Tour 17 - Athos - MTB

The start point for this tour is at OURANOUPOLI, the border town of the monastic republic of Athos. The route begins very comfortably on asphalt, followed by a coastal track leading to the Athos boundary. The very steep ascents thereafter call for fitness and riding technique. The numerous fantastic views from the top more than compensate for all the effort.

The sand and gravel mountain road follows the west coast over the ridges of north Athos. The route leads uphill and downhill, past vineyards belonging to small settlements through very primitive landscape. You may be in for a treat: depending on the position of the sun, the pyrite rich stone transforms the trail into a glittering sea of crystals.

A sensational descent leads back down to the east coast. But beware – the first downhill stretch past a large goat pen is teeming with large, edgy billygoats. Once on the coast you will meet a wide, solidly constructed gravel road. This leads straight along the east coast back to NEA RODA

Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The only supermarkets are in OURANOUPOLI and NEA RODA

Start point: The Byzantine tower that is the hallmark of OURANOUPOLI.

Getting there: Drive along the coast road from NEA RODA to the small town of OURANOUPOLI, border town for the monastic republic of Athos. OURANOUPOLI lies on the west coast of the Athos Peninsula.

0.0 km Head off from the tower along the shore, continuing down the main street towards the Athos boundary. A short while later you will come to a large car park for tour buses, at which point the asphalt road becomes a gravel track. Shortly after this you will arrive at some excavations and the actual boundary with Mount Athos. A small gate symbolically blocks off access to the monastic republic. Turn LEFT just in front of a small info kiosk and follow a narrow path running along by a riverbed around the excavations.

2.7 km Take the first road leading STEEPLY UPHILL TO THE LEFT. Once up at the top, turn RIGHT onto a track at a fork in the road at

3.3 km This starts gently, but then leads steeply uphill towards the woods above. When you reach the crest of the hill you will have to cross a small vineyard. Note: please close the gate properly behind you.

5.1 km When you come to an intersecting road, turn LEFT and ride straight on past a fenced-in plot of land.

5.3 km Turn RIGHT onto the next wider intersecting road, which is a sand and gravel trail, and head on gently downhill.

5.6 km Bear LEFT at the next turnoff. This rather narrower sand trail leads past a small church to a ridge road.

6.7 km You are now at the ridge road, which comes from the left and crosses over the trail you are on. Turn RIGHT onto it and ride on parallel to the sea. This new trail includes several steeper ascents and descents, but compensates you with fantastic views over the northern part of the Athos Peninsula up to the island of Amouliani.

9.0 km Turn RIGHT at the next intersecting road and head on downhill. Immediately after this, bear LEFT at the next turnoff. Care: this gravel descent is on very coarse scree. Head past a large goat pen and on along the narrow trail, which soon becomes a more negotiable sand track.

12.4 km Turn RIGHT at the next intersecting road, and at

12.9 km you will come to another wide intersecting road. Opposite the junction there is a white house with an extension and a water tank on the roof. Turn RIGHT onto this wide sand and gravel track and ride on to the next fork in the road. Turn LEFT at the fork and head past the campsite to the beach. The nice beach invites you to take a well-earned rest, especially if the campsite beach café is open. The remaining stretch involves riding back past the campsite. Head STRAIGHT ON at the next fork to return to the trail on which you came. This wide gravel trail leads up and downhill along the coast straight to Nea Roda. Take care on descents!! The trail is so wide that it will tempt you to race, but the gravel surface is extremely slippery in places.

14.6 km At this point you will come to a new asphalt road, which leads over the last hill to the entrance to Nea Roda. Turn LEFT at the start of the promenade and ride away from the beach up to the coast road. Turn LEFT and follow the coast road.

21.0 km You find yourself at the port at Tripiti. Follow the coast road straight to Ouranoupoli to return to the tour start point.

At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.