Day 5 Nafpaktos - Astakos
Today is the 5th day of our cycling tour “Ride with the Gods” in Greece, and our 4th day on the bike. Many of us were concerned about the heat on this 100+ km day and rolled out at 8:00 a.m. The temps were in the 60s making the early distance quite pleasant. We rolled along along the Gulf of Patras past the suspension bridge that goes from outside Nafpaktos to the Peloponnese. At 16 km (10 miles) we began our first of the initial 2 ascents, climbing up about 400 meters as we moved inland from the coast. A large peloton of recreational riders passed many of us and were quite friendly! We then had relatively flat riding, transitioning back to the coast ar Messolongi, where most of us took a detour out a causeway into the bay to visit the salt museum with a guided tour. We stopped at about 55 km (34 miles)
The Salt Museum occupys a building that once housed workers for the site. They use precipitation ponds to extract the salt. Salt extraction dates back to the 14th century in Messalongi. After the liberation of Greece from the Ottomans the salt works were transferred back to the state. In 1982 they were given to the city of Messalongi by the national government. The salt works employed hundreds of workers in the 1930s but today the workforce is just a few 10s of people as mechanization has improved the efficiency. The salt is very high quality. Additionally the red algae and brine shrimp that thrive in this saline environment serve as food for the flamingos that can be found nearby. We did get to see them after we left the museum. Though the ones near the museum were more white a few of the others we saw were starting to turn more pink.
We were treated to a delicious lunch of pasta with a pepper pesto prepared by our resident chef and tour organizer Steven Frost. It was absolutely delicious!! And it was the perfect lunch at the mid-point of our ride
We left the museum a bit before noon and continued rolling through mainly flat terrain, through a few small villages, and farmland. We finally approached our final climb of the day 95 km (59 miles) into the ride. The climb was about 6 km (nearly 4 miles) and while not steep (4-6%) it was quite warm, though we were lucky enough to have some cloud cover! When we rolled over the top we were treated to a wonderful view of Astakos, our home for the night along the water. I also have a great views from the room balcony. We ended the day with 107 km (67 miles) and 630 m (nearly 2100’) of climbing.
Tonight we enjoyed stuffed vegetables and wonderful mezze for dinner. Now to rest up for our rolling hills ride tomorrow consisting of another 78 km (48 miles) and nearly 1000 m (nearly 3200’) of climbing to the Island of Lefkas where we will enjoy a day off the bike! Tomorrow’s weather forecast does not look promising. 🤞 the rain holds off until we are off the bike!