our time was spent on Evia Island, cycling around the island with Greek Cycle Holidays, enjoying some epic climbs, scenic routes, and amazing food. Over the week, Kate Pribor Schulte and I biked 250+ miles and 27,000+ ft of elevation! Then we enjoyed a couple days of relaxation on Hydra Island!
Thanks mom and dad for the best graduation present (a year late)!
It was indeed both a good vacation and training camp. I certainly felt in better cycling shape by the end of it!
Notes and Tips
This was my first semi-organized multi-day cycling tour. I’ve mainly only done self-supported rides in the past.
I’d recommend such a cycling vacation with the following caveats:
- Bring bug repellent. The room I stayed in at the villa lacked window screens, and the air conditioner wasn’t working. Therefore, the room got very hot, and we had to have the windows open and were swarmed by mosquitoes. By the end of the week I resorted to sleeping in a light jacket and jeans, but still got bit on my face and hands.
- Be careful on the descents. During the last two months, two cyclists crashed due to riding down them too quickly. One was still in the hospital while we were there. We had no close calls, but we were super cautious descending.
If you are interested in doing a similar cycling vacation, contact Steven at Greek Cycle Holidays.