Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Trans American Bike Race for the Iskele Dog Rescue Centre!


Meet Harry

I'm going to ride my bicycle 4300 miles across the USA in the 2018 Trans Am Bike raising urgently needed funds for the Iskele Dog Shelter in Northern Cyprus.

The Dogs:


The Dogs REALLY NEED your urgent help RIGHT NOW! Northern Cyprus has a massive number of stray, abused, sick & injured Dogs. The situation is out of control and this shelter, although totally swamped, is doing all it can to save as many of these innocent distraught Dogs as possible. But it's not easy. The centre URGENTLY needs funds to pay for the simple basics, like FOOD, Vets, dog blankets, bowls and above all right now VACCINATIONS. The Island has recently suffered major outbreaks of Distemper and in this rescue centre alone some 70+ dogs have died because of lack of proper vaccinations and care facilities! MORE DOGS WILL DIE without the proper care they NEED.


Although set up by the local council the centre relies on volunteers to save these poor dogs. Volunteer comment:
"Our group is about making the lives of the stray and abandoned dogs in the Iskele dog shelter better. A small, dedicated team of volunteers regularly visit the shelter at weekends to feed, clean and play with the dogs that are there - through no fault of their own. Any money raised goes directly to paying for better food and urgent medication that is needed. The local council are in overall charge of the shelter and are working harder now (thanks to a bit of pressure) to improve facilities. For example, a veterinary block is being built and solar panels put up.
On this page
we shall keep you up to date with all developments at the shelter and we (and our furry friends) are grateful for your interest and support - wherever you are xxx"
The volunteers do a fantastic job with almost zero resources. It is also very demanding work, both physically and emotionally. Here is a recent volunteer comment:
"Those of you that have attended the Shelter recently will remember the shy, quiet & sad eyed little girl in pen 11. She would perch herself on the food box in her pen and just sit & stare ignoring any commotion going on around her. If you entered her pen she would run & try to hide and it was almost impossible to touch her or even give her a treat. She left a lasting impression & when I recently returned briefly to the U.K. I couldn’t get her sad, haunting, emotionless face out of my head. A couple of weeks ago, you may recall, we had a bad day at the Shelter arriving on a Sunday morning to a scene of utter carnage after two pens were left open resulting in dogs running amok, fighting & creating a chaotic mess in the walkway. One of the ‘offending’ pens was number 11 but when I arrived she was the only dog still inside, still sat on her perch, nervously watching the events going on all around her. I decided that I would try to befriend her and, on my next visit, take her for a walk. Easier said than done! When I entered the pen she was again trying to hide & resisting all attempts for any contact. I eventually managed to loop the rope lead around her neck which caused her to panic & frantically struggle. In her eyes I guess it was like a noose as she had no recognition that a lead meant walkies. I persevered and got her out of the pen, kennel block and away from the Shelter. She then seemed to calm down and I decided, maybe foolishly, to let her off the lead to allow her to run around for some meaningful exercise. I’m glad I did, it was a joy to watch. She started leaping around like a gazelle, running through the long grass, new & different smells, releasing all her built up insecurities, a free spirit. This may well have been the first time she had ever seen the outside world. I’ll admit now that it was a hard job to get her back (after all she didn’t understand). At one stage I thought she’d run off and I’d lost her but, no, after a few minutes of worry on my part she returned to the entrance to the Shelter and, with much relief, I was able to return her reluctantly to pen 11. Things have dramatically changed now. She completely trusts me & eagerly awaits my visits sitting not nervously on her box but excitedly by the door of her pen, hoping for a sight of that lead, knowing that she will soon be going for another walk. We have bonded and I am able to recall her, fuss with her & even tickle her belly. With so many dogs at the shelter I guess I really shouldn’t have favourites but . . . . . she’s my favourite. The purpose of this story is to illustrate how worthwhile volunteering can be. It can be very tough & challenging but also so very rewarding. Please join us if you can. I should add that this beautiful little girl is still available for adoption & will make a wonderful loyal & loving pet."

Your kind donation will go directly to the Volunteer group and used to provide the urgent needs of these poor Dogs. Their lives matter, we can help save them, and hopefully get them adopted into caring human homes. Your donation will in short directly improve each Dogs life expectancy and quality of life at the shelter, and chances of leading a happy life once adopted. Without such kind help, many face an extended period of illness and likely more will continue to suffer & die.

The race:

The Transam bike race is the longest self supported endurance bicycle race on the planet. The route covers a distance or around 4300 miles which is roughly twice the distance of the Tour De France. Riders will climb the equivalent of 5.72 times the height of Mount Everest on this route. I've been training as much as I can this year and have ridden 3629 miles so far in 2018 and climbed 171,634 feet, so less than the race will demand but I feel ready. This race is 'unsupported' meaning riders are not allowed to have ANY help at all, no support vehicles, no help whatsoever outside being able to use 'commerical establishments such as shops publicly available along the route'. There are no team mechanics, no doctors, and each rider is 100% on their own. The first finishers in the last two years took just 18 &17 days. An average of approximatley 240 miles a day on a heavy loaded bike with all the equipment you need to cross the United States with NO support. I am 56 and much less likely to achieve that! My aim is simply to get across as fast I can safely however long that may take. There is no prize for finishing or winning. Just your own pride. It truely is a real endurance test, both on and off of the bike.
How do you follow the Trans am bike race?
I will be carrying a GPS spot tracker device on my bicycle. You can see the rider gps location updates here:
The race starts on June 2nd 2018 so the gps trackers won't be switched on until then. Go to the site and click on Transam bike race when it starts.
There is a Facebook group worth joining if you want to follow all the race 'chat' as it happens, you will get a more interactive 'race following experience' by joining this group.
and if you want to learn more about the race just google Transam bike race.
There is a list of confirmed riders here:
50% of riders in this race do not make it to the finish. It's not an easy ride! I have made it across before and fully intend to do so again, only faster. I make no guarantees other than I will do my very best, and all donations will go directly to the Dog volunteers and used ONLY for the direct benefit of the Dogs they care for regardless of if I finish or not.
I have privately fully funded all my Race expenses, such as flights, bike, equipment, specialized clothing, GPS units, mechanical stuff, insurance & a thousand other things ! That means every penny you give will directly benefit the Dogs & is not in anyway being used to support my race costs. I am not a registered charity. I just want to help these poor unfortunate Dogs because thier lives matter . Please donate on that basis.


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Wednesday, 27 April 2016


I still love Cycling here in Northern Cyprus. I haven't updated this blog on this last trip simply because I've already blogged just about all the decent rides out here, so much of this last rip would have been similar to previous routes etc.

These last few months have been the usual mix of top class routes, stunning scenery, challenging climbs, death defying descents, and all that goes with riding a road bike here in the Turkish sector of Cyprus.

Road cyclimg in Northern Cyprus is spectacular. To get the most out of it however you must come well prepared in terms of routes, fitness, equipment and time of year. DO NOT COME IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER!

I've been getting an increasing number of enquiries from riders asking for help, guidence and routes etc. I am very happy to help and advise although I'm not going to do all your route planning and donkey work for you! If you are after .gpx files for these rides the best thing is to contact me and ask, or friend/follow me on Strava (Rolf Riley). I found the best routes out here by exploring them myself, and being 100% self reliant. There is no substitute for self reliance here. Many riders from Europe, particularly England are used to riding in clubs with support vehicles, on organized rides. Thats fine, but it won't be like that here. There won't be an easy fix if you break your bike out in the mountains and you will need to be able to fix it yourself, or walk home! Learning to ride alone and unsupported is what it's all about out here, so come ready for that. Also be sure to bring your own spares. This is not the European Union and high end road bike spares are very hard to source. In the UK I hav esix bike shops in my Town and it's easy to become complacent. Here there are just two I know of and they don't compare to a UK high end bike store in any way.

A typical route file from my Strava activity log. My 'Betwwen tow Castles' ride. This ride is 104 miles with over 5500m climbing through the best scenery on the Island.

Please spend some time drilling down through this blog archive, it has loads of information and photographs of th ebest rides here in Northern Cyprus, as well as some of the best in the South and Troodos too.

For those serious Cyclists that do wish to ride here please feel free to get in touch if you feel I could help.  I wish you a happy and safe time road cycling in Northern Cyprus.

Rolf :)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How to suffer like a proper tart on a bike!

93km 1205m climb ave temp 28c

Determination is one thing, lack of ride planning is another. Today's ride served as a reminder that no matter how experienced you are there are always days when easy routes become tough rides. Today was such a ride. I should not have allowed the main climb to come in the heat of the mid day sun!

I know this route very well, I've ridden it many many times and so it was that I jumped on the bike and set off confident it was going to be a piece of cake. Cyclops (th eGod of all things cycling) had other ideas.

I was late leaving and as such had no realistic chance of getting back before the mid day heat kicked in. The humidity was high and getting higher, but I was cruising along feeling great! A pack of 4 dogs attacked from a local house ( I know this house well and they always come at me here) & I politely informed the woman owner that if her dogs come any closer I would simple bury my size 12 in their skulls one by one, like all iressponsible dog owners her initial reaction was to defend her 'poor wouldnt hurt a fly' mutts even while they were attacking....finally she calle d tem off and apologised, life is too short to not move on from idiots like these as quick as possible.

Climbing up through Balalan I felt a little nausious but kept pushing on, the village has a very steep section (only about 20m) but it is wheely time if you arnt careful!

After crossing the Mountain the descent to the other side was fast and furious, the wind here hits you hard on the descent gusting and you really have to be careful not to get blown off at 45mph!

I was feeling worse, and decided to take an energy gel as I knew the 600m+ climb at Kaplica was going to hurt soon. The wind and the heat were building and I was feeling very rough. At Kaplica i stopped for a breather at the bottom of the climb back over the Mountain. I was feeling really sick and so I pulle dinto the small supermarket just after the lacemakers house and got some cold water and stood in the shade for 10 minutes.

My legs felt like cotton wool, my head was spinning and it was all i could do to stop from vomiting. Clearly the heat, the pace against a strong wind and whatever I had to eat last night were combining to make life tougher than usual on this ride.

I took th ecall to not hand around and set off up the mountian again. Within minutes I was really suffering, vomited and felt the world spin around. Cyclops was being a right Git today.

This is a very tough climb, it is 6km long and 600m+ high, the humidity was making me sweat bucket loads and as soon as I drank I vomited. I had no choice but to keep going, on a bike there is no other option. I go to the top finally after a combination of walking, riding and swearing. But I did get to the top.


Here it was like riding in a steam bath, the clouds were low, the heat high and although Ive ridden up this climb many times today I was sufferring like a proper tart!

At the cafe in Kantara square I managed to keep some water down and rest. The downhill back to iskele was less fun than usual as I wa sshaking and feeling dizzy still. The wind at this pint decided to increase and turn against me, this was no surprise but I admit to giving Cyclops a good verbal kicking at this point!

As I rode back into Caesar resort the 'bellies' were hard at it devouring excessive quantities of chips and beer & looked at me with real distaste as I sweated past them. Little did they know what I had just done, little did they care, so I simply smiled and rode past happy to have lived every moment of the day I hadbeen given :)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Double Kantara

After this mornings ride up the mountain at kantara and back I decided it was only proper to do it again tonight. So having taken the 600m old goat road climb for the second time today I took an hour out of time and watched the sunset from my rock on the edge of the mountainside. The descent was even more amazing as the moon.rose in front of me all the way back. No matter what life throws next I had this.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Bellapais Abbey

Lovely ride today out from Iskele through the Mountains and over to Bellapais to support a friend running the Two Crusader Castles Run through the Kyrenia Mountains.

The Abbey here is well worth a visit, even if the final approach is somewhat STEEP for a road bike!

I have to say that I find it strange (but not unsurprising) how an Abbey like this has changed it's primary religion to 'Tourism Orthodox'. The place is very nicely kept and it's nice and scenic etc, but it's soul purpoose appears to be as a mecca for tourist with huge bellies, zoom lenses and sunburns, none of whom had expended any energy getting there whatsoever, yet were consumimg well in excess of ten times the calories I had burnt riding there. I downed a bottle of water and dozed on a shady bench while they got closer to God.

Then it was time to leave the touristy types behind and head over to the finish line of the Two Crusader Caste Ultra run. Here there the people put me to shame with their super human efforts running up to 80km (over two Marathon races!!!!!) across high mountains in 30C+ heat.


 I sat by the pool and 'suffered' while one by one the runners crossed the finish line in various states of disrepair and totally earned exhaustion.

Respect to all who started, attempted, and finished this epic event.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The walled City of Famagusta

Todays ride was to the Walled City of Famagusta.

Riding through the modern part of town is the usual mix of chaos and bad drivers you find in any city
but once you make it through to the old town its actually very nice.

Lot's of nice places for Lunch in the shade

How they used to play billiards here!

The old dungeon reserved for the tourists and drunks of yester year

chilling on the bench in the shade

The old Cathedral

all the trappings of touristville

Thursday, 14 May 2015

'Pink' Ladies

It's been fun riding with this group from Israel over the last few days. 

The rides were taken at a relaxed pace, and included local rides, Mountain trails, Crusader Castle, Anciant Roman City & nice Local fish lunches!

On the Kantara section of the Kyrenia Mountain Bike Trail

Just another 10 metres to go !

Local ride out from Caesar Resort towards the Mountains