Day 19: Limni to Lefkimmi, ferry to Igoumenitsa and then 85 km ride to Ligia
The 50 km ride across Corfu was powered by the finest bakery products available in the first bakery I passed on route, which was after about ½ km. No more cheap, plasticy, 7Days croissants that were what I’d been buying in The Balkans. Oh no, not now I was somewhere civilised. The fine bakery products provided the perfect pacing and I arrived in Lefkimmi minutes before the ferry departed.
After a pleasant ferry journey I was nearing the mainland. I had planned to follow the E55, but as I had plenty of time decided to stick more to the coast and go via Syvota and Parga, which would be longer and hillier, but hopefully more interesting. It was certainly hilly, with the road rising up to nearly 400 m. When climbing I could see the sun cream being washed out of my pores due to the amount of sweat I was producing. Nice. The road was certainly beautiful and any view could have been placed onto a postcard. I stopped in Parga for lunch and enjoyed the shade for a while.
I then re-joined the main road, admired the views across the Acheron river delta and then flogged up the hill on the other side. The climb was the long, straight and of a constant gradient, so boring, and seemingly never ending. The descent back to the sea was sinuous, bumpy and fun. I then road along the along coast road and I was hoping there would be a campsite somewhere as for once I hadn’t checked in advance. It was a strange feeling of not knowing how far I would have to ride until I would find somewhere to stay for the night, but I did find a good site for the night. As the campsite was right next to the sea I had to go swimming once I had erected my home.
Day 20: Ligia to Vasiliki, ferry to Fiskardo and then 40 km to Sami
My flight home was booked from Kefalonia, which was my destination for today. Another early start meant a glorious sunrise and the enjoyment of cool temperatures. The only other people out were also running or walking in the cool morning. More stunning views as well.
My first worry of the day was the Preveza- Aktion tunnel. Cycling is banned in the tunnel and it is 140 km route to avoid the tunnel. I’d read there was a service for cyclists, but when I got to the entrance there was nothing obvious, and a local man was very insistent I wasn’t to attempt to cycle through the tunnel. There was a CCTV camera, so I smiled, pointed at my bike & then the tunnel. Two minutes later a yellow flatbed pick up arrived, my bike was dumped in the back, the driver and I chatted and I was through the tunnel. It is a toll tunnel, but free for bikes. The Dartford crossing service is no longer 24/7. We in the UK could learn a lot.
The ride from there to ferry was great. I saw a house on a tiny island, which I assumed was a hermitage. I went across the causeway onto Lefakada, which was beautiful. The towns are touristy, but not built up so still feel pleasant. The ferry gave views of the islands and then I was on Kefalonia. Whoop. I had made it, although I still needed to reach Argostoli, which is the main town. Shame I couldn’t stay on one of the super-yachts.
I had planned to ride to Argostoli, but there were road divisions in place, for reasons unknown. I dutifully followed the divisions and ended up climbing to 620 m, which was rather unexpected! I then was sent back down to sea level, but was now on the wrong side of the island and the signs to Argostoli pointed me back over another 600 m hill. It was very windy (going downhill meant either pedalling to do 20 kph or getting scared by my speed, depending on the direction of the road) & already 4 pm. I was in no rush, so found a campsite in Sami that was just a few km away, went swimming in the sea and then walked into town for a beer. Everything was beautiful.
Day 21: Sami to Argostoli
Today I would reach Argostoli, which would be the end of the tour and from where I would fly home. Sami to Argostoli is less than 30 km and I had all day, so decided to cycle there via the southern part of Kefalonia. The day started by climbing to over 500 m. It was difficult to tell how the road would escape the valley as there was no obvious route, but it managed and the reward was views out to sea, a drinking fountain and a decent back down to sea level.
I followed the coast, with a few undulations thrown in for good measure. All the time I was riding along in awe of the scenery. This was another road that requried driving music, so I put the iPod on and sang along to myself.
Kefalonia seems to be good at making honey as there are lots of beehives.
I got to Argostoli, stopped at Ainos Bicycles to enquire about a bike box and was told to return the next day to pick up a box. Result. I then rode up to the campsite and once again went swimming. Touring in Greece is hard work! Tomorrow would be my final day.
Day 22: Argostoli to Lixouri
In the morning I walked back to Argostoli to collect my bike box and had breakfast in town. After removing the mudguards, Carradice and Carradice rack I rode around to Lixouri. I was looking forward to riding the bike without the luggage, but it actually felt really strange. It was another fabulous ride, with views across the bay back to Argostoli, quiet roads and a ferry ride back to town. All that was left to do was to pack the bike into the box; book a taxi to the airport and go to bed for the final night.
The flight back to London the next morning was straightforward and it seemed remarkably how quick it was to return to the UK.
The GPX tracklogs from each day are below:
- Day 19 part i: Limni (Corfu) to Lefkimmi (Corfu)
- Day 19 part ii: Igoumenitsa (Greek mainland) to Ligia
- Day 20 part i: Ligia (Greek mainland) to Vasiliki (Lefkada)
- Day 20 part ii: Fiskardo (Kefalonia) to Sami
- Day 21: Sami to Argostoli
- Day 22: Argostoli to Lixouri
The whole route can be viewed here click:
- Ribble aluminium audax bike from 2008
- Rear wheel was a 32 h Mavic Open Pro built onto a Miche Racing Box hub with a 28 cc Specialized All Condition Armadillo tyre
- Front wheel was a 32 h Mavic Open built onto a Goldtec hub with a 23 cc Michelin Lithion tyre
- SKS mudguards (with the rear fitted using cable ties to give me enough clearance for the 28 cc tyre)
- Charge Spoon Ti saddle
- Planet X seatpost
- SPDs and SiDi T2 shoes (nice & airy, so good for hot weather)
- Compact Campagnolo Mirage chainset (34 T / 50 T) with 10 speed 13 – 26 cassette
- Garmin Etrex 20
- Hope Vision 1 front light
- Force10 Helium Carbon 100 tent
- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir
- Montane Featherlite sleeping bag & Kathmandu silk liner
- Mammut inflatable pillow
- x2 pairs bib shorts
- x2 short sleeved tops
- x1 Gore arm warmers
- x1 Assos knee warmers
- x1 Gore Oxygen waterproof jacket
- x2 pairs cycling socks
- x1 short sleeved Merino base layer (for evening wear or in case it was cold cycling)
- x1 long sleeve Merino base layer (for evening wear or in case it was cold cycling)
- x1 lightweight pair of shorts for wearing in evenings
- x1 flipflops
- x1 Assos cap
- x1 sunglasses (with spare lenses)
- x2 750 ml bibons
- Various tools & pump
I carried that lot in a large Wildcat Ocelot and a Carradice Nelson Longflap, which was attached to the bike using a Bagman2 Support – Expedition (here’s a picture: click) and a Carrdaice saddlebag clamp.