It’s that time of year again. Dark nights draw in. Chills seep into bones. UK wild nights out start to become more often endured than revelled in. Excuses are made. Plans go unfulfilled. But for all of us seasonal outdoor workers this marks the beginning of playtime. The busy summer becomes a memory as the adventure focus moves inwards. Now it’s our turn... So here at Adventure Pedlars, we do the only thing that makes sense. We go in search of sunshine, dusty trails and wine.
The cheap flight lottery lands us on Crete with two bike boxes, one tent and zero planning. A hasty online search reveals what seems like it might be a suitable goal. Dikteon Cave: tucked high up on the Lasithi Plateau on the island’s mountainous interior. It’s the mythical birthplace of the God Zeus and where he was (wisely) kept hidden away from a father who had a disturbing appetite for devouring his own offspring. It seemed as good a place as any to head for.
The question now was how to get there? Travelling on our Sonder Transmitter bikepacking rigs we were keen to stay off-road as much as possible and, whilst there seemed to be an extensive network of tracks and trails through the mountains, olive groves, and vineyards that dominate the majority of the island, navigating them successfully across the steeply rolling landscape without a guide or any obvious resources to call upon was a daunting prospect. In the end, the simplest solution proved most effective. Punch point A to point B into the Garmin, select ‘off road’ mode and blindly follow the line on the map…
Not knowing where you’re going can be a wonderfully liberating process. In an age where plans for every aspect of life need to be made and stuck to, the freedom of not knowing what’s just around the corner opens the door to endless surprises; the perfect bit of trail; a stunning view; mysterious, enchanting ruins; that charming, perfectly timed, taverna; peaceful, rugged wild-camping spots; endless, unexpectedly steep hills; friendly, curious and hospitable new friends; landscapes that shift the seasons within just a few hundred metres of ascent. Crete threw at us all of what we were looking for and more.
Carrying everything you need to be self-sufficient means that you can never really be lost. You are where you are and you’ll end up where you end up. Staying far from the beaten track showed us a side to the island that’s seldom glimpsed from beachside sun-loungers and despite being just a short easyjet hop away, the landscape, culture and history of the place washed over and absorbed us as much as any more far flung, exotic lands ever have. Here, submersed in the adventure, under the mystical, dripping stalactites of Dikteon Cave, we’re reminded, albeit for the umpteenth time, of the freedoms, simple joys and magic of bicycle travel. Pack up, saddle up and press esc. #goniceplacesdogoodthings #fidingfarawaynearby