Traversing the Myths of Greece

How does it feel to pedal through the realms where ancient gods once roamed, at elevations that touch the skies?

Written by
Gerhard Czerner
min read
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Following his captivating adventures in Italy, Oman, and the sunny coasts of California, Gerhard Czerner’s latest escapade, ‘Traversing the Myths of Greece,’ elevates his journey to new heights. Alongside his friend and photographer Martin Bissig, Gerhard pedals through Greece’s storied landscapes, exploring the fabled paths of its tallest mountain. The narrative vividly intertwines the adrenaline of mountain biking with the awe-inspiring vistas and mythological history that define this ancient land. From the punishing gravel of Litochoro’s ascents to the breathtaking panoramas at the Muses Plateau, and the thrilling descents that follow, Gerhard and Martin confront the elements and the myths to capture the essence of modern exploration, powered by pedal and perseverance.

Images by Martin Bissig.


Twenty-five years ago, Greece’s towering mountain mass, Olympus, witnessed its inaugural bike traverse. At that time, bicycles still featured racks and lacked suspension forks. Despite technological advancements, the journey across what is mythologically known as the Throne of Olympus remains an enigmatic experience. 

It puzzles me why Zeus and his divine companions would choose such a place for their abode. The icy winds that sweep across Olympus' barren peaks are so fierce that even my down jacket struggles to provide warmth. This seems hardly suitable for a god clad only in sandals and a lightweight toga. The relentless gusts rattled our tent walls throughout the night, and my friend Michael’s sleep was evidently disrupted, his swollen eyes searching the cloudless morning sky. It appears Zeus isn’t too irate with our presence, considering the absence of his legendary thunder and lightning used to banish unwanted guests from his realm.



Opting for a beach vacation in Greece is commonplace, but we, as true mountain bikers, sought something extraordinary. We set our sights on Olympus, the nation’s loftiest peak, rising majestically near the northern coastline. This formidable natural fortress, crowned with peaks nearly identical in height, beckons the adventurous to traverse its expanse. We weren’t the first to heed this call. In our research, we stumbled upon an account of the first crossing by Stefan Etzel and Christian Smolik in 1989, which suggested that mountain biking was still in its early stages at that time. These pioneers had to improvise by sitting on their racks to navigate without front suspension.

Eager to experience these historic passages with modern equipment, we still had a considerable climb before beginning our descent. Choosing the pioneer route but in reverse, we aimed for a more challenging ascent, which we planned to complete over two days with a night spent in our tent. Starting from Litochoro, we battled our way up to 2700 meters through coarse gravel made treacherous by the strengthening wind. Occasionally, I glanced towards the summit, half-expecting to see Zeus in his billowing robe, ready to strike us down. Fortunately, our bulky gear was carried by mules, allowing us to travel lighter. We set up camp on the stark yet breathtaking Muses Plateau, contemplating various potential routes for the next day.

The wind intensified overnight rather than subsiding. It took considerable effort to pack up our windswept tent and gear. With numb fingers, we resumed our climb towards Skolio peak. Although it stands seven meters shorter than the main peak of Mytikas, Skolio is deemed navigable by bike. Traversing the near-horizontal face of Mytikas on a path barely as wide as a handlebar, one false move could send a rider plummeting into mythological doom. The steep ascent required us to dismount and carry our bikes, reinforcing our respect for the pioneers who dared these paths without the aid of modern bikes.

Upon reaching Skolio’s summit, we were greeted by an octagonal stone pillar marked with a summit book. The ferocious wind made it difficult to see if other bikers had left their signatures, forcing us to quickly shut the book. While October’s weather was challenging, the clarity of the vistas was unmatched. Facing the Mytikas, it stood firm against the gales, like a colossal sail of rock.



Beyond, the Pindos Mountains stretched towards Albania, a sanctuary for lynxes, wolves, and bears. Looking eastward, the Aegean Sea shimmered, a stark contrast to our chilly ascent. Now, a mere 3000-meter descent separated us from the warm beach below. Stiff and cold, we remounted our bikes. The descent was initially awkward due to the loose gravel, but soon we found our rhythm, the thrill of the ride reinvigorating our spirits.

Passing Refugio Seo, one of Olympus’s mountain huts, we paused for a stark "Greek coffee," the robust flavors reviving our senses. The hut's host informed us it was open from June to October and often fully booked during peak periods, highlighting the need for early reservations.

Refreshed, we continued down the inviting path, a narrow trail littered with rubble that felt like navigating a towel-sized corridor in the sky. Intermittent rocks provided opportunities for brief, exhilarating jumps, enhancing the sensation of flight. However, concentration was crucial as treacherous switchbacks demanded our full attention. The stakes were high, as the remote location meant rescue options were limited, a stark reminder of the risks involved in such adventures.

Descending past the 2000-meter mark, we were enveloped by a lush, vibrant forest, a stark contrast to the rocky ascent. The warmth of the forest was a welcome relief after the harsh mountain winds. Opting for an autumn visit meant fewer hikers and more solitude. We encountered only a few local hikers eager to capture a moment with us, bidding us "kalo taxidi" or “safe travels.”

As we reached the beach, the setting sun cast deep hues over the Aegean, and we built a campfire from driftwood, reflecting on our journey. The vast potential of Olympus for bikers was still largely untapped, and we vowed to return. As the waves lapped at the shore, I half-wished Poseidon would emerge to offer a fish, a whimsical thought to end our epic journey.













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Author Bio

Gerhard Czerner

Gerhard Czerner is a passionate mountain biker, traveler, and author. With a love for nature and adventure, he guides and trains enthusiasts while sharing his experiences on his website and through his Instagram.

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