Cycling is probably the best way ever to see a country. Fast enough to get you places, but slow enough to allow you to take in the sensory pleasures along the way. At 60, Chris Ward and his wife founded Break Away Greece, to bring bicycle touring to the Mediterranean classic. These are transformative journeys, taking in incredible coastal roads, along with some of big hills the pros ride, but always with time to stop at a local coffee shop. He left London, and began this venture because he says “In London, I was paying for my life with my time, and here it feels like time stands still.” Sounds like a good move.
How old are you?
I’m 60 now and got given a free bus and tube pass for London! Society expects me to start slowing down.
Where are you from and where are you living now?
I’m originally from London. My wife Helen and I currently split our time between here and Epidavros, a little fishing village in Greece. Two years ago, I was cycling down the whole coast line of Greece and believed I found paradise — amazing roads and views out to sea, in the middle of Ancient Greece and the friendliest village in the world 🙂 I decided to stop sending emails for a living and start a cycling holiday business: www.breakawaygreece.com. We managed to buy a villa and launched last year. We only split our time because my wife is still working full-time in London. We both live our passions. She is a stadium tour guide for Arsenal football club in the premiership — who she has supported since she was a small child.
“We believe that cycling can take you on transformative journeys that nourish your body, enrich your mind, and rejuvenate your spirit”
Tell us about your cycling retreat in Greece. What can someone expect if they went?
Hopefully, their very best cycling week or one of the other outdoor activities we organise from our waterfront villa in this outdoor paradise. They get to cycle tough climbs that the pros ride and beautiful coastal roads that take them to ancient Greek sites and famous islands for our morning coffee stops. Plus the best Mediterranean hospitality, food and drink, to finish each day with. Our aim is that every guest returns home feeling challenged, refreshed, and inspired.
We believe that cycling can take you on transformative journeys that nourish your body, enrich your mind, and rejuvenate your spirit. So, we created ‘Breakaway Plus’, so retreats here can act as a catalyst for improving physical and mental health or to utilise this special location for contemplation, reflection, and decision-making, amidst the inspiring beautiful nature and thousands of years of history.
What does one learn from cycling in a place like Greece?
That there are different ways to live. Life doesn’t need to be about buying more stuff. We’ve become more mindful of how we spend our time, rather than how we spend our money. It feels that in London I am paying for my life with my time; here, it feels like time stops still. Originally, there wasn’t a word for work; there was just the stuff you needed to do to feed and clothe your family, and whatever that may be would often be dictated by the weather and whatever produce was in season. It feels a little like that here still. Yesterday’s big news was the amazing rainbow that arched over the port. This is a place where life is rich in itself — rich in history, culture and the taste and smells of local cuisine!
“[In Greece], it feels like time stops still”
Can one rent a bike or do they get shipped?
Both are easily possible. Many guests bring their own bike, which is easy to do on flights these days, and many rent from us.
How is living in Greece?
We love it. We have been made to feel so welcome. Helen is Greek/English, so that has probably helped our integration.
Where is the most amazing place you have cycled?
I have cycled through China, Tibet, Nepal and India to the base camp of Mount Everest. That was amazing — spending two weeks immersed in life above 4,000m; a very different, barren world, but still people couldn’t have been friendlier and Google translate helped me have some amazing experiences with locals.
What advice would you give someone who wants to try cycling but is starting from 0?
Just start 🙂 on any inexpensive bike — and upgrade if you wish as you progress further and faster. One day a week, I cycle in whatever direction the wind is blowing and get the train back home — it’s a good way to have a micro adventure.