Change: Xanthi to Before Alexandroupolis. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

January 24, 2014

Change: Xanthi to Before Alexandroupolis.

I WAKE THESE MORNINGS at six thirty and am on the road around seven as the sun rises. This morning though is overcast and the sun isn't visible. The eastern horizon a band of rosy pink. I've heard the old saying "Pink sky in the morning. Sailors warning." meaning a storm is on the way.

10.00. There was a little sun but it's clouding over again.
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The cloud cover breaks up around nine as the road crosses marshes, with open water of a lagoon on either side for a bit. I stop for breakfast by a watercourse a little further, hoping the clouds will clear away completely, but before setting off again, dark clouds move in and the sun is gone for the day.

I reach the next town, Komotini a little later and stop at a café on the way out the other side. The time is 11.25 on the wall clock, but the time on my netbook is an hour earlier. And the time on the receipt for the coffee agrees. I had thought perhaps Greece is an hour ahead of Central Europe, as I've seen lots of clocks an hour fast. But the supermarket receipt is always the same as my computer and camera. So have come to the conclusion these clocks haven't been put back an hour in October.

I spend quite a while reading the replies to a particular forum on this site (CGOAB), concerning the tragic shooting of six policemen escorting a Spanish cyclist in Pakistan. I never quite thought of this... I suppose what am trying to say, I've always toured in safe regions, and it makes me realise how privileged we in the west are that can load our bikes and set off on a many year cycle-tour, passing through areas of the world where most won't have left the region they were born into, nor never will because of lack of opportunity, economic or otherwise. An example is the young woman I knew in La Paz that never had been beyond the city limits never mind the surrounding Andean Highlands, and perhaps never would even see the Pacific, or any of the world's Oceans.

Noon and afternoon rolls round with increasing dark cloud, shafts of rain and a bugger range of hills ahead, in which there is no escaping a long stiff climb. I stop in a rest-place at the top and eat a cheese sandwich and watch the rain get closer.

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The rain holds off as I cycle further along a hilltop almost in the clouds. The road should soon descend though, because checking the map back at the stop, I was reminded that the next town, Alexandroupolis which I should be getting near, is by the coast. But the road goes on for quite a way high up with the distant din of traffic and motorway visible along the valley below. Eventually it does begin to descend, but I see no sign of the sea because of low cloud. At this point I stop to take a photo as just below, the motorway snakes out of the valley and winds through and over the gentle low hills ahead. There's a single carriageway road parallel: also serpent-like, it winds out and around the back of a hillock to the left of the motorway, then back to continue alongside.

Tenting up for the night.
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With the camera back in the bag, the road ahead swings left, dropping down abruptly, then passes underneath the motorway at the bottom. I continue round the hill and then back and onwards with cars whizzing by in both directions on the motorway to the right; while on the left, there's woodland. Alexandroupolis shouldn't be far now and it must be after four o'clock, so I turn off up a track going gradually uphill and away from the traffic noise, going on for a kilometre on good compressed forest road to the quietness of a small valley. There the track ends at a level grassy spot on the bank of a dry river. It is spitting rain now so, I get the tent out and up quickly, but it doesn't really start raining yet until later in the evening, when it comes on a heavy battering rumbling on the tent. There are moments in which light flashes and all is illuminated and seconds later, there's an almighty loud bang followed by brattling thunder.

Today's ride: 98 km (61 miles)
Total: 9,996 km (6,208 miles)

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