I’m in Greece. Four days and 400 kilometers after leaving Istanbul, Turkey, I arrived in Greece. To say I’m excited to start bicycle touring in Greece is an understatement. And first impressions did nothing but fuel the enthusiasm.
It was cold, freezing cold. I had obviously done a lousy job at packing the right clothes for bicycle touring Turkey. Thankfully, I decided to throw in a pair of gloves at the last minute.
I rode on thru the morning. Slowly the buildings peeled away, and the countryside began to creep in. Finally, I was on the coast. With the Sea of Marmara on my left and a patchwork of fields on my right, the cycling was beautiful. It was precisely what I had signed up for.
Once back in Playa Del Carmen, I decided to take the ferry to Cozumel and bicycle tour around the island.
I was off to an early start. Even though the ferry was crowded, it was mostly locals. When I arrived in Cozumel, it looked like a ghost town. I later found out; the typically popular tourist destination usually hosts thirty-nine cruise ships a week. Due to COVID, they haven’t had one visit in 5-months.
Shortly after arriving, I started my counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Cozumel, and the small town of tourist shops, bars, and restaurants quickly faded away.
The two-lane road to Chichen Itza was extremely overgrown. The jungle had completely taken over the shoulder. Every time I heard a car or truck approaching from behind, I had to pull off to the side of the road and let them pass.
The heat was also a major issue. Mid-day, I had to pull to the side and sit under a tree. Again, I was suffering from heat exhaustion.
I was eventually able to continue but decided to stop for the night in the colonial city of Valladolid.
I decided to take a break from my Morocco bicycle tour and run a marathon in the exotic city of Marrakech. To get to Marrakech from the coast, I had to cycle 190 miles from the small surf town of Taghazout, traversing the incredible Atlas Mountain range. Unfortunately, I drastically underestimated the amount of recovery time I would need after that ride.
When I reached the ridgeline, the wind was howling. In total, it took me over 14-hours of cycling to get there from the coast. I was in bad shape and completely underestimated how difficult the climb would be. Despite my condition, I had to push forward. I still had 90-miles to go, but luckily, it would be mostly downhill.
As I coasted down the mountain, the temperature steadily increased. After many hours, my body was finally warming up. The sky cleared; moreover, once again, I was enjoying my bicycle tour immensely.
The climb out of the small surf town was brutal. It took well over an hour and was easily the steepest of my life. Towing a trailer and surfboard didn’t help.
Words cannot describe the view at the top of the ridge. Seeing the peeling lines from that altitude is easily a top-five highlight of my bicycle touring career. A full-on, this is why I do this moment.
The next morning I left well before sunrise. With camping off the table, the plan was to ride 80 miles to the coastal town of Essaouira.
The day started on the wrong foot. In the dark, I somehow managed to make a wrong turn. I ended up cycling through an extremely rundown shantytown on the Southern edge of Safi. I stood out like a sore thumb. Admittedly, all the stares made me anxious. I was definitely off the beaten path.
I was cycling South along the Moroccan coastline as the sun began to rise and revealed the surf. There was a beautiful head high groundswell. The surf was epic! I hadn’t planned on surfing that first day, but the ocean was too tempting on that chilly January morning, so I began looking for a spot.
A prevalent aging misconception is that people lose their ability to recover quickly as they age. Whether it’s exercise, injury, hangovers, etc… you will often hear older people whine how they just can’t rebound like they did when they were younger.
There is a biological truth to a diminished ability to recover as you age, but I promise you it’s not nearly as severe as most people think.