Waking up seems to be the hardest thing to do here, especially with nearly anything you could want a mere phone call away. We persevered however, managing to make breakfast at the leisurely time of 10AM. My wife really only had one goal for the day: ride her first bike in Europe, something that had gone unrequited the whole trip. So once we were fed and happy we went up to the equipment hire shed and procured ourselves 2 bikes to take on an adventure. The shed operator let us know of a few attractions nearby that we could cycle too and so we headed out to the first of them.
The town of Nea Moudania was reminiscent of other rural coastal towns I’d been in before. Cafes lining the beach, odd shops dotted along behind them and from there a mix of residential and other commercial buildings. It did have a rather large harbor however and I’d hazard a guess that that’s where it derives the bulk of its income. At the top of one of its hills lies the church, a massive monument that towers over much of the region. We didn’t go inside, since they neglected to give us bike locks, but it was an impressive structure to see in such a small town. Satisfied we decided to head back down the other way.
It was a similar story as we made our way up north with cafes and residential buildings hugging the coast. We took a detour through the various apartment blocks to see if there was any shops we wanted to look in but it was mostly just small supermarkets. Again the poverty that Greece is struggling with was evident with numerous abandoned structures and others in varying states of disrepair. Still many of the cafes and bars along the coast seem to be doing an alright trade, surprising given their proximity to our resort.
The ride there and back had been relatively easy, thanks to the rather small changes in elevation, however the ride back up to the top of the resort quick took all our remaining energy away. The shop operator expressed his disbelief that we’d managed to make it to both of his suggestions in the time we’d be gone, saying it’d take him just as long to get to one. Turns out we hadn’t made it to his other suggestion: a small village that was a few more kilometers away from where we’d turned around. Ah well, we can always try again another time,
We then went down to the beach to cool off and try our hand at rock stacking again (it’s surprisingly relaxing). As the hours ticked away I mentioned that we should probably head back to get lunch but my wife suggested we just get something down there. Calling over one of the attendants we ordered ourselves a few drinks and some food. The drinks came quickly, necessitating that I get another beer (oh the horror), but the food took quite a while to make its way to us. Still its hard to complain when you’re lounging on a sun chair next to a lovely beach.
I then made my way back up to the room to spend an hour or two reading while my wife stayed at the beach. This proved to be something of a fools errand, the carbs and beer hitting me with a food coma of epic proportions. I think I managed a single chapter before my wife returned, my kindle lying in my lap when she knocked on the door. We then returned to the indoor pool and sauna area, spending an hour or so relaxing before we made our way to dinner.
We attempted to make reservations at one of the restaurants for dinner but they were all booked and so we headed back to the main buffet. The offerings there are always good, including their large wine list. They didn’t have the one I wanted but they had a similar region and style. Our waiter also got a little aggressive with serving it, telling me “You think I don’t see?”, pointing to the meager effort I had made in draining the bottle before pouring me a huge glass. I finished it of course, although that did make the walk home a lot harder than it needed to be.
On the way back my wife grabbed a DVD from their library to watch whilst I roamed around the resort, taking a few photos (one of which adorns this post). I was probably an hour or so late, the usual intense pink and orange hues dimmed significantly now that the sun had dropped below the horizon. I’ll likely try again tomorrow as the colors are quite spectacular and worthy of being captured.
I’ll hazard a guess tomorrow will bring more of the same, although I might avoid the bikes for a bit. Whilst it turns out that you never really forget how to ride it does seem your ass can forget and mine is none too happy about what I put it through.
You know what gets me excited? Projects like this one that break our usual paradigms, reshaping the way we think about a particular problem space:
Anyone who’s done some industrial design or materials science will tell you that strength is a relative thing. There’s a whole bunch of materials that are “stronger than steel” but that trait usually only applies to a particular trait that the supposed better material excels at. Cardboard, whilst not being able to boast anything strength gains over steel, has the rather awesome advantage of being cheap, light and almost limitlessly available. Constructing durable, reusable products out of it is something that I haven’t really seen done before and a cardboard bike shows that it can be a very capable material when you carefully engineer around its shortcomings.
Honestly when I first heard about this idea I was pretty sceptical. I figured that it was probably some kind of one off (which it is, currently) that wouldn’t work outside some very specific conditions. From the video though it’s quite clear that the bike is quite capable of replacing a regular fix speed bike without too many troubles. The next steps would be to include gears to make it a bit more usable, but for a first prototype of a production design its pretty spectacular.
The kicker of all this is just how cheap such bicycles could be. Whilst I doubt that the $90 price could be hit with all the work being done by hand I could very easily see something that’s being factory produced hitting that target. Gafni’s idea then that the bike would be “too cheap to steal” is an intriguing one as the black market for such an item would be incredibly low. I mean would by one second hand for $30 when the new one could be had for $60? I think not and crack fiends around the world aren’t going to work that hard to sell something like that when a GPS worth an order of magnitude more is just one window away.
Everything about this project is exciting to me. The radical use of materials, the incredible amount of engineering and the wider social impacts that such an invention could have. Should these eventually become available you can be assured that one will make it into my home, just because of the ideals it represents.