Bike trip to celebrate graduation (Lamia – Patra) (a photo travelogue)

On 12th of December I went to the city of Lamia to get my bachelor’s degree. It took me almost 13 years to finish this university (wayy above average), so a degree in my hand after all those anxiety filled years would be be a great way to end a pretty good year. Anyway, the dream was always to take some friends and ride our bikes to my University in Lamia city, take the degree and come back. But due to the limited time I had, I decided to only do the return by bike. And alone, because no one was available. So, I went over there by car, spent some minutes in a boring ceremony, took the degree, had a good nights sleep in a friends house and started fresh in the early morning the next day. I was prepared for a very cold sleepover in the mountains and maybe one urban one in the cities close to the sea line. My worry wasn’t the hard route I chose to go -through the beautiful mountains of Fthiotida and Fokida states- but the infamous Shepard dogs of the area around the Vardousia mountains. I have heard stories of enduro moto bikers who were more than 3 and had to turn back and change their route because of those big wolf eaters. I consider myself experienced when it comes to shepherding dogs, but the thought of me being alone in the dark on those mountains with killer dogs around wasn’t very relaxing (instead of a wild killer dog, I’ve met a very different kind of dog with whom I had a very interesting and sad interaction – will tell the story in a photograph below).

But I wouldn’t let that ruin my trip, so I made a stick from hardwood to carry it on my bags while I was cycling, and in case of an emergency I would pull it out instantly. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it, and that was probably because I change the second part of the route after a recommendation of a villager I met in the beautiful Pavliani village. I regret it afterward because I ended up in a part of a very dangerous national road full of deadly trucks. The next part close to the sea wasn’t that bad though.

You can see both the routes here (the original I had planned and the new one via the national road):

So here is the Trip with pictures:

Leaving Lamia
Leaving the city I spent some of the most carefree, sweet and fun days of my life (in the background)
Spooky doll
What a weird sight that is. On the front gate of a small farm, I spotted this. Spooky!
Small stop for a snack
The sky keeps giving me worrying signs as I stop for a snack before I reach beautiful Koumaritsi village
Bike tour - Fthiotida mountains
The view is always amazing with mountains all around and beautiful autumn colors covering everything
Cycling route in Pavliani
From Koumaritsi to Pavliani there is this beautiful dirt road that’s split in half a thick fir tree forest of the Oeta mountain. Oeati mountain is the mythical burial site of Hercules.
beautiful greek forest
I wish I could have stayed and slept in that magical place. I was walking slowly in awe as I was listening to a quiet bird orchestra singing the ode to the mother nature.
cat drawing on the wall
And here is Pavliani. With those very interesting drawings on the doors and walls.
melomakarona on the bike
Here is when I had a small break to eat some traditional Greek Christmas sweet as a celebration for the end of the climb. Unfortunately, I realized a few minutes later, that I was sadly mistaken. The sweets were great though
me and my bike
Here is the actual spot where a huge descent (around 30km) was starting. Breathtaking panorama!
Panorama after new pavliani
This is the panorama. I can sleep here!
sleep on the beach
After 30 km of descent and some more till I reached Galaxidi (a city by the sea), I decided I should stop and have a sleep on the beach. TIP: sleep on pebbles is amazing because you can shape your ‘mattress’ as you like!
Amazing dog
Here is the interesting and sad story of that dog.

As I was passing a hub on the road, I see two dogs looking at me. After some seconds the dog in the photo above started to chase me. At the beginning, I thought he wanted to scare me off his area, but after awhile I realized that he just wanted the company. He just led the way and wouldn’t allow me to pass him. As he was running ahead of me, he would grab with his mouth garbage from the side of the road and let them drop in front of me. By the way, he was looking very healthy and strong. He was well fed it seemed. My first attempts to make him stop following me failed. I would stop and wait till he was some meters away sniffing around and then suddenly go as hard as I could for 2 of 3 kms. It was impossible to lose him. I gave up for a while and kept cycling until I saw a very big descent ahead. I was afraid that he would lose his way home and wanted to make him lose me as soon as possible. So I stopped before the descent and waited for him to start sniffing around. Then, jumped on the bike and started pedaling as hard as I could for 5-10 kms. I looked behind and he was gone. At that time I saw a hawk gliding above me and took my camera out to take a photograph of it. And then I saw this amazing dog running like crazy towards me. His legs were shaking, foaming at the mouth and breathing heavily as he was looking at me with his emotional eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I have never seen anything like it. How can you leave a dog after that? Unfortunately, I couldn’t take him with me. Would have been impossible to carry him for the next 140 kms and my house is very tiny for a big dog like this. I had to try again to lose him. I was heartbroken. I was looking at him as he was resting beside me and his eyes were full of love and loyalty. How can you leave a dog like this? I get on the bike again and started pedaling as hard as I could for as long as I could. I even climb some hills full speed. And as I was cycling I was turning my head behind me every few seconds and this dog was still chasing me. But the poor dog was tired and couldn’t run as fast, and as I was gliding down the hills I was getting further and further away. But even after awhile I could see a small white dot at the distance still running like crazy…
This dog still haunts me for some reason. I felt terrible for leaving a special creature like this behind after all his efforts to be in my company. I should have played with him a little more at least. But… you know, the ‘should have’ never solved anything…

Beans soup
After many hard kms, I took out my special recipe for some boosting. Beans!
The national road although it has some traffic, it has nice scenery
cycle path nafpaktos
At least, after so many kms on the national road, a nice and free cycle path!
Old deserted slides....
Old deserted slides….
….Something to remind us that this beach used to have people swimming and playing…

I really enjoyed that trip. And if I didn’t choose to follow the route of the villager it would have been even better. Beautiful scenery, not so good weather and sweet memories!

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