This year the annual bike camp out of 48×17 was decided wholeheartedly to venture into the unknown and specifically to Andros island. Notoriously famous for its “meltemia” ridiculously strong summer winds that slams the place 24/7, home to Ted Bafaloukos (acclaimed cinematographer including “Rockers” roots reggae movie), Sariza water spring, lush hill sides and rocky mountain tops.
Our destination target? Apoikia village where the Blue Enigma hotel/bowl is located, run by BMX veteran shredder Nikos Garyfallos, has caused quite a sensation in the minds of the Pink Flamingos Adventure Cycling Club. The fact that it was located in the mountain top with lots of climbing… we couldn’t resist – had to go visit.
So the usual bunch of beer-fuelled suntan-seeking cyclists gather at Rafina port early on Saturday morning and after a 2 hour boat float we landed in Gavrio, the port of Andros.
The scheduled ride started from Gavrio and then moved towards Mpatsi following the coast up to Aprovato, Palaiopoli and then turning inland to Pitrofos and Messaria before reaching capital village Andros. The ride on the coast is superb, passing the beach bars and local summer spots as sun bathers lounged about and fredos were being blended.
We stopped, stared and make photos as beautiful vistas were unfolding in classic Aegean blue/white panoramas and we were pounding the pedals, criss-crossing into bays in perfect cycling flow especially for those of us on track bikes. Andros was delivering the goods.
We reached Chora town just in time to catch some lunch and buy supplies for our night BBQ and some fruits and cookies for breakfast as holiday makers bathed on the rocks around town.
Andros-Chora is a nice town, weirdly shaped around a rock like a pointing boat obviously aiming to have the town castled out against pirates back in the day, with two sandy beaches on either side of the point. It is the home of strong Greek sea faring families that go way back in generations and some of them have given back to the island, most notably the Goulandris Foundation with its dynamic art space building that is located in the central square.
Leaving Chora the hard part was coming up as we started climbing up towards Apoikia. Its a steep hill and here first nagging was heard coming from the track riders between us but nevertheless we managed to reach Apoikia and its famous Sariza spring that produces the bottle water that we all know.
Apoikia village… we loved it! There is a really sincere chilled vibe, lush gardens around, nice vintage country houses all taken care of, freshly painted, cleaned and pimped up.
And then right there in the middle of the village is Blue Enigma hotel, or maybe better a BMXer’s refuge retreat. Nikos, owner and our host, an engineer in profession has meticulously turned his parents hotel in this paradisal spot using his knowledge as an engineer and builder. The bowl at the hotel is super hard, steep and fast but it is always appreciated by the skilled international riders that frequently have visited the place.
There are a few rooms upstairs, a pool table, balcony with view over the Aegean, sofas, hammocks and loungers and a slow travel atmosphere that the Pink Flamingos Adventure Cycling Club is eager to appreciate.
Apart from the hotel bowl Nikos has also constructed a full size ride park in a a piece of land his family owns at the northern part of the village, in between peanut and fig trees, chickens and goats. Its a 10 minute walk through a trail or a 20 minute ride through gravel.
And that was the spot where we were going to camp, BBQ and spent the night under the stars. Before that was going to happen and on our way there we decided after – alas more climbing – to dive in one of the many fresh water spring pools that are located around the island in abundance.
After that swim the day was gone and it was time to wrap up and prepare food, rest our legs and camp out at the park. Manos, Vagelis and some other friends of ours were out there riding the spot since Friday and we gathered in unison as we were unloading BMXs out of Nikos’ van and then turned on the lights, spark up the coal and cracked the first beers open.
It was the weekend alright.
After a good night sleep out in the soft night morning found us cooking coffee, eating bananas, melon and bread/jam as we packed our gear and cleaned the place. After stopping for goodbyes and high-fives at Nikos’ we bid farewell at the boys and girls at the hotel, and took of riding – and climbing some more steep hills – on a different route via Menites and the old cemetery before reaching out to the beaches on the other side of the island for a quick dive to the sea before catching the ferry.
So that was our killer trip this year, most arguably the best camp out we have done so far. These outings are becoming to take shape and we all realized how great Greek summer can be riding your bike with friends.
Many thanks to Nikos for helping out and being such great host. Big shout goea out to Manos, Vagelis, Leonidas and the rest of the BMX crew. Hopefully we meet up again in Blue Enigma at some point.
Pink Flamingos Adventure Cycling Club will come back next year with ideas for next dstination being already talked about between us. Maybe its time to come along!
All photos by Konstantinos Koroneos and Agi Kolyvas.
Till next time rubber side down.