Sunday, September 23, 2018, 9:30 am
9:30 am in September may seem a bit late for the start of this difficult course, but for the participants who come from Sitia, Chania, Rethymno, or by boat from Heraklion is just right.
We start from the Lake of Agios Nikolaos and we head to Kalo Chorio by the old road. We cycle on a delightful road by the sea of the Mirabello Bay. We take advantage of these first 10 km as a warm-up for what is to come.
Arriving in the village of Istron (from the river Istrona) in Kalo Horio, turn right to Prina. Here begins the first extended 3rd class hill with smooth and steady slope (8km, 342m, 4.2%) overlooking to our right the plain of Kalo Chorio. The pine trees on our way remind us that before the great fire of 1994, the largest pine forest of Crete began from here to the Lybian sea, of which only parts are preserved today, mainly around Selakano and Symi. Trying not to get tired in the first sustained climb of the day, we arrive at Prina. There is a fresh water spring in the village, beside a unique church. We refuel and take the road to Kroustas, another third class climb about 10km, crossing a very beautiful section of the route, as we are now high and overlooking. Initially, we pass through the pine forest and later on towards Kroustas the landscape changes to vineyards, almond and olive groves. The uphills here are short, but more inclined. In this part of the route we will pass from the only dirt track of the route (about 800m, slightly downhill) crossing the impressive cliffs of “Dermatas”. In order to enjoy the view it is advisable to stop. Arriving at Kroustas, we stop for refueling and we head down to Kritsa village.
ATTENTION, at the exit of Kritsa, do not go towards Agios Nikolaos, but left to Ancient Lato. After Lato we will go down very cautiously, due to the narrow road and some ugly points on the road to the plain of Lakonia. We pass by the villages of Panagia and Karterides and we follow the direction to Lasithi Plateau at the junction. We cross the village of Agios Konstantinos, and in Drassi we turn right to Vrysses, from where we descend to Neapolis. At Neapoli (a historic town in the plain of Mirabello and home of "DRIROS" cycling club), those who choose to do the Medio Fondo, can have a big stop before heading back loosely towards Agios Nikolaos, crossing the plain of Mirabello.
Those who continue for the Gran Fondo will climb after Neapolis to Kourounes (3rd class, 8km, 350m, 4.4%). We arrive at the area of Pano Mirabello (upper Mirabello), a special area, untouched, dry, hard and straightforward, both in the landscape and in its people: stone fences everywhere, stone-built settlements with small houses, dug-up tanks for collecting rainwater, old small churches, overlooking the northern coastline of Crete. The area here is exposed to the wind. Enjoying this unique landscape, we reach (89 km) the point with panoramic view to the bay of Elounda, with the impressive fortressed island of Spinalonga, the village of Plaka below us and the mountain of Thrypi to the east. We rest on the downhill and the only flat part of Gran Fondo between Plaka and Elounda, preparing for the last 4th category uphill to Pines / Fourni (8,6km, 370m, 4,3%). We reach the plain and pass through the villages of Fourni and Kasteli. Then we only have a downhill route to Agios Nikolaos. We pass through the villages of Nikithiano and Limnes, crossing the plain of Mirabello, and following the old handbuild road, we reach Agios Nikolaos.
Mirabello Gran Fondo (126km, 2500m) route.
VIEW & DOWNLOAD THE ROUTE:
Mirabello Medio Fondo (75km, 1600m) will be the same route but will end in Neapoli.
Mirabello Gran Fondo
23 SEPTEMBER 2018 Agios Nikolaos CRETE