Balkan Stage 28 Metsovo to Kastraki, Greece

Oct 7, 2022

Stage 28 of 36, day 33 of 43: 68.5 km, 881m climb, 2:39 Moving, 2:49 Total,  64.9 kph max

CountryDistanceClimbing
Slovenia352.25149
Italy29.3346
Croatia950.911,430
Bosnia & Herzegovina211.01444
Montenegro29.3185
Albania688.29749
Greece229.34620
Total2490.532,923

After a lousy night of sleep, and a somewhat small hotel breakfast, I was wondering if today’s ride would be any good. It started straight from town with a climb of over 600m in 14 km. Since there was no downhill I tried wearing just a short-sleeved jersey and it worked. I generated enough heat to stay warm almost to the top of the hill. There were some cold, strong headwinds, but it was balanced by gorgeous views with almost no traffic.

Photo stop: looking back to Metsovo from 400m up

I got to the top in an hour, ate a banana and added a long sleeved jersey. We were on top of Katara Pass at over 1700m. It’s one of the highest passes in Greece. As a bonus, we had a clear view of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece at 2917m. Everyone added clothes, remembering how cold we were on the descent yesterday. I used full-fingered gloves all day.

Top of Katara Pass
There’s Mt. Olympus on the right in back, and the road we will ride

I strategically started with Bob J, the master descender, and told him, “Go ahead you’re faster”. We started well after many people and I drafted him for 20 km, passing every single rider ahead. It was magical. His skill and experience was a dream to watch. Later, one of the riders told me watching us pass by was the most beautiful thing she saw. The first 1000m of the descent was continuous, barely dipping below 50 kph with little braking. My bike is not geared as high as his so sometimes I had to aggressively tuck right behind him to keep up. He kept pedaling on all the straights for maximum speed. I can only really pedal to 50 kph.

We had a bit of uphill after that and were joined by Bob M and Geoff and Simo. Then there was another 500m descent at warp speed, again sucking Bob J’s wheel the whole time. We kept up the pace line until arrival in Kastraki, with the famous rocks of Meteora becoming more and more visible.

Riding into Kastraki, we can see some of the famous monasteries on top of the rocks

We cruised into the campground surprising the truck crew who had just arrived themselves. We helped set up camp, unload the truck etc. Ype arrived, then Henk and there was a grand lunch with everyone happy from the amazing ride.

Tom, Per, Graham, Peter and I downed a few beers at the campground bar, then I wrote this up. Peter and I are on dinner duty tonight – I think it’s my last time. We looked at the schedule and after the rest day tomorrow, there are only two more 4-day blocks of riding, and a rest day in Olympia before we arrive at our final destination, Athens.

Starting the celebratory drinking session

We are really looking forward to exploring the monasteries tomorrow. Here’s a photo I found online.

Roussanou Monastery at sunset

Cool bonus fact: the 1981 Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed here.

2 thoughts on “Balkan Stage 28 Metsovo to Kastraki, Greece

  1. Welcome to EΛΛAΣ and enjoy your final bike-trip country, I remember the Meteora monasteries, set amidst those amazing rock formations, well, from 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

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