Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Kantara local loop

It's winter here and I'm able to ride in shorts still! Recently I went back to the UK during that time it was freezing, wet, dark and miserable. I was stuck inside unable to ride on all but two days in the three weeks I was there. The traffic over there was appalling as well as the weather, so I'm happy to be back out here where I can ride free of idiot drivers and in good to perfect weather for the mostpart.

When it does rain here however it really does rain hard. The island has had a lot of rain during my time away and the fields have all turned green again. It's looking good for a beautiful green spring cycling season out here for sure.

I've had a few things to be getting on with off the bike since arriving back and I've been taking it easy so far. Even three weeks off the bike for me has a negative effect on my fitness, and I wanted to ease back into things.

Today I decided to take Celeste back up to Kantara. I flew her out with me this trip so I have two bikes with me now. Rubic, a Cube agree 2014 Carbon race and Celeste a Bianchi 2010 alu carb Coast to Coast Via Nirone. Celeste is set up for the flatter rides with a campagnolo 12-28T cassette, but today Rubic had minor surgery to have his cassette replaced with an 11-32T to make my life a little easier on the climbs out here. Both bikes have a standard compact 50-34T front chainset.

The ride today was tougher than the last time I did it. I was tired and the wind took it's toll. I was happy to see my friends the three puppies, I had been giving water too in the summer, had all made it into adulthood! They are still living under the same tree, and seemed happy enough.

About half way up the climb I heard strange and concerning noises coming from Celestes headset and steerer tube. Mentally I re checked that I had fitted it all correctly after the plane trip, but even though I was sure I had, the moise was there regardless. At the top I was forced to pull over and take the steerertube out and re assemble it. It was rusted up and free of any grease, hence sticking and grinding. Not good. This was a result of riding in the rain recently back in England. I double checked it was safe before the long descent  and headed back. This part of the ride is always a lot of fun!

Back at 'base camp' it was time to pull celeste apart and grease her hwere she most needed greasing.

Meanwhile over in th ebike shop in Famagusta Rubic had been fitted with his new ultegra cassette, Chainset, chain, brakes, and cables after the pounding he took in the mountains here during the summer.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Back to Bogaz

Well today was a simple case of get on the bike and get the legs turning again after three weeks off bike in the UK .

As I turned the cranks the heavens opened up, I was in for a good soaking. I just said Sod it and started the ride. It was a dark grey day and the wind was strong. The rain came on stronger.

So I decided Bogaz was enough for day one. The ride back was quicker.

Celeste my bianchi was is back where she belongs.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Log Fire and hot coffee on top of Kantara

Log Fire?? Rain?? This is Cyprus right?? Yep it certainly is, which is why its still possible to ride these amazing rides in Mid November in Summer Cycle kit! Back in the UK all my mates are complaining about the foul weather, and have taken to challenging me on their Bkool turbo trainers, a sure sign they are unable to ride outside!

I really love this ride. It has become my local 'loop' and every time I ride it it gets better, more beautiful and more fun! I feel so lucky to be able to do this ride regularly.

The online weather God told me winter would arrive here today. I took a look out across the plain to the mountian from my terrace and decided winter wouldn't arrive until this afternoon. So I kitted up and rode off before breakfast. 

 Riding past the olive groves near Turnalar the three little puppies I have been allowing to drink from my water bottles since september, who live under a tree there , seemed to have grown up. They had learned to be scared and cautious around humans. I couldnt help but wonder what they had experienced to make them so cautious when all summer they had been so trusting of me. 

I was a little sad in a way because, they had become almost friends, however, in another way I felt better because I knew they were more likely to survive now.

Looking ahead to the horizon I saw the rare sight of two touring cyclists, loaded with panniers. Catching up I noticed their panniers had a German slogan on them and as such launched into my 'vast fliesent' Deutch!

This couple were touring the Island and this was their second day in Northern Cyprus. Heading up to the tip of the Karpaz  hugging the bottom of the Mountian range. We chatted for about ten minutes as we rode together, it's great to see Northern Cyprus starting to attract more cyclists from abroad.

My plan had been to ride up over the Mountain to Kaplica, but I was ready to change that plan if it started raining mid ride. Climbing in the rain is fine, but descending on some of these sharp gradiants would likely be slippy in the rain and I was on slick tyres, and would rather be safe than sorry out there.

The climb up was on a very familier old switchback road, turning right at the top I continued along to the Castle and back along to the cafe in the little square. Here the heavens opened as the thunder storm I had been trying to out run finally caught me up. 

I made a B line directly for the open log fire that had just been started, no doubt especially for cold roadies to steam in front of ha ha ! Ordering a hot coffee here was a new experience. Usually I am gasping for a litre of ice cold water and a coke when I arrive here! I like this little cafe, it is cosey and friendly and I always feel welcome.

 I am not one for Strava stats usually, mostly because I am often last having spent 'too much time' enjoying the views and exploring. However, today I managed to come in second on this Climb, which made me feel like some of my hard work was finally starting to pay off a little.

I mustn't boast however as both riders directly ahead and behind me are far better climbers than I am! I just had a huge thunderstorm up my backside for added motivation ha ha!

The rain was easing a little and although it was probably safe enough to ride down the 'snake' to Kaplica, I took the decision to descend to Iskele rather than risk another cold down pour halfway down. The switch backs on the 'Kaplica snake' are sharp and a single slip could be very dangerous. Better safe than sorry I thought. There will always be another day that way.

I set off along the top and down to Iskele. I let the video roll on the descent and took it easy. Hitting wet goat shit on a bend at nearly 40mph isn't funny!

View from my handlebar Hedcamz camera of the ride down the Mountain today. Let it run through and it will take you down the entire descent as if you were on the bike!

Reaching home I looked back to see the mountians had disappeared under the storm!

So I ate Turkish Yoghurt with Kantara Honey, and planned another ride!

The next day was a day off the bike here so what is a cyclist to do on such occassions?....yep thats right, make some new friends by jamming at the pool bar!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bafra Memetchik Mallidag Esentepe Buffavento cafe Iskele

Today was the second day riding in a group of 18 road cyclists from all over Germany. 90.75 miles 1664m climb max speed 46 mph.

I was tail end charlie at the back

Riding as a group near Kaplica

It wasn't all uphill!

approaching the road to Buffavento near Kyrenia

We started from the Hotel Artemis in Bafra heading out via Memetchik, over the Mountains, back over  them, then back over them again, until finally we climbed them again before reaching the Cafe at Buffavento. Here I said aufwiedersehen and turned for home and made it back just as the sun was setting.

I met Ben and Mohammed on top of the pass waiting for a mechanic as their van had broken down. Ben used to live in Brighton! It's a small world after all!

Futten pause!

looking back at the Mountians we rode across and through all day today

The first non dry lake I ever saw on the Messaoria plain!


 On the way back from Buffavento cafe to Iskele I rode  against the wind trying to race the setting sun behind me!

Great to ride with Andreas and the rest of the group from Zypernbike who now ride tomorrow from Kyrenia back to southern Cyprus. 

Ich wunche ihre alle eines gutes urlaub und fahr gut nach hause. Viehen danke fur das ride!

Das war spas! :)

The next morning I rode back to Bafra to collect the car. The wind was directly against me all the way, so although it was only 15 miles it was hard work.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bafra to DipKarpaz and back Group ride

Mittag Essen im Dipkarpaz


I enjoy riding alone, but today I was happy to be invited to ride with a group of eighteen road cyclists (and nice people!) from all over Germany. The ride started at 9am from Bafra. Lunch was at Dipkarpaz and we were back mid afternoon.


Video from the 'Pelaton' !

  Given that  I never had a single lesson in German, and I haven't heard it spoken for nearly seven years I was surprised I was able to communicate  in my 'own version' of German all the way around the route. Sure it could be much better but I did ok for a first ride I thought.

 Being so used to riding at my own pace it was a new experience riding at the pace of the group, holding back on the downhills and catching up a bit on the climbs. I may need to ride more over the winter hahaha!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Rest days

English breakfast poolside today!

So what happens here when you don't ride a bicycle here in Northern Cyprus?


Swim in choice of three pools
Wash & service bike
swim in sea
Steam room
Wash cycle kit
Eat again
Plan routes for Garmin

Such is the' burden' of a road cyclist here at Caesar in Northern Cyprus.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Keeping the legs turning in Cycling Heaven !

I had backache, it hurt and I would have been well within my rights as a man to suffer, whinge, whine and moan all day abot it, using it as an excuse not to ride and gain sympathy. However being made of sterner stuff I decided to fight through the 'agony' and hit the road. The recent long climbs in the Troodos mountains would have been another conveniant excuse to slob out by the pool in the sunshine, but I didn't think about that one until I got back. This is cycling paradise, and not even a dodgy back was going to stop me riding it today!

Today I just wanted to ride, I wasn't fussed where, or how fast, all I wanted was to turn my legs and loosen them up after the long rides recently. So I simply turned Rubic into the wind and set sail along the coastal road past Bogaz until I felt like turning left. Left took me inland through familier farmland and villages, until I turned left and rode back in a westerly direction to Turnalar. 


 Here I couldnt resist the right turn up the Mountain to Kantara square. It has become my 'local loop' here and guarantees stunning views along the entire climb. My lower back was locking up. Cyclops had once again failed to send me a fit Mermaid with massage skills last night and as such I was fully within my rights to blame him for everything! The painkillers in my water bottles helped, and I pushed on up the Mountain, void of any sympathy from anywhere. Such is a road cyclists lot, ha ha!

The climb here gets easier each time I do it, but today although my legs were strong my back needed stretching. So I stopped and embarked upon some 'perfectly executed' yoga poses right on the edge of the world. At this point the only car I had seen on the climb passed me. Lord knows what they thought of a 6'4" Lycra clad bloke stretching in the middle of the road on the Mountain. I laughed, as frankly I didn't care! I am not on a bike to stack up KOM awards on Strava, I'm here to enjoy the ride and be happy, I'll leave the macho competitive stuff to Macho competitive types.

 At the top I went to see my friend who runs the Kantara cafe for two cokes in the sunshine. I was his only customer and I coud have sat there all day. Eventually I forced my self back into the saddle and followed the road along the top and sat on a rock, alone on my Favorite Mountain, with views that always amaze me every time I ride this route. Pah!...what's a bit of back pain when you get to ride through here!!


 I had no wish to ride back down yet, all I wanted to do was sit on my rock. Eventually I set off down the otherside, letting go of my brakes and enjoying the exhilerating downhill back to Iskele. 

 Today is Friday and as such market day in Iskele. I rode around the little market square, full of fruit sellers, nut sellers, plant and flower sellers, fish sellers, and the inevitable fluorescent pink fluffy slipper sellers. Thank God the 'Onesy' hasn't been discovered in Iskele yet. The wind on the plain today was fairly strong, at between 10-20mph from the East, South East, South, south west, west, North west, North & North east mostly. Usually I dont even notice the wind, well thats a lie, I do notice it , but I simply accept it. However today being tired, in pain and getting no sympathy from anywhere, I decided I was allowed to curse the wind. This I did very audibly, right out side the Iskele school, much to the amusement of two young escapees from English classes walking to the market. This is a relatively easy loop to ride if you are reasonably bike fit, my advice is don't race it, ride it and enjoy it.