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06 December 2014

Athens Group Ride Culture

Come and ride along
Starting to a group ride

Since restarting my cycling life early last year, I've come to appreciate some of the aspects of the group ride culture here in Athens. What I take part in has changed a lot, but I think all of these things are worth a try and can be good fun, and a way to explore Athens on a bike. Athens is not very bike friendly, so a group ride can make these things safer and more enjoyable.

I started with a commuter bike, and at first I went to the "Freeday" massive group rides on Friday evening, starting from Thisio. The first few times there were between hundred and a few hundred cyclists there, because it was winter. As soon as the weather got warmer, numbers increased, and when it got to close to a thousand, that group ride got to unwieldy and slow for me. Being in such a large group means having to stop and wait a lot. Still it's a fun experience, being in that sea of cyclists, having all the road for you (and the other thousand of you).

Next I found a little neighborhood, "casual" group ride. We're not talking about "dudes in latex on racing bikes" here. These are small groups of normal cyclists, usually on commuting bikes (city bikes, some mountain bikes, some people even on racing bikes), who make tours typically in the range of 30-40km, in an easy speed and waiting for all the members of the group. Usually there is a stop at the "endpoint", but I guess most of them don't stop at a cafe, first for economic reasons, second probably because greek coffee culture takes more time. In winter the stop probably is reduced to 10 minutes of rest.

I don't ride very often with the local group, since my schedule does not always allow it, but there are some people who are always there. On http://www.podilates.gr there is a calendar and a map helping you to find a group (in greek). Still I like to join in from time to time, to have an easy ride with company. There are some people who have prepared a route, and there are people who check that everybody stays together and nobody gets lost on a traffic light.

After getting a "fast bike", I started looking at more "sportive" group rides. Here there is also a range of options, but I don't know of any website listing them all (some are appearing also on the podilates.gr site). There are some well known "chain gangs" starting in Kalamaki at the parking space of the "Ble" club (where Alimou and Poseidonos avenues meet), and these groups usually follow the coast road in direction to Sounion. Wednesday evenings, and Saturday/Sunday mornings are typical times.

I've been about 4 times out with some of those groups. Sometimes I like it for getting an easier way to get a lot of kilometers done (drafting in a big group makes a huge difference), but other times I prefer to be out there on my own instead of having to concentrate on the wheel in front of me. I guess each thing has their advantage. One day when I was out alone on the coast road and hit a headwind on the way back, I was passed by a cycling club from Nea Ionia and was invited to sit in at the end... free shelter from the wind, getting me almost all the way home quickly!


Posted by betabug at 15:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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