THE PLAN COMES TOGETHER
So, I had survived my first epic bike ride on Corfu. I now realised my Olympic gold was now looking quite likely! The day after our first ride, I actually felt okay. We had arranged for the lovely Stamatis to deliver the bikes to our apartment on 7th October, in the evening. My birthday is the 8th, so we were planning an epic ride and had hired the bikes for a couple of days.
For the few days in between, we jumped in the shite hire car and explored the beautiful Island. I didn’t tell Andy my logic behind this – I was really trying to pick out flat routes! In a car, you really don’t realise how hilly and rubbish the roads are! We found many very good cake stops on these little trips!
Stamatis from S-Bikes arrived with the bikes, as promised, I had washed the pink lycra ready for my grand tour. We had planned a route (remember I have no sense of direction, I can’t read a map and I also can’t read Greek!). We were starting out from Paleokatritsa, going inland (the flat “ish” bit I remembered) to Lakones and then on to Liapades, and Kokkini, Pelakas to Agios Gordios, then Agios Mattheos and cut across to Messonghi, then up to Moraitika, and Benitses, and on again to Corfu town. From Corfu town on to Kontokali, across to Gouvia, Gardelades, back through Lakones and on home to Paleokastritsa……
Sounded alright to me – after all, we had all day! We (well Andy) estimated it to be just under 60 miles. I had survived under 30, including a massive, stupid climb, so I was pretty sure this would be fine! I was quite determined I wouldn’t fall off again. Though I was concerned there were no brakes on the top of my handlebars and no ‘granny ring’ on this hire bike! I had visions of coffee, cake and a gentle ride. How wrong was I! I got my pink lycra on, my pink trainers and of course my aviators! No need for any sort of warm up in that fab weather. Again, I thought I looked like the goddess. I set my Strava and off we went.
CAKE FUELS THE RIDE
The first 10 miles was ok. We stopped once for cake (well it was my birthday!) We climbed 1,076 feet and that was plenty enough of this uphill rubbish for me! I probably should have insisted on turning back at this point but, knowing Andy had worked out this route and was really keen I thought it would be unfair to bail out on him.
You see so much more on a bike, you smell so much more. I was firmly in love with Corfu! The drivers were fantastic – giving way, waiting patiently behind us, giving us plenty of room. Both Andy and I commented how much more considerate they are in Greece than back home in Devon. We had lunch in the most amazing Taverna, drinking orange juice from their own trees. It was the best, most refreshing thing I had ever tasted. We bumped into a group of cyclists, they were on mountain bikes – probably a bit more suited to the Corfu roads! I was getting a little warm now (to say the least) even the mozzies were leaving me alone. I must have smelled really bad!
We continued our journey, this time at a bit of a snail’s pace. By the time, we hit the coast road and Messonghi, I had really had enough! But, had no option except to carry on! We took in the fantastic scenery and lots more cake. We were averaging about 10 miles per hour and we were stopping at almost every taverna we saw to refuel with baclava. We stopped in Benitses and I realised my strava had stopped after 10 miles and had then started to record a new ride. I was not happy! This was not a birthday I would ever be repeating – torturing myself! My bum was on fire (men’s saddles are just that – men’s saddles, not shaped for female butts!) My shoulder was agony, my legs felt like jelly. I stank so badly that I was actually making myself gag.
Corfu town was the next stop – the traffic was horrendous, but still the drivers gave way, treated us with respect. Not far now Andy told me. And on we went. Slowly! Andy encouraging me, all I really wanted to do was jump in a taxi! How on earth was I made to believe I could do this. I hated cycling! Made me smell bad, messed my hair up and made my carefully applied makeup run! By the time, we got to Gouvia, I announced I was going to die! Andy insisted it was only a couple more miles. I asked, ‘ How many?’ He replied ‘About 3’ (he lied!).
BARELY ALIVE BUT DETERMINED!
All my made up swear words were exhausted by now and really didn’t have the energy to make up more, so I mumbled them over and over and over again. I was sure I would never get on another f***ing bike in my life! As soon as we returned to the UK, if I ever saw the lycra clad goddess again, she was getting ‘the bird’! At this point it occurred to me that said lycra clad goddess was probably about 20 years younger than me. What was I ever thinking! Those 3 miles, (actually about 10 miles) was the most painful hour of my life, including giving birth!
Andy said at one point ‘ we did more climbing the other day’. Now, I’m not violent person, but I actually wanted to kill him at that point! ‘You’re doing well’ he kept saying. F***off was all I could manage, I didn’t even have the energy to say it! I was angry, angry at myself. Angry for ever thinking that I, 40 something, ex-smoker, unfit with poor eyesight and a bad shoulder would ever be the lycra-clad goddess. Angry for ever mentioning the words ‘I want a racing bike’. Most of all, I was angry for not just sitting my arse down by the pool like any normal holiday maker would! Never again was I getting on a flipping bike!
Anyway, somehow, we made it back. Andy got an energy spurt for the last mile or so. I told him to go on, thinking, I just want to die alone! I was wet with sweat, the killer mozzies were still avoiding me! My backside was numb, my shoulder burning, every muscle in my body aching like never before. We didn’t even manage to go to dinner that night, we had a kebab from the local kebab house. Strangely, I actually think I gained weight that day – with all the cake we ate.
We had climbed 4,614 feet, and had cycled 56 miles in total. Did I feel like I had achieved something? No, I didn’t, (well, not at the time) – I felt the pain of riding on a bike designed for a bloke! The following day, Andy, feeling enthusiastic, asked where I fancied cycling that day. It ended with off! He cycled alone, whilst I soaked up the sun, lying on my sore bum by the pool!