One of our mountain bike routes starting directly from Heraklion without car.
The ride is not long but there are some extremely steep uphill sections that will test your power, but when you reach the top (especially if you don’t push the bike) you will feel great satisfaction.
The first part of the route a small valley with gardens, olive trees and vine yards is excellent for warm up. The first time we passed from here we did not believe that there is such a beautiful place so close to Heraklion. The valley where many runners come for training ends with a very steep uphill at Vasilies.
After Agios Vlassis village starts the second uphill section to the slopes of Giouchtas. We will pass next to Metochi Trantallidi which according to N. Psillakis was a monastery but now has become a sheepfold. A few meters higher and we reach the Western roots of Giouchtas. The mountain of Zeus looks like a giant who enjoys his eternal sleep.
This is the most beautiful part of the route. The view to all directions is spectacular. North Heraklion city the big castle, west the hills of Heraklion, Koudouni, Skinakas and Stroumpoulas mountains, south Profitis Ilias village and at the east the vertical cliffs of Giouchtas. If you are lucky you might gaze and vultures nesting at the cliffs. The western vertical slope of the mountain is called "nuns cells" as there was the Monastery of the Savior where Catholic nuns lived and many believe that it was the hermitage of Saint Paul.
At the highest point of the route at 441 meters you will see Rocca. The impresive rock where the Vyzantine general (and later Emperor) Nikiforos Fokas built Temenos castle and transferred the capital of Crete when liberated Crete from the Arabs at 960 A.C (now the village is called Prophet Ilias). A little closer the Giouchtaki hill a similar but slightly smaller rock than Giouchtas. The descent to the asphalt requires attention because at some spots the road is damaged.
When we reach the asphalt we ride through Agios Silas and Agios vlassis villages and we return back to Sinani square from a very nice dirt road passing through Lofoupoli.