Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Two Castle Loop

After a couple of days break from riding I was getting twitchy legs, time to saddle up  and head out whatever the weather I thought. I wanted to ride between Kantara Castle and Buffavento Castle so I combined two of my regular loops and came up with a cunning and somewhat painfull looking plan. 

At 8.30 am the sun was shining and although very cold I was oon overheating. I took off a base layer, arm warmers and continued sweating up the Kantara climb.  The skies to the West where I was heading looked very ominous, I resolved to do it regardless of the weather. 

It was too cold to keep stoppong to take photographs, it was definatly one of those rides where the name of the game was MTFU head down and get on with it. At Tirmen I was 'chased' up the climb my two young lads trying to race me while shouting 'Hello sir hello sir' all the way up! I rode through the middel of a goat herd and felt snowflakes on my cheeks in the Mountains. There were very few people around, most were hibernating inside, and with very good reason!

At Buffavento cafe the heavens finally opened and thick heavy rain drops cracked onto my helmet, my shades fogged up and I was momentarily blinded, not great at 40mph on a bicycle!

By now I was only thinking about several things, hot tea, a hot shower, a warm fire, dry clothes, a warm bed and more hot tea. I havn't has such thoughts since my Lands end to John O'Groats ride back in the UK!

I wil ride this route a lot more in springtime, it will be stunning then.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The cold ride to Kantara Cafe

I woke up to the news that it was snowing here and in Famagusta. Instantantly I formulated a plan to build a snowman sitting at the poolbar. Unfortunatley the snow was not settling and I reverted to plan B, riding up the Mountain in freezing temperatures just for the sheer hell of it. 

The wind was strong and from the North, it felt a lot colder than I was expecting in the wind chill factor. Two layers of gloves, three base layers under my cycle shirt, head buff, wind stopper long tights, over shoes, arm warmers and no breakfast and I was off. I told myself it would be touger to get to the climb than the climb itself. I was right, the wind was extreme and took my breath away at times. It was time to MTFU and keep going, no matter how slow. Reaching the climb was a relief, as the familier switchbacks commenced I was sheltered a little from the wind, the climbing was the easy bit here, the wind was the main pain feature of this ride!

At the top there was no way I was stopping, I couldnt afford to cool down any further, so I headed straight along the top and back down to Iskele as fast as I could. All the time thinking of just two things, the times I'd riden this ride complaining of the unforgiving summer sunshine, and the full English breakfast that I would order on arrival back at Caesar resort!

I saw just two cars on this entire ride and only one person outside!

Although it was seriously cold out there today at least I was out there. In the UK it is hellish, and wet as well as freezing cold and dark with murderous traffic. Here although cold, th esun did make a good effort and the roads were empty as usual. This was as near to perfect as a freezing cold winter ride an get I reckon. I havent been so cold on  a bike since I cross McKenzie pass volcano in America on my trans American bike ride!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Brass Monkey Loop

No pictures today, it was way to cold to risk taking the gloves off! I set out just to keep the legs turning , no real intention of a proper ride in these temperatures. The wind was very strong from the North, coming off the Russian continent. It's brought snow to the Troodos already and the Mountains behind Girne I'm told. The actual temperature in the Sun was about 6c but the wind chill took it right down to freezing I'm sure. 

The great thing about this is that here in Northern Cyprus I knowit will only last a few days, whereas in the UK it will take until May in all probability to warm up! Also here it is sunny and totally rideable if you are ' well 'ard enuff innit', which today I decided not to be ha ha!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Rainy rest day

Well it's been cold and rainy here for two days now so I've taken an executive decision and wimped out of riding in theses conditions. However I couldn't resist taking a few pictures out and about today. Northern Cyprus is really beautiful right now, green all over !

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Leggit to Dipkarpaz and back

Last night I had a Pizza. This is unforgiveable and as such I resolved to ride off the damage this morning. It's been cold recently with a strong wind. UK peeps reading this will scoff at my definition of the word 'cold' no doubt, however they havent experienced the North Cypriot wind chill factor on a bike. Trust me, I was well justified in my choice of long cycletights, overshoes, two base layers, a cycle shirt, and arm warmers today.

I checked my emails, deleted them and jumped on Celeste. She is used to being jumped on at the crack of Dawn and didnt utter a single word, just smiled and and got on with the job in hand, the trip to DipKarpaz.

The new Marina 

Usually I ride into the wind to start with and let it blow be home. However this wasnt possible today given the south westerly 'breeze'. The plus side was that I had tail winds for most of the ride to Dip Karpaz. Thesun was out, the island was green, the sheep were happy, the farmers were happy the driver I saw was happy. All this added up to a very happy Cyclist this morning!

Lovely secluded coves 

As I rode along first class empty roads enjoying the scenery I let my mind wander. I felt free, happy and in control of my life. I thought about how lucky I am to be able to do rides like this regularly. I'm no spring chicken any more and I've had my fair share of life's curved balls thrown my way, but this morning on the bike  none of that mattered one little bit. I wasnt thinking of anybody, or anything in particular, just allowing my mind empty itself of lifes irrelevances and remain 100% in the moment. I was enjoying being relatively fit for my age. I didnt loose my breath at any point on this ride, just steady normal breathing all the way around. I was secretly very proud of who I have become again over the last seven years and was finding it hard to keep a huge smile from my face as I rode along without a care in the world.


Young children selling flowers at the roadside waved at me and shouted hello, two police officiers waved, as di several tractor drivers, fruit sellers and workmen on the roadside. Here in Northern Cyprus the locals are friendly and interested in road cyclists. This is how the UK should be again.

Downtown DipKarpaz

I stopped for two bananas in DipKarpaz ( the type you eat not the types walking across the road) before turning Celeste into the wind for the return leg.

Flocks of sheep everywhere

Because it was cold the light was much clearer than on previous rides to DipKarpaz. The heat hazes of summer were absent and the island took on a completely different perspective. I rode this route several times in late summer and it wasn't as beautiful then as it was today.

I could be in Switzerland!

More sheep

The wind on the way back was strong, but I just felt so good today out there that it really didnt matter. I simply told myself it was a forgone conclusion I would get back soon and got on with the job.

This new house caught my eye

By now the sun had given way to grey clouds and it was getting colder still. I was back before the sun dropped to low however .

I really enjoyed this ride, the bike, my fitness, and my head space were all good!

Friday, 2 January 2015

St.Barnabos Monastry loop

The first ride of 2015 and a windy one at that. I headed west along the plain on the direction of Nicossia, the plan being to turn left there and head back towards the coast and back. In the event the skies didn't bode well for that loop. The wind was sapping my energy and it was cold again. I had two options, mtfu and get on with my sufferring or cut the ride short and head back via salamis to a warm jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi option was the more sensible.

I stopped at St. Barnabos monastry where an English tourist woman tutted and told me not to run her over as she got out of her tin can. Only an English driver would have said that, hopefully she will go back soon to the land where her stupid car is king. Here it is not. Here bikes and drivers are on the same side.

Thankfully the Monastry dog had better manners.  As I dismounted he barked aggressively, no doubt because he was more used to ignorant English drivers than a road cyclist. As soon as I said hello he became who he really was, a friendly loving bundle of fun!

The.English woman muttered something about bloody dogs as she finally managed to squeeze her blubber back inside her tin can.
I didn't go inside, I wanted to keep riding and didn't need to cool down too much.
The ride back along the coast to le plage longues was fun, then I hit the cafe for a hot coffee and freshly squeezed fruit juices.
33 miles and home before the rain came down this afternoon!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Years Eve in the Mountains

2014 Has been one hell of a ride for me. Not only on, but also off the bike. It has been a year of massive positive change as I move ever forward in my new life. I've done and experienced so much this year, made lot's of new friends , and though pushing through th echanges hasn't been easy, I find myself well placed to move on further during 2015. As such I wanted to see out the year with a great ride, and the route I chose did not disappoint.

I checked the weather forcast last night and it looked like I was in for a cold windy ride with the occassional sunny periods. That is exactly what I got, however the forcast made no allowance for the wind chill factor, especially at altitude, this was a cold ride!

Rubic was on form, his wheels purring under me, a real joy to ride! I was was tired however and sufferred (in style) on the stat of the climb out of Getcickale. I was wearing arm and leg warmers and full finger gloves which can be restrictive.

Once past Malladag the ride opened up properly as the hills started to undulate and the scenery got better and better. I know this route well and have taken lots of photos along it on previous rides, it was cold and stopping just made me chill faster, so I limited my photo stops on this ride. Still I couldn't resist taking a few. 



I found the climbs up and over the mountains around Esentepe easier than on previous occassions. I was focused on something different, keeping warm. Usually on this ride it is so hot I'm sufferring from dehydration, today was very different!

Reaching Buffavento cafe I resisited the temtation to have coffee with a plastic Santa Claus and flew down the descent into Girne overtaking any traffic in my path! I think I saw no more than ten cars on the entire ride today, what a priviledge that is for a road cyclist. Cars are the single biggest threat to my life out there and I was happy I was riding in car free Northern Cyprus and not the UK.

In Girne I decided against visiting the harbour. This was not a sight seeing ride, Ive seen it many times before and I needed to push on. I knew the sun was going to set around 4.30 and I needed to make sure I was back home before it got really cold as the sun dropped. 

The ride back along the Northern coastline was a challenge. The wind was strong and gusting from the South and from the East making life on the hills pretty difficult in places. I stopped for water at a small Market store and met a fellow road rider,  Furkan,  from mainland Turkey on a really nice Pinarello bike. It is rare to see another road rider out here so when I do I always make a point of saying hello. The guy in the shop let me have a cake and a coke for 2TL less than the marked up price just because he liked bikes, this just would never happen in the UK!

I knew I had another big climb before the home run I had several choices of pass through the Mountains but chose to cross at Mersenik again. This climb was better protected from the cold Southerly wind and I needed all the help I could get at this stage in the ride! The wind however really did make this climb a lot tougher than usual. It was cold and powerful, and in places it had me stopping for breath.

Finally I reached the top and could see the entire Messaoria plain laid out in front of me. It is so green now, a real contrast to the dustbowl it was in the summer months. Here it was time to let go of the brakes and leg it down to Iskele and a warm shower! Job done.

This was a great ride to finish the year off with. I wish everybody I know , and those I don't, a very Happy and Peaceful 2015. May your wheels keep on turning !