Hence I ended up missing the turning and riding through the little village, finally taking the right turn north towards the mountains. Huh, what do I need Garmin for' I arrogantly thought to myself. The answer came immediatley - to stop me riding up an unsurfaced muddy goat track risking Rubics fragile disposition on a track not even tractors venture out on. I had no choice but to ride out of the saddle over rocks , sticks, potholes, loose sand and dead cyclists who never made it off this track.
Eventually I reached the highway and said a few words of thanks to Cyclops for keeping the puncture fairy away. Taking the left turn towards Mallidag I found myself cruising along a perfect rolling road hugging the lower countours of the foothills here.
Here I turned on the Garmin. The surface here is medium rough asphalt, a little shakey on the bike but perfecty rideable on my 700x 23 tyres. Reaching the village of Tirmen the climb proper started. Here the road intially passes through some very run down, tatty villages with thier less than pedigree dog populations, but thankfully I was through there in 5 minutes and climbing up the switchbacks behind the village. Immmediatly the views improved. Here they are very good,but nothing compared to what was to come.
I took a breather at the top near the Antifonidis Monastry, an old Church dating back to when men were monks and goats were very afraid. Taking the Esentepe roller coaster ride down again the road surface was causing Rubic to vibrate badly and limiting my speed. Here the name of the game is to reach the bottom of the Mountain with all your teeth firmly still in place. Just outside Esentepe I checked my teeth and took the first left near the school towards Alevkayasi. Having crossed the mountains once, I was once again climbing to get back up them.
The road here is a single lane asphalt road, of better quality, but not totally smoothe yet. Gradually the road surface improoved as I climbed, and the views just got better and better. Everything up here is green, the trees, bushes, and even some grass in places! Now that may sound like no big deal if you are from England, but trust me, if you spend enough time down on the Messaroria plain here, seeing natural green grass is a BIG deal!
I was in my stride, finding the climbs so far relativley pain free, I suspect because my mind was constanty distracted from the gradiants by the stunning scenery. It was the perfect temperature to ride this route, sunny, warm but not over hot and cool in the shadows of the big green trees.
I was passed by a white van driven by three young lads. The back of the van was full of painting equipment and ladders etc. One of them gave me a thumbs up as it passed me. I was standing out of the saddle so just nodded a reply. Ten minutes later I caught them up. One of them shouted at me 'drink Mr drink Mr'. I was invited to Tea, freshly made on the back of the van, and had my water bottles filled up for me with ice cold water! They were interested in my bike, where I lived, where I had ridden, how fast I could ride. I was interested in what they were painting on the nearby rocks. Three names, thiers. I was asked my name, and was duely immortalized on the rock face at the top of this section of the climb! Let it be known that from now on this is where I finally 'went round the bend!'
This is typical of the kindess and genorousity of local people here in Northern Cyprus. They are interested in road cyclists, and unlike in England, the drivers here see us as friends, not enemies. I chatted for twently minutes or so, we exchanged e mail addresses and took photographs of our epic meeting on the Mountain today! Cheers for the Tea guys!
The views were getting better and better, I was finding it hard to keep riding because all I wanted to do was soak it all up. Around every bend I was presented with some of the most beautiful riding I have seen anywhere in the world. This ride rates a definate A star plus on the view scale! If you ride this route, forget about your starva stats and take it easy, it is truely beautiful and without doubt one of the best rides you will find anywhere in the world. Ride slow and stop lots for pictures, strava can wait!
I rolled up to the Alevkayasi cafe (follow the sign to the Kyrenai mountains tourist centre). The lady who runs it was very friendly, a Londoner who had been living on Cyprus for ten years, two of which had been spent running this cafe. It is the perfect 'lunch stop' if you are riding this route. I was told I looked 11 years younger than my true age and decided I could live with that ha ha! Lunch was a kofte kebab in pitta bread with lots of trimmings, homous, Tzatsiki, cous cous and two cokes. Much as I could have lived in this place for the rest of my life, it was time to start peddaling again.
The road surface on this down hill stretch is perfect, very smoothe with the advantage of being totally traffic free. Cyclops was definatly in a good mood today!
The road here runs all the way along to the Buffavento Cafe. Here I decided to forgo the descent to Kyrenia, as I have ridden that way many times. Instead it was time to ride up to Buffavento castle itself, some additional 6km along a rough asphalt, but very rideable single lane road.
This part of the climb is fun, it's got great views across Nicossia and to the Troodos Mountains behind it. In the car park at the foot of the Castle cliff face I guy in a camper van took a few pictures of me and my bike. Must be this lycra stuff, has a funny effect on the locals I reckoned! The sun was getting low in the sky, and it was time to head back. Unlike on all of my other rides today I had the luxury of a lift back in a car courtesy of my Dad!
It felt good not to have to ride back against the clock trying to out run the setting sun.
This was a wonderful ride. Perfect in every aspect. The views are beyond stunning, the road is perfect, the entire route was tailor made for a road cyclist. This is what cycling is about, I felt amazing all the time I was riding it and I can't wait to do it again.. I may not be the fastest rider to have ridden this route, but I am certain no rider ever felt as exhilerated as I did out there today on my Bike!