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.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Exit Troodos


The Garmin switched off in Larnaca so I re started it. Hence two Garmin files for one ride today. Although posted 6/11/2014 this ride was ridden from Troodos Square to Caesar resort Iskele on 5/11/2014.

The totals are as follows: 173.4km = 107mi 1312.5yd 1412m climb 6.63 hours moving time

Sunrise from my Hotel room in Troodos Square 

Waking up to the Sunrise over Troodos was pretty special. Yeterdays ride up Mount Olympus was still fresh in my mind & I wanted to make todays ride as memorable. I had origionally planned to ride back down the Mountain via Guzelert to Girne/Kyrenia, but overnight I changed the plan and re programme my Garmin with a more adventurous route. I wanted to spend as much time in the Troodos mountains as possible and still ride back to Iskele Northern Cyprus in one day. As such my new route would take me through the Mountains down towards Larnaca on the coast, then across the border and past Famagusta. It was an ambitious plan, given there would still be a lot of climbing in the Troodos mountains, but never the less I was in no doubt I could do it in a single day.

I managed to cram an Ungodly amount of food into my belly at breakfast in the Hotel in Troodos Square. Food is my petrol after all. Setting off I managed to get all of 200m before the cobblestone road through Troodos Square shook the bike so much my Garmin fell and switched itself off. Hence resetting the start point to the right turn at the bottom of Troodos Square, the junction I had turned left at yesterday to cycle to the summit of Mount Olympus.

I was descending immediatly and the views were coming thick and fast. Although I was having a blast flying down the Mountain on good road surfaces, I didn't want to miss a thing. I found myself hoping the descent wouldn't go on too long and be over too quickly. I wasn't dissappointed. Although the general route profile is down all the way to the coast, there are still many sections of this route that will put a riders climbing skills to the test. 

I rode through small villages where life is a million light years in the right direction away from modern day city life. Here the few people around are in no rush, going about their day, eventually.

Navigating here requires a rider to have their wits about them. Even with a Garmin it is easy to miss a turn, or mislead by one of Cyclops' evil road signs tricks. Flying down a loooooong downhill section in bright sunshine, it is almost impossible to see the small Garmin edge 800 screen. You need to keep both eyes on the road surface, the bends and still take in the amazing scenery. I have learned to check my Garmin ahead of the descents for any upcoming turns. I find this easier than making a sudden right or left turn at 40mph and flying off the Mountain side in a less than dignified manner.

Fly past this junction at your peril!

Missing a right turn at speed was exactly what I then did. My Garmin edge 800 blasted off course warnings at me, and eventually I decided to listen to them. I found myself climbing back up the Mountain I had just ridden down. However I found myself enjoying it as the scenery was so good.

Beautiful Autumn colours in the Troodos Mountains

I am not a natural climber, I am tall and heavy. But I adopt a 'just get on with it' attitude and get up the climbs in my own good time. Short sharp inclines are painful at times therefore. Having just ridden through some wonderful little villages I followed God Garmins advice and was instantly faced with these switchbacks of immense doom and excessive pain. Looking up at at them I took a sharp intake of breath, swore at cyclops and attacked. 



Here the switchbacks pass right by a small dam with its depleted lake behind it. The initial two are very steep, and I was out of the saddle in my lowest gear immediatly. I told myself they couldn't last much longer, and would level off around the next bend. Cylops as usual had other plans. 


What school is like in the Troodos

This was simply the start of a thigh splitting climb up the valley here. Apparently there was a village at the top God Garmin was telling me. I spent the climb telling God Garmin to move the bloody thing nearer. 

Looking behind me when I could, the view stretched right out of the Troodos, across the Plain below and over to the Kyrenia mountains and the sea on the far horizon to the North, where two days ago I had ridden through.


At the top of this climb I took a well earned break. Here I could see across to the southern coast below. I told myself I would be on the beach in an hour. Optimisim is a good thing. However the remaining hills between me and the coast told me I needed to get real for once and I resigned myself to a lot more climbing to come.

Cyclops however had provided some of the longest downhill sections I have ever ridden. These were my reward for all the climbing I did yesterday, and this morning. I let the brakes go and sat down on my top tube in true Vuelta hero style. Immediatly the bike shook and I felt close to somersaulting over my handlebars. The need for speed exited my mind in a split second as life preservation instinct took over. This was no time for posing, besides I was the only one here for miles.

Arse firmly glues to my saddle I found myself finally riding through the lower slopes as I exited the Troodos and joined the Larnaca district. At altitude it had been very cold, but the temperature had been increasing all morning as I decsended. Here I was riding in warm summer sunshine.

The Monastry on the descent to Larnaca

Onwards I pushed, I was aware that sunset here comes quickly, and I still had a long ride ahead of me. I wanted to get through Larnaca as quickly and as painlessly as it is possible to get through a big town on a bicycle.

Outside Larnaca I pulled into a Petrolina gas station and immediatly got recognized by the guy serving there. We had met in April this year and he was still deciding which bike to buy. Apparently he had been so inspired my my ride in April that he dragged his girlfriend on a Mountain bike ride from Larnaca to Limassol after wards. I got the impression she and he were no more as a result.

I put my faith in the route I had told my Garmin edge 800 to take me and followed the line on the screen right through Larnaca. The traffic here is heavy, and not cyclist aware. Cycling in Larnaca town centre is not that pleasant, there are potholes and accidents waiting to happen everywhere. I was in and out of there in 20 minutes.  Here my Garmin once again stopped. This curtailed the route recording so far and I had to start it again, hence there are two route files for todays ride.

Sunset behind me as I ride out of Larnaca past the Airport

By now I could feel the sun more on the back of my neck and my shadow was getting forever longer in front of me. Sunset was approaching fast. I had been riding all day, and I still had to get across the border back into northern Cyprus, and past Famagusta, a ride of some additional 38 miles.

I clipped on my tiny knog 'Frog' lights and pushed onwards. All along the roadside were brightly lit cafes, with men playing board games. Gradually these disappeard, as I approached the Border. It would appear not many wish to live right next to the border here. 

It was dark as I handed my passport in for inspection at the border post. The usual chaos here prevailed, as cars from both sides que jumped and negotiated safe passage to their respective 'other sides'. I stopped for a coke in the shops here before pushing onwards as fast as I could. Please note that to cross this border you need a FULL passport. An EU indentity card is not sufficiant.

Riding in the dark is fun, it was a cool summers evening, and the insects were hitting my helmet as I rode.
Finally I was at Salamis. Turning left I was on the home stretch along the coast road to Long Beach and Caesar resort where I headed straight to the Restaurant for Chicken and Mushroom pasta!

This was one hell of a ride!