101 km | 2.295 vertical meters | Hors Categorie
Aristea pushes me vigorously in her living room. The breakfast table is set for the guests. The ancestors look down seriously from the photos on the wall, while politicians fight on TV. The coffee comes in the Briki on the stove and on the table is a hissing gas burner, to cook my breakfast egg simultaneously. I hope that the house will not burn down.
From Anogia to Lendas: After the days in the magnificent mountain scenery around Anogia, the tour leads down from the pastures of Nida, through the wine region east of Psiloritis, through the Messara and across the Asterousia mountains to the south coast at Lendas. A short climb to the pass, then I was rushing down quickly in the direction of Iraklion, through the picturesque villages Avdou and Gonies; white colored spots dotted into the landscape.
Four kilometers behind Gonies, is on the right side of the road on a slope, the Late Minoan mansion of Sclavokambos. Magazines and utility rooms are arranged around a large courtyard. There are finds of clay sealings and household activities.
The road continues through the Gonies gorge at dizzying heights towards Tilisos. Here three Late Minoan villas are located above the center, overlooking the rolling countryside east of Psiloritis, with olives and wine.
In the village, it is not so easy to find the right way heading south. At the EATA postoffice turn right, then slightly uphill and agian half right at the first junction. Then go straight on until you reach the main square with the church and the fountion on the right. Here turn left and and at the next option to the right, then downhill again. From the village exit follow the road until you reach the small bridge over the brook in the valley. Crossing the creek and following the S-curve you reach Keramoutsi after about 150 meters.
Via Keramoutsi I continued to Krousonas, and here things got complicated.
A growling and slobbering monster: After the Krousonas Platia and the church, I turned right and in southern direction towards Kato Asites. One kilometer further, I was shocked by a large dog. From a doorway, it rushed towards me at high speed and was fortunately pulled back abruptly from a long chain. At this growling, slobbering and perhaps biting monster, there was no way to pass. It was pure adrenaline that flooded my body.
The third time is the charm: Now I turned to Plan B. Just the other way round, I turned in eastern direction for the road via Kitarida, Agia Mironas and Pirgou. But after a while I was wondering, because I went constantly to the north, Iraklion nearby in sight, and I felt, that with every pedal stroke the distance to my destination was always getting greater. And when I saw Iraklion and the sea quite close beneath me at a junction, I was sure that I had lost my way. I had no idea, that at this point, the road to Agia Mironas makes a wide arc to the north. Without getting any closer to my destination, I had been forced back two times, but the third time is the charm.
Sarchos: After a short rest, my nerves calmed down. Heroic I broke the front at Sarchos and got lucky to Kato Asites. It’s a beautiful track on unpaved road through a small valley and up to the village. Once you’ve managed to follow the winding streets through the center of Sarchos to the south, turn left at the y- junction 500 meters after the village exit. Here you have to ford a shallow brook. It’s a perfect place to rest in the shade under rustling plane and oak trees with spots of bugleweed, horsetail and oleander.
From Agia Varvara to the Messara plain: You will admire the fantastic mountain scenery, as the road winds over the pass at Agia Varvara and down to Gergeri. From here you’ll have a wide view over the Messara plain, to the Messara bay to the west and the Lassithi Mountains to the east. And far to the south lies the elongated mountain range of the Asterousia Mountains, a big obstacle in front of the Libyan Sea, which must be overcome if you want to reach Lendas and the south coast.
A fast downhill to the Messara near Gortyn, with the Doric ruins from 500 BC. And you’ll pass through corn fields via Mitropolis, along olive groves and vineyards, crossing the Mitropolianos and Jeropotamos River, pass through Platanos and ride until you reach Plora and Apesokari, situated at the northern foot of the Asterousia mounts.
Asterousia mounts: First the road winds up the mountain slopes in steep and narrow bends, while the Messara lies deep down in the shimmering heat. Later, after approximate five kilometers, the slope decreases.
When you reach the village Miamou at 480m, there is only a last mountain ridge to conquer. Then there are ten kilometers of the most beautiful roads in Europe ahead of you.
Descent to Lendas: Enjoy the acceleration on the straight, hit the brakes before the curve, look ahead to the inner curve and dive down on the serpentine road. Remember, though, that there is oncoming traffic. While you race the last switchbacks you see the white polka dots at the edge of the deep blue ocean; the houses of Lendas. Go for the adventure!