The Spartan Way - Peloponnese Peninsula on two Africa Twins

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by tserts, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    Ancient Spartans were known not only for their military discipline, but for their simple and unluxurious way of life. The travellers involved in this report can only be described by the latter.

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    This report will unfold with ridiculous detail a four-day, long awaited (by us), poorly executed (by all accounts) and enormously rewarding ride that took place from the 1st to the 4th of July 2011.

    So, without further a ado, get ready for....

    Bike Porn
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    Spectacular Nature
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    Ancient Sites
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    Venetian Castles
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    Picturesque Villages
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    Beautiful Beaches
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    Puker moments
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    Starry Nights
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    Happiness
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    I'll try to finish this as quickly as I can, but, as those 4 days have put my work a bit (too much) behind, I'd suggest you subscribe to get the updates fresh out of the oven...
    #1
  2. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    My good king! My good king! The oracle has spoken!
    #2
  3. GZPainter

    GZPainter A Scouser from Crete

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    Waiting for the rest ..tserts... don't make us wait.... :freaky

    Ride safe mate...και παντα ορθιος....
    #3
  4. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    Screw that guy, he's always stoned...

    Thanks man, το καλό πράμα αργεί, αλλά βιαζόμαστε! :clap
    #4
  5. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    After a canceled European tour in 2009 due to some unforeseen family matters, I became a new dad in November the same year. This has brought infinite joy in my life and has changed everything in it, but, as a consequence, my riding time had been reduced to day trips mostly (everyday commuting doesn't count as riding time in my book), just to get some steam off..

    In this one and a half year, my "fleet" had seen some drastic changes, meaning that I sold all 3 previous bikes and had gotten a newer (I also had a '96 model, needed some repairs so I upgraded), great looking, africa twin as it made no sense maintaining all that just for commuting.I saw my "Ornela" (caponord '03) and my "Granny" (transalp '92) ride away with a new owner and had settled for the "Kleopatra" (Greek Africa Queen), which could serve as a city bike but also embark on longer trips, with some limitations on the highway. The bike had long been prepped for multi-day touring but I had yet to get her on the road for good and everyday while lane-splitting in dense traffic I would whisper to her instruments "soon my dear, soon we'll be on better roads"...

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    The rest of my riding gang was going through the same dry spell ride-wise, with work obligations and family burdens making a "full force" outing really difficult. The only ray of sunlight in that respect (because in every other aspect he is a PIA), was my friend Yani, Ghallas from now on to avoid confusion (we're both Yani). He had actually managed to get the whole July as a Sabbatical, he is not married, leads a teenager's life, even though his actual age is closer to mid-life, he refuses to accept it... He is always the most available and I have, on several occasions, left him stood up in ride trips, as various things tend to pop up in my life when a trip approaches. He hasn't held a grudge and surprisingly even committed to this trip even though he said that it would lead to same outcome, me calling it off at the last minute.

    Well, that didn't happen so Friday morning on the 1st of July, I had a packed, ready to roll Kleopatra in my garage entrance.

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    Besides all the gizmo, I had arranged for inter-bike communication for us, which worked out pretty well until the last day, when battery issues led to various failures...

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    Off we go!!

    I hit some morning traffic at first...
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    But made it to the highway
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    Much better
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    Everything works fine, a good start!
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    About an hour later I reach the meeting point, the first gas station past the toll booths, Athens is already behind us, time to start having fun!
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    #5
  6. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    The agreed strategy on this trip was simple: Take it easy, enjoy the ride, stop wherever we feel like stopping, no fixed routes, some must way-points, avoid the main roads, free camp if possible. Being just two meant that we were extra flexible and decisions were made swiftly, even by radio, without stopping. The previous night I input a specific route with two options for the end part, Ghallas decided that reaching Kaiafas would offer some safe free camping options, as he had used the spot in the past when studying in Patras. This is the route of the day, 383km along the slopes of the Peloponnesian mountains.

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    #6
  7. pnoman

    pnoman Just Average

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    Can't wait to see the rest. Nice photos & I like your writing style. This report looks to be a great one.
    #7
  8. ghallas

    ghallas n00b

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    I hope the morgue gets better pictures of me than you do :dhorse
    #8
  9. thleon

    thleon Theo

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    Yani, I start feeling lucky the fact I didn't make it to participate in that trip :rofl
    #9
  10. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    Thank you for your kind words, I'm sure I'll let you down as well down the line, but it's nice to know that those who haven't met me in person think that I'm capable of greatness... :rofl

    FYYSF (Fuck You You Sabbatical Fuck). Go bake your tits at a beach noob, and when you get back at work you can resume feeling embarrassed by this RR...

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    Your English is barely adequate to pick up tourists at Plaka (kamaki level), have fun polishing that F800GS at your garage, make sure your drool doesn't run on your keyboard reading this, and know that you weren't missed at all... :lol3
    #10
  11. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    Anyway, as soon as we got on to the highway I pulled up my camera (I always have it around my neck and shoot while riding) and saw the batteries flying towards the rear, somehow the lid had unlocked and out they went. I didn't have any more AAs on me so for the next hours it was just Ghallas' camera in operation...

    We got off the highway the soonest possible (just after Corinth, 80km from Athens) and headed for Nemea from a secondary uphill road, it was looking good already...

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    We headed for Lake Stymfalia and soon we had left all the ugliness of Athens behind and were sucking in the marvelous landscapes.

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    #11
  12. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    A bit further south we stopped for a bite (beer, sausage and fries). We were already looking a bit funny, having a good time has that effect...

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    Back onto the bikes and off to Ancient Feneos and the nearby lake... This is too good...

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    This one's already leaning by the twisties...
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    #12
  13. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    A ways further we got to another high point overlooking a valley. OK, we need to make another stop, new desktop in sight! :clap

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    #13
  14. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    All this time we haven't managed to find batteries, but at one village I spot the local "super market", I get the batteries and I'm finally back in the game!! :clap

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    The batteries must have been at the shelf for years, there is probably nothing in the village that runs on AAs, after 10 photos the camera shuts off after seconds, but at least with enough on/off they get the job done... It sure is interesting to ride scenic twisties with one hand and having to push the "on" button, then make sure the lens comes out, point and shoot... :deal
    #14
  15. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    We stop briefly at an internationally funny sounding village to gas up and drink some fluids..

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    A fantastic twisty stretch leads us to Aroania,

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    ...and then to Lampeia where we grab a coffee.. The policeman at the next table turns out he's a biker as well and after passing some tips on the route ahead leaves and stealthily pays for our coffees, we never even got to thank him... The view for the kafeneio is nice...


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    #15
  16. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    From Lampeia we took a small road south above the mountains and then headed towards Ancient Olympia but did not see the sites as it was getting late (ish)...

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    Alfeios Dam
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    On the way to Krestena
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    #16
  17. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    We reached Kaiafas, the chosen destination for our camp, and Ghallas tried some friends on the phone to learn where the "new" spot was (the previous had burned at the 2007 fires. He took a right towards the shore which came to a dead end a couple of meters ahead. The track then went steeply uphill towards the rail tracks, which he said we were supposed to cross. It seemed impossible as there was very soft sand on the ground...

    I volunteered to go ahead and see if it was feasible, trying to be the "brave" among us. Less than 4 meters into the try my front wheel buried in the sand and I fell with zero speed to my left. OK, don't panic, just pick the bike up. The way I had set up my luggage I had no reach at the rear left handle so only the bars were available, I have done that before on the previous africa twin and it had been relatively easy for me but this time the bike was resting a bit downhill so embarrassingly I asked Ghallas to come to the rescue (initially I had told not to bother get off his bike)... He was having other problems as the sand was too soft to hold the side stand and he was looking for something to wedge underneath it, with little success.

    Meanwhile Kleopatra was spilling petrol from the cap breathers (both the transalp and the africa have that bug, and it's very dangerous if you ask me) and I was getting a bit worried... I tried once again from the bars and managed only to make them off-centre (another bug, if you put too much force the bars shift to the sides). Finally Ghallas came and we put her straight, carefully we turned the bikes and got back on the main road. The bars were now pointing to the right to go straight .. :deal With all the excitement I got no photos of the whole ordeal.

    He called his friend back and asked for more directions, turns out we were supposed to turn right further down the road, We found it and a while later we reached the camp spot and setup the tent.

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    Ghallas looked at the sky and wisely chose the spot that would keep the sun away from our tent in the morning.(make note of that)

    We pitched the tent and went by bike a few km back the same road to a small restaurant where we ate dinner and had some beers (I also straightened the bars). We rode back to the tent.

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    We decided to have a night swim as the weather was warm and we had been sweating all day on the bikes. The beach was some 200m away, after the trees ended there were some small dunes before reaching the shore. As we were exiting the trees, Ghallas noticed that we could have problems coming back at the right spot and put two 1 meter sticks standing on the sand, they were barely visible 5m away.. I thought I'd play it smart by marking our spot on the trees' skyline. Entering the dunes we both felt that we would find our way back easily.

    We had a great cooling swim by the stars (a bit wavy I should say, Kaiafas is a famous windsurf beach) and started to walk back towards the camp. Distracted by our conversation we realised that we were a bit off course since we went through a small area filled with garbage that we hadn't when going. We entered the trees by a different spot but we thought the tent would be near-by. It wasn't. We started to walk left and right at where we estimated would be the right spot but nothing looked familiar. I was not totally panicked since I believed that if we went all the way to the main road and then walked back the way we had come we would find the bikes but it would take a lot of time.

    In a rare (for him) flash of intelligence, Ghallas mentioned that I had my bike keys with me, which happen to have my alarm remote, which could set off the alarm to guide us. I looked at the screen and saw I had two bars (out of three) meaning first that we were close, second that I could communicate with the bike. I pressed the panic button and from far away behind us we heard the siren. We had been completely lost and had been looking at a totally wrong place. I had to set it on once again to make sure we were going the right way, and again we had missed by some degrees. There were houses not far away so we didn't want use the siren again so we turned off our forehead lights and I turned on the indicators. We had passed 10 meters from the bikes and were already going the other way! I kept turning the lights on and finally we got to the tent. I believe that had we not had the remote we would still be there looking for the camp, it is amazing how helplessly lost one can get under these conditions.

    We relaxed a bit at the total calmness of our surroundings and got in the tent to get some sleep.
    #17
  18. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    I forgot about these, they give a better feel of the situation:

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    Day 2 coming up! :wink:
    #18
  19. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    It's hot...

    I'm sweating..

    It's also very bright, where am I? Oh, right I'm camping! But why is it so hot? I try to get back to sleep (it's 9am, we got to sleep at 3am) at about 9.30 I decide that it's not going to happen, I leave Ghallas who seems to be sleeping peacefully with drops of sweat on his forehead and I get out.

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    Yes, it must the worst tent spot location decision in history. It was the only sunny spot in the area. Good job... I head to the beach for a morning swim, it is great, and then I start to study the maps for the day's route. Ghallas wakes up, admits that his choice of spot was a bit stupid, heads for the beach and then we start to pack.

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    We take our time doing all this and it is 12.30 when we hit the road, not exactly an early start... Spirits are high, the weather is great and it feels good to be there! :clap
    #19
  20. tserts

    tserts Chaotic Neutral

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    Day 2 - The route was about 230km, with some off-road. Mostly small scenic routes, with about 30 km double driving as we took a wrong turn (it was worth it)


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    #20