Day 15 - Thessaloniki to Gyavato: A change of pace - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

January 30, 2015

Day 15 - Thessaloniki to Gyavato: A change of pace

The plan was to get out of Greece and therefore stop using precious Schengen days because, you know, who would want to spend more time in warm countries during the winter? After crossing the border, I would have time to meander, to take smaller roads, to get stuck somewhere because of the weather.

Getting out of Thessaloniki wasn't fun, but at least it was flat. Between the drivers and the road surface of large lumps and ridges, it was slow and uncomfortable since I am not very agile when I weigh this much (and the weight is too high up on the front, but it's the only way the rack would fit). Greece just isn't a bike-friendly country, and navigating city traffic anywhere isn't fun.

Not much to note on the way out of Greece, just that the E75 apparently has a law that all traffic must drive on the shoulder. And on a more serious note, I met the first dogs I had to get off the bike to deal with, after the lead dog got too close to my foot.

Even though the strong tailwind the weather forecast promised never materialized, I made pretty good time to the border and got myself out of Greece. The Macedonian side had a lane for Macedonians and a lane for EU citizens and no lane for everyone else, so I pondered that for a minute then decided it didn't matter which one I picked. Got me thinking I should pick the wrong line next time I go through immigration at an airport, see what happens.

After the border, I didn't know which road to pick and ended up backtracking a couple times before settling on what my GPS showed was a minor road. No more rushing for me; it was time to take the scenic route. This route took me on a single lane road through fields and vineyards and to a village, where everyone told me the road ended and I would have to go back. I didn't want to backtrack the 5km or so, so I asked around and it turned out that there was a road, albeit a very bad one. We shall see.

A woman outside her house waved me over. The way she moved her arm, I first thought she was telling me to go back, but she was rather insistently inviting me in for coffee. And then cooked me a meal. And then invited me to stay the night. Really nice family. The adult son spoke some English and told me that times have been bad in Macedonia for a decade, that he can't find work here and can't get a visa to work anywhere else. It's a familiar story by now, but it still makes me uncomfortable because here I am, travelling for fun, on a tight budget only so I can travel longer, confident of having work when I go home. Taking from people with less than me, people I will never repay. Simply getting a bed for the night isn't a problem, it's when they start feeding me, too, that I get uncomfortable. Though apparently not uncomfortable enough to refuse these invitations.

I adjusted my cleats and now the left foot is clipping in very easily/naturally, which must be a good sign. The right one is about the same. I moved the saddle, too, but my legs started to go numb, so I moved it again and am okay with it now, though I still need to fiddle with it because my quads are working too hard and I'm sliding a bit. No complaints from the knees, though.

Today's ride: 87 km (54 miles)
Total: 790 km (491 miles)

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