Interesting conversation last night. Our local guide Christos was talking about Greeks going on vacation, said "activities" like biking, running, hiking were not all that popular. I mentioned that the most successful long distance runner of modern times is Greek. He said, oh, Yannis Kouros? He lives in my town, I know him. And then had a few anecdotes.
cycling1:46:11 10.8 mi (9:50 / mi) +388m8:51 / mi ahr:110 max:156
First half of today's ride, from Vytina to Piano. Very cold, a little spitting, alpine conditions. Started with a pretty vigorous climb for about 4 miles, switchbacks through Alpine forest with thick conifers, then a descent until we went by the small road up into the town where we stopped for lunch. Beautiful countryside, very green, not at all what we had expected from Greece, and wearing all the clothes we brought. Nice views of the valley from a balcony behind the church. We saw a bent old lady with her donkey, going up the steep hill to the upper town holding onto the donkey's tail.
We are eating a fair amount. Lunch included spanakopita, skewers of grilled pork, lots of feta, yogurt, olives, a greek salad, etc.
cycling1:29:33 13.55 mi (6:37 / mi) +159m6:23 / mi ahr:109 max:157
Then the rest of the ride down to Tripoli, our lodging for the next two nights. Down for quite a bit, then a fairly stiff climb up and over a ridge and the final descent to town, riding together through the city streets to the hotel.
There are 6 e-bikes on the trip and 8 clients on regular bikes, plus the local guide and the tour operators Chuck and Judy on their tandem. Christos the guide is pretty much the strongest, although one woman Kate from Oklahoma might get away from him if given the chance. We are fairly strung out. I am the next strongest on the uphills, but when they are long some of the e-bikes come and pass me. None of them are catching Kate, though. On the downhills, John from LA is close to Kate, and I am next but a ways back. The e-bikes are a fair amount slower on the downhills. Then not too far back from me are Rhonda and Kate's husband Cade. Chuck and Judy are very strong, but they keep the rear to make sure everybody is making it.
Dinner was a rather dragged out affair, little local place several blocks from the hotel, lots of rounds of salad and appetizers, greek salad, lettuce salad, some baked cheese, very hot, zucchini fritters, french fries, some other things. Then main course was pureed eggplant with stewed beef and shaved cheese. OK, not that compelling to me. By then the smokers were in full force in the restaurant and we felt pretty chased out. Good because it was late anyway. According to Christos, the EU has tried to crack down on indoor smoking, but the Greeks won't have any of it, won't pay the fines, won't modify their behavior, etc.
We are also getting quite a bit of Greek history from Christos, getting lots of info on the war of independence from the Ottomans in 1821, seeing the monuments to the local heroes of the war, etc.