The South coast has been beckoning for some time, I have been wanting to do some cycling there for a while. The road between Paleochora and Sougia promised to be spectacular.
Studying the map, I wasn’t sure it was paved all the way through. Not a big deal either case, as we loaded the trusty Hillmaster electric mountain bike on the van.
We also planned to do some of the cycling together, and loaded bikes for all the family. Sofia is still too short to ride one of our electric bikes, she rides a plain mountain bike that was originally Giulia’s. This limits our range together a bit, and we decided to pedal the first flat part together until the road becomes too steep.
We drove from home in the morning, on the mostly quiet mountain roads from Kissamos. In about an hour, we were buying lunch from the bakery in Paleochora.
The road climbed regularly, up and up and up. I kept the assistance always on the lowest level, Eco, I wanted to make an effort! I cycled through Anidri village, I zig-zagged on. Low Mediterranean scrub everywhere, sea views in the distance. I passed the village of Prodromi, the road was still paved all the way. Some trees in the small valleys, plane and carob trees.
I was getting higher, the air was cooler. Gavdos island was there, in the hazy distance. Pine trees on the roadside now! I met 4 cars in 15km, about one hour of cycling. The col was marked by a blue and white church, stereotypical of Greece but not a common sight in Crete. Shortly after, I rejoined the ‘main’ road going from Paleochora.
On my right, the valley side facing North was now covered by a proper tree forest, an interesting change! I took a break for some water and banana in Rodovani, wondering how far behind the girls driving to Sougia I would be.
Then I launched myself into a full speed descent towards Sougia. Corner after corner, I tried to slow down as little as possible, touching a maximum speed of 60 km/h. Pines on both sides of the road, until I reached the valley bottom with the river bed on my left, marking the arrival in Sougia. I must have done the 15km in half an hour.
Sougia was hot and sticky. The sun was not shining very strong, but the air was not really moving. I found the girls already cooling down in the sea.
Fiona came to meet me. We had a picnic all together in the shade of a tamerisk behind the beach. After food, we moved back to the shore for a refreshing swim.
Even the sea was hazy! We swam along the beach, going East, towards the big rocks just a few metres off shore. There were continuous changes in temperature in the sea. Cool, hazy surface, a warmer layer of water below, then cool again at some depth. We spotted some small groupers and some lionfish hiding between some rocks on the bottom.
We found some waves between the rocks. We swam around them, the water was clearer here. We saw plenty of fish, damselfish and many very big and bright saddled seabreams. Cretan parrotfish, of course. We passed some submerged rocks, circled the big rock sticking out and swam back. A beautiful swim.
We walked into town for an ice-cream, then drove home.
Max elevation: 759 m
Min elevation: -9 m
Total climbing: 876 m
Total descent: -856 m
Total time: 02:16:25