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May 26, 2019

Larissa, Greece

Rode around Mt Olympus today.  Well, not in a circle but around the area.  I can see its classic shape from my camp site.  Followed a path that has been used since before 1000bc.  Stopped at an archeological site that I had to myself.  Had to get around a locked gate and over a small creek, but worth the effort. It was a small manufacturing and hospitality facility.  The inn was first in use around 1100bc.  Imagine having a glass of wine after a hard day of travel in those times.  
As I was cycling along a highway safety truck kept passing in one direction or the other honking and waving each time.  I wondered if he knew my friend and fellow safety truck driver from yesterday.  
Sorry my dinner just arrived.  Be back later.

Ok, back from dinner.  
Yesterday, I rode the national highway (interstate) for a while.  I have ridden many interstates in the US.  I find them easy, comfortable and safe.  The scenery sometimes is lacking but riding the Greek plains there is a big benefit to the small roads.  The national takes a lot of the hills out of the ride.  Sometimes that is good thing.  
I was moving along at 20 to 25 kms per hour with ease.  The constant tail wind generated by the traffic and the fairly constant surface was very nice.  I saw a sign that reminded drivers that there were cameras along the roadway for their safety.  It sparked a feeling.  Something was happening.  Shortly after that I saw a safety truck going the other way and he honked as we passed.  Now I knew something was up.
I rode past and exit thinking I should get off this road.  I suspected it was not legal but had seen no signs making that statement.  I looked in my mirror to see the safety truck on the shoulder and waving at me.  I pulled over and walked back to the truck.   
“You know it is forbidden for you to ride this road.”  
“No, I saw no signs.”
“You must get off now!” he said but in a pleasant voice tone.
Where I asked.  The exit was a couple of miles back and there was the typical freeway fence.  
“I will help you.”  This should be interesting.
He got out and we walked up to a place where the fence was on a section of old pavement that was no longer used but connected to the old road. He looked it over and took out a pair of metal cutting pliers.  No, he really is not going to do this.  But, yes he began cutting the fence down.  Who would believe this was happening?
As he cut we talked about his job and life.  He liked what he did and said it was a very good job.  He saw his life as good and enjoyed his family and living in his town, Larissa.  The national highway center had been watching me on their monitors for a while and had dispatched him to handle the situation, he said.  So I guess I am a national star.  He continued to cut and then realized that he was cutting in the wrong place and we moved down a little.  Now he really could cut down the fence.
After about a half hour we pulled the fence mostly out of the way and then lifted my bike over the remaining part.  Now I was on one side and he the other.  He told me the road would take me all the way to Larassia.  Well, he was partly right.  There were interruptions in the road, but not hard to get around.
It is amazing that he thought that a 2 lane road with almost the same speeds as the national but no shoulders and limited sight distances was safer somehow.
OK, enough safety lecture.  What an amazing experience!  Think about a state trooper or a highway safety working doing anything like that in the US.  A truly Greek time.

–Bill H.

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