Introducing the YOLOTON: a memoir of a Pink Flamingos Adventure Cycling Club camping trip

Summer finally arrived and the Pink Flamingos Adventure Cycling Club, the rag tag gang of pedalheads gravitating around 48×17 cycles, Athens’ coolest LBS, was itching for a new adventure. Someone proposed to combine the annual campout with the World Bike Camping Day, and the date was set for June 23rd.

Destination, Potami in southern Evoia, a majestic beach where a small river meets the sea, a beautiful combination of desert-like landscapes and green forests.

It was time to go.

   We settled on a coastal route avoiding the main motorway, that also included some 25km of gravel, a first for PFACC and quite a bit more demanding than our past outings. Nevertheless, we felt that riding by the sea and avoiding cars was worth the extra effort, not to mention that some of us, bored with the asphalt hellscape of Athens, wanted to try this newfangled trend for dirt.

This trip was plagued by unfortunate events. Panos, our resident videographer could not join and then Agis the ringleader and soul of the party had to bail out too. The weather forecast predicted rain, the fourth weekend of June ruined by freak bad weather. The mood was dampened and we seriously considered cancelling the thing. However, the most adventurous spirits were determined to ride despite all the bad signs, the desire to escape Athens prevailed and we decided to go on with the plan even if we were just a few.

Our meeting point was the small port of Rafina. The turnout was unexpectedly good considering the weather. Other than the usual suspects, we also had four new entries that joined us for the first time, making this one of the most popular trips, against all predictions. After the introductions and after patching up two flat tires, we took the ferry to Marmari, leaving back cloudy Athens.

In Marmari bad luck struck again, another flat tire was too much for Alexandros that had to abandon before even starting. The rest of us headed for our first stop, the small port of Karystos. After an uneventful and flat 12 km, we reached Karystos and after a brief stop at a super market for supplies, we rode off again, towards Bouros taking the scenic coastal road.

The view lifted our spirits and we had to struggle to not stop for a swim. However, with the Greek sun now in full force, we had to continue.

At Bouros we had to make a major decision. Either continue with the paved road or continue with the original plan, take the dirt road to Potami. We had conflicting information about the quality of the gravel road, some locals warned us that it was more of a path than a road and shook their heads when they heard our plan. However, the Pink Flamingos Adventure Club is not known for its great decision skills, so we decided to follow the path of most resistance.

Predictably enough, the road was indeed a dirt path washed from the rain exposing the famous Karystos slabs underneath. Nevertheless the coastal view was fantastic and we started snailing our way to Potami. After a few kilometers the heat and the relentless uphill dirt path started to weigh down on the YOLOton. But just as we started questioning our decisions and thinking about Bear Grills solutions to our rapid dehydration, we encountered an oasis in the middle of the desert, a small cottage literally in the middle of nowhere. The gentleman that lived there let us chill in his garden, a very much needed rest.

After filling up our water supplies we continued for the last few kilometers to the beach. An hour of grueling climbs and sketchy downhills later we arrived at the beach. Everyone abandoned the bikes and went for a swim. It was a glorious moment that made it all worth it.

Refreshed and with our good vibes restored we set up camp near the river and went to grab something to eat at a local taverna. While we were having our well deserved beers, out of the blue appeared Alexandros, that somehow managed to fix his bike and braved it to the destination on his own, earning an enthusiastic standing ovation for his effort.

The sun went down and we gathered our camping spot, beers were had, stories were told and one by one we went all to sleep.

 The next morning we had a coffee and after a really short deliberation it was decided to take the paved road back. We packed our stuff and after a few kilometers of really brutal climb we were on our way to Karystos. We stopped at a beach for a quick swim and a sandwich and to wait for Alexandros that somehow managed to get lost again.

After that it was a swift ride to Marmari, where we took the ferry back to Rafina. Another Pink Flamingos adventure was over, probably the hardest to date, but as always we are already making half-assed plans for the next. Until then we keep riding in Athens, which as everyone knows suck for cycling.

Words by Dionysis Souliotis.
Photography by Konstantinos Koroneos.

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