Day 11 Ioanina - Metsovo
It is Day 11 of the Ride with the Gods tour in Greece (8th ride) and we are in the the Pindus mountain range. We started the day by riding around Lake Pamvotis. It was a chilly start and my glasses kept fogging up and I somehow missed the first turn and stayed along the lake edge rather than get on the main road (which was just off the lake). Unfortunately this brought me right into a pack of at least 10 dogs that proceeded to chase me and bark/growl. I kicked up my pace and dropped them (yelling the entire way). Unfortunately the road ended into a gravel section. Thank goodness I’m on my gravel bike with 42c tires! I ended the gravel section in someone’s yard facing a 1 meter high wall. I could see the road over the wall. Luckily they had a set of three metal steps which I carried my bike up and got onto the main road and the route. Not the best way to start my morning!
The climb began just a few kilometres later and was 11 km (6.8 miles) long, climbing up 440 m (1440’). We had spectacular views of the lake and Ioannina but sadly for me I just never got into a climbing rhythm on this first climb. It was painful but I did take a few photos and made it to the top! We then had a long descent that took us into a fog bank, necessitating pulling out my vest and arm warmers (most folks were putting on jackets). We continued on through the fog for the next 20 km (12 miles) and it was chilly! Finally at 40 km (and in the sunshine) we had a stop manned by our tour organizer and chef extraordinaire Steven, who had prepared pasta with fresh pesto (with basil from his garden) all done on the side of the road. It was delicious and really did help for the last climb. I did shed my vest and just a few kilometers into the climb had to stop and take off the arm warmers!
The road was lined with oak trees. The geology is impressive, quite rocky with impressively uplifted blocks. I only stopped a few times for photos, where the grade eased off, as this last climb was 14 km long (8.74 miles) and we picked up over 630 m in elevation (2070’). For the most part the grade was 4-7% however we did have 2 sections of 9+%! There were quite a few dogs on the road, though most ignored us. There were also hunters along the road with very big rifles. We are guessing they are hunting boar but we are truly not sure (they also have lynx and some other large cats here)! I did not stop to take a photo of the rifle as I thought this was not a good plan!
As we hit 1100 m in altitude (3700’) the trees changed to conifer, Austrian pine, Greek fir and Juniper. We completed the climb and turned off heading down cobblestone streets into Metsovo. We finished our ride with 58 km (35.8 miles) and 1393 m of climbing (4570’)
Metsovo is a quaint mountain town lined with stone houses with rock/slate roofs. In addition to the pines and juniper there are also elm and large old sycamore trees mixed here in Metsovo. The streets are packed with tourists (it is a Saturday). Apparently we are very near several ski resorts so I expect the town is quite a busy one in winter as well.
Tonight we will have a wine and cheese tasting with local production and then bean or goat soup for dinner. Tomorrow we continue our mountain journey into Grevena.