Kris on a Bike: A cycle to the Cyclades

 
 

otwo’s Kris Goodbody shares his tour diary as he cycles from Blackrock to Greece

I hate flying, but I love finding myself in far-flung places – and I’ll be the first to admit that this is not a winning combination. Often I find myself looking for some sort of underhanded, cunning method to avoid any form of aviation yet still find adventure, and this summer I think I might have hit the nail on the head.

While pouring over some maps and drinking a few beers with the lads one evening, I discovered that it would probably be foolish not to cycle from my house to Athens over the course of six weeks, and to then safely at sea level continue by ferry to the Cyclades islands in the Aegean. So managing to convince a few good men to come with me, one of whom has a boarder-line sordid love affair with maps, and acquiring a few bikes we were set to go.

Two months later and with collectively about twelve hours cycling experience between us we set off from my house in Blackrock, through a makeshift starting line made of toilet paper, to drag 50kg of bike and bags across 2,000 kilometres to the Athenian port of Pireaus. In the coming weeks we would find ourselves cycling through Paris and down the beautiful west coast of France, traversing mountain ranges in the Pyrenees, stopping only briefly to get chased down the streets of Pamplona by severely pissed off bulls, drinking moonshine in the Adriatic with unnervingly friendly Turkish truck drivers, examining very closely the fascinating driving styles adopted by the Italians, along with the odd other experience or ten.

Firstly though we had to find our way up the slightly inclined road outside my house and onto the N11, all of us hoping against hope that we’d at least make it round the corner and out of sight before we collapsed in a heap. To our surprise we began to make good time and as we swung onto the long straight road that was going to lead us out of Ireland, uncertainty turned to excitement and the sense of adventure swelled as we realised that we might actually have a chance of pulling this off.

To everyone’s surprise, not least my own, we completed the first 85 kilometres in a reasonable five and a half hours – exhausted, and with a renewed appreciation for the number of dead things on the sides of Irish roads – we pulled into Courtown for our first night. After a fitful sleep and a minor sexual assault by a bulldog, we were ready to begin the day that would take us to Rosslare harbour and onto a boat bound for France.

The second day saw the beginning of the plague of sore arses that would hound us until Athens, but our minds seemed to relax and wander as our legs surrendered to the monotonous robotic motion they’d be adopting for the coming six weeks. As the boat pulled out from the harbour we sat there drinking a few well-earned cans not knowing in the least what a self powered two-wheeled excursion through Europe would hold in store for us. As we lay on the tiled floor of the ferry’s bar listening to the strange lullaby of Latvian truck drivers drunkenly smashing bottles over each other, it was with that rare and brilliant combination of dread and adrenaline that we fell into a deep sleep.

Find out more of Kris’s two-wheeled adventure in next fortnight’s issue.

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