Crete is quite touristic location, especially in its north coast in the districts of Iraklion, Rethymno and Chania, but it is not (yet) very popular for bikers, in particular if compared to Canary Islands or Baleares. Crete is truly beautiful, and has a lot to offer to bikers. During a short trip this summer I filmed a sequence of videos following a coherent route across the west side of the island. As the sequence reminds a short racing tour, it was natural naming it ‘Tour of Crete’, and of course each video represents a stage. There are 10 stages of various lengths, from 17km to 118km, for a total distance of 590km. They have mixed difficulty, and as in every race, the hardest stages come at the end. Each one presents a robust amount of climbs, of various length and gradient, for a total ascent of 12022m. Descents are also very interesting, and all have in common stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. The landscape is mostly dry, with some exceptions, and the direct sun light combined with awesome weather contributes to the high quality of the images. The footage has a total duration of 16h38’ and has been filmed in 4k, 30fps with a gopro Hero4, black edition. All videos are rendered with high (3840x1536) and middle (1920x768) resolution. The total size is 423.9 GB (high resolution) and 116.1 GB (medium resolution).
The last stage (number 10) can be freely downloaded at the link below, while if you are interested in some or all of the others, I will accept a donation. Please contact me at agstudiorlv[at]gmail.com for details.
The first stage starts a few km outside Iraklion, directly on a climb. After a mixed terrain in a wild landscape, a fast descent takes us to the coast village of Agia Pelagia. From here a short steep climb leads us to the road the E75. Following it for a few km we find two short climbs. Approaching the village of in Sises we turn left, leaving the main road for a longer ascent which crosses the local mountain range. The mountain pass signs the change from the rocky and dry landscape of the north side, to the more humid microclimate of the internal valley. The long steady downhill road towards west is fluent and relaxing. Besides a few minor undulation, only one short climb remains on the way before the final descent. The route ends approaching again the main costal road, not far from Rethymno.
The second stage starts from a hill outside Rethymno. The first 15km present a mixed terrain, mainly downhill. The roads are mostly narrow, and after a steep descent, a sharp turn left will introduce to a longer climb, which is divided in two parts by a short descent. Once down again we face yet a short steep climb and descent, before reaching the village of Georgeopulis on the seaside. After crossing the village, we climb one more time, following a larger road with smoother gradient. Quite spectacular is the final descent, particularly in its last part, where we can enjoy the view of the peninsula of Chania with sunset light.
The third stage is a short gem, switching from a rock and sea landscape to narrow paths surrounded by olive trees, under a clear blue sky and a bright sunshine. Leaving Kolymvari we follow the coast of a peninsula towards north until a sharp turn introduces to a spectacular short but steep climb. Once the steepest part is over, the road continues uphill more irregularly. A short steep descent introduces a second irregular uphill section, alternated by a mixed terrain. The final descent is also spectacular, before reaching the plan of Kissamos.
Stage 4 offers some of the most beautiful sceneries of Crete. It rides the scenic costal route of the west of Crete, and the landscape is of stunning beauty. We take about 5km and a short climb to reach the beginning of the show. The costal route lies at an intermediate height with respect to the mountains behind, where at each curve a new different portion of blue sea appears on our right. After 10km a fast descent takes us almost to the sea level, before facing a slightly longer climb which will bring us up to the same height. The route continues with a mixed terrain, which turns into a more regular climb after a while, when moving towards the inside of the island. Eventually a long fast descent will bring us back to the sea. The last kilometres at the level of the sea are undulated, following the road to the paradisiac beach of Elafonisi. This route or a boat trip are the only ways to reach this absolutely incredible place.
While the first four stages presented only moderate difficulties, stage 5 constitutes a step change, with three long and difficult climbs in a row. From Elafonisi we ride back along the coast for a few km. The first climb begins smoothly but soon becomes very steep in its central part. A short descent leads directly to the second climb, which presents constant and easier gradients, followed also by a regular and fast descent. The third climb is the highlight of this stage. It is very tough in the beginning and a slightly easier second part. The road is very narrow and leads to a military installation on the peak of the mountain. In the upper part the view opens to a magnificent landscape. The descent follows same road, and when back to the original route, it continues with a mixed terrain. A fast descent leads to the last uphill effort of the day, followed by another one towards Paleochora. Not to miss the spectacular view when approaching the sea in the last kilometres.