What's on. - Club Runs
Twelve club members departed from Gatwick Airport on 5th October for a weeks holiday cycling around the North part of the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. The cycling was challenging and enjoyable with perfect weather, amazing views and great food.

See Photos on the Gallery | Route Day 1 | Route Day 2 | Route Day 3 | Route Day 4 | Pantokrator 1 | Pantokrator 2 | Pantokrator 3 |

A minibus collected everyone en-route to the airport, the flight was on time and we arrived in Corfu just before lunch.  A mixture of self-catering and hotel accommodation was booked at Arillas, a small beachside resort on the north-west coast of the island.  Mountain bikes had been hired from a bloke called Spiros and the first hour or two was spent with a spot of bike maintenance! Evening meals were arranged at a different taverna every evening where John Wilson discovered Retsina and we voted on the best moussaka.

The first days cycling took us through San Stephanos (actually Phil only got as far as the first hill and then retired to the beach) and then onwards and upwards to Sidari where we stopped to release the jammed back brake on Zoe’s bike (she thought it was a very tough hill?). Then we rode on to Roda and along the beach track to Akharavi for lunch.  On the way back we tried to avoid the nemesis that is the Magoulades hill, and instead diverted up Kavvadades hill. Nobody was convinced that it was an easy option and Graham was particularly aggrieved when Lynda thought that “it is all downhill from round the next bend” and although not strictly correct, he had to concede that it was slightly less uphill than usual!

On Wednesday, we had a break-away walking group, with Lynda leading Phil, Zoe, Wendy and Graham over the Arillas cliff top to San Stephanos for lunch.  The intrepid cycling group of Brian, Nick, Angie, Bob, John and Paul were led by Pete on a hilly route (no surprise there) to Makrades, Krini and the Byzantine castle at Angelokastro. Here they saw stunning views over Paleokastritsa, one of the finest scenic views in the Med. On the way, Brian fell off his bike (he was stationary at the time!!!) over the crash barrier at the top of a cliff but was rescued by some German tourists before photographic evidence could be obtained. The average speed of 9 mph was slower than the usual club run but it would prove to be good practice for the Pantokrator challenge later in the week.

No holiday would be complete without a tour of a brewery, and Arillas has it’s own micro-brewery with free samples to enjoy so we whiled away a morning before setting off on Thursday midday for a short ride through Velonades which involved a white-knuckle ride hurtling down hair-pin bends (well, some hurtled and others had smoking brake blocks at the bottom) but we all survived and stopped at a beachside taverna in Sidari for a late lunch and back via Peroulades, OK there was a bit of an uphill stretch where even Brian had to walk but there were fabulous views over the Ionian Sea to the off-shore islands to enjoy at the top.

Friday we all went across the island from west to east and had lunch and sightseeing in the beautiful fishing village of Kassiopi, then back via part of the Corfu trail along the coast.  We stopped for afternoon tea at the world-famous cake shop in Akharavi where Bob ate a massive filled croissant, it was like a yard-of-ale but with custard! and we were so impressed that we all vowed to come back another day.  Fuelled by cakes we successfully attempted Magoulades hill on the way back to Arillas.

We thought we might have an easy day on Saturday so we walked out of Arillas to the village of Afionas and a wonderful taverna perched high on the cliff top above St Georges beach for lunch.  Later we were joined by a thirsty Graham who had accidentally turned left and gone all the way down to the beach where he looked up to see the taverna 300 metres above!   On the way back we were a little nervous to realise that the buzzards were circling the cliff top path perhaps waiting for their own lunch?  The afternoon was spent on the beach except for an intrepid band of sailors who joined Cap’n Dixon for a boat ride to Paleokastritsa where we searched for the submarine depot, ate ice-creams and then swam in the crystal clear sea from an isolated beach.  We survived the trip to enjoy the evening with a special Greek dancing display and huge buffet laid on by Olga at the Elena-Stella apartments and then we retired as usual to the friendly bar at the hotel Akti where Spiros and Monika looked after us.

Sunday was the day of the dreaded Pantokrator challenge with Pete, Bob, Brian, Paul and Nick all attempting the ascent of the mountain from a start at sea-level (on the beach) to the peak 917 metres up. The climb took about 2 hours 20 minutes to get upto the summit, wreathed in clouds, and then just 40 minutes to get down to a well deserved pastry in the cake shop! The ascent starts from Akharavi so it’s a tough day to/from Arillas and can only be attempted early in the day with good weather conditions, well done all!

The “easy” option was from Arillas via the Troumpetta Pass where the voices of Zoe and Wendy could be clearly heard “we hate you George!!”. Onwards and upwards we toiled via a stop for cheese pies and tea and then to Makrades for pizza’s.  The owner of the taverna was so impressed by the number of cyclists that had visited him that week, he gave us all free baklava pastries soaked in honey.  The return was through olive groves and tiny villages via St Georges beach.  That evening we had a final dinner vote and went back to Brouklis taverna for a delicious last meal (his mum does the best moussaka in the village).

The perfect, sunny and still weather we had enjoyed all week was topped off by a very dramatic thunderstorm in the night which cleared by morning for the return flight home.

Next years trip is planned for Sunday 2 May 2010 so if you want to join us, please contact Lynda and Pete (01621 783565) who have further details and are taking bookings now.