Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ride eight ( mount olympus)

Being woken by the church bells in the square made a nice change from my alarm was a big day and it had already started well.

I cooked breakfast and ate it in the beautiful courtyard here, checked all was well with Celeste and got my kit minimised in readiness for my epic ascent of the highest mountain on Cyprus, mount olympus.
I had slept well, this place is an oasis of peace right in the heart of limassol.
I hit the road at 7am and followed the Garmin out of town. The climb started immediately I left the town, and I was instantly down on the lowest gear. This did not bode well for the ascents to come. But I uttered the imortal cyclists motto, 'bollox to it I'm gonna do it anyway', and got into my stride, convinced there was no way I was going to fail.

It was chilly and the Cypriot headwind did not let me down.
The climb is divided into three sections each of about 13 miles. First are the gradiants out of limmasol, then the foot hills to get to the start of the real climb up to Troodos and the summit of mount olympus. Dividing the climb like this helped me win this mental battle with the mountain.
Celeste was riding well, and it was great not having a rucksack. I took just some money, phone, base layer and arm warmers for the descent, and some energy gels.

It wasn't long before the only way up the hills was standing up in.the saddle. Not having a triple or a compact crankset was painful, but I had decided I would make the climb so it was a certainty now a few hours I would stand on top.of the mountain, I just needed to keep going, no matter what. Simples.
The wind and the steep slopes were tough, very tough. This is a tough ride for pro riders so I kept telling.myself I was doing well for an old goat!

After about 13 miles I stopped and rested while drinking an energy drink and watching a group of overweight American tourists stuff as much food in themselves as possible before their coach left. Why do some people need to say 'like' after every other word?? I mean like it sound like so stooopid like really like you can't like speak like English like and like that's soo like uncool like! The coach sighed in agony as they wobbled aboard and I said a prayer for it as it struggled up the 11% hill.

The next section of the climb was a series of ups and downs as I rode through the foothills to get to the start of the real climb. These were frustrating as I knew I reclimb each hill again and again. The vegetation was changing, much greener and more trees. Along the roadside there were locals selling oranges and nuts of all kinds. The road surface was good and the traffic light and cyclist aware.

I was sufferring on the long steep climbs. One 11% section went on for several miles straight up. I am not ashamed to admit that I walked for a mile or so to save my.hips and knees from certain destruction.

It was getting colder and my ears were popping with the increasing altitude. The mountain proper was looming. The climbs increased and as the third section of the climb began the inevitable steep switchbacks began. Some of these were merciless. The views were getting better but the summit looked cloudy.
Even with zig zagging across the rode it was impossible to ride up some sections on the unsuitable groupset on my bike. Spinning was not an option.

Slowly but surely I ground my way up every foot of that climb, all the time focusing only on a mental image of me at the summit, and battling a mega attack of hic cups caused by drinking as I was riding. Hic up that hill fat boy !

Finally the bus load of oversized American tourists caught me up and some waved as it spluttered in agony past me. I've never felt sorry for a bus before but this one was dieing an agonizing death on this beautiful mountain.

Please don't get me wrong, I love American people, who have always been amazing people in my experience. This group on the mountain did amuse me however.   Finally I reached Troodos. It must have been a wonderful place before the tourist shops and souvenir sellers finally conquered the mountain. The Americans bus was relieved they had though, as it deposited its loud and wobbly load and took a life saving rest. Here I shared a coke with an Israeli cyclist called oode or something similar. He was warming up for a race up this climb tomorrow!!!! Suddenly I felt like a wimp!

I pressed on the final 2km to the summit of mount olympus. The actual summit is a military base and two soldiers firmly persuaded me that photography here was likely to land me in the foriegn legion. So I yelled "I'm the king of the world!" as I do at the top of any significant climb, and took photos anyway while they were talking on radios to more important soldiers.

                                                            I'm the King of the world!

The views were limited as the clouds had set in. It was cold and I put my base layer and arm warmers on ready for the sprint back to limassol.
I stopped again briefly in Troodos square, where a Norwegian girl asked if I had climbed all the way up. When I said I had I got a high five and a kiss!

The ride down was totally exhilerating. I felt so alive, and totally in the moment. It's like a rollercoaster with no ups...just lightening fast, and more fun than I can describe!!
You have to be totally alert for potholes and sharp bends. My brakes took a real pounding, but mostly I just left them open and let it roll!!

I'm back in this lovely house here in limassols old town now resting after a really special and exciting ride. Time for a shower and a walk around the old town of limassol to find FOOD!!
Food was easily found. A local kebab house was suggested to me by Paris and it was so good I had two chicken souvlaki kebabs! Then it was time to walk around the old market and sit on the rocks next to the sea just soaking up the evening.

On checking Celeste I found a broken rear drive side spoke. I can't do a distance ride safely until it is fixed. Tomorrow is Sunday, so I have decided to stay here another night and try to find the bike shop on Monday morning. It's safer that way and I get an extra day here, and hang out on the beach and explore more.

 65.6 miles total ascent 2398 metres Top speed 46.8mph
Thankyou Cyclops!

Celeste in the foothills before getting to Mount Olympus in the background

a typical 11% gradiant 

Looking back across the foothills to the coast where I had just come from as I start the climb proper up Mount Olyimpus

The gradiant nearing the top at Troodos

Up Up and more bloody Up!

Getting nearer the top

Troodos Square
Just 2km to go to the top of mount Olyimpus

The Russian guy who took this told me the tree was some kind of special Cypriot pine

The clouds were shutting down and the views were blocked mostly

Up in the clouds with just 2km to go

approacjing the top

reaching the tree line

view from the summit of mount olympus

I'm the king of the world!

The Military base on the summit

Celeste and me resting at the top Job done!

Garmin ascent stats

Garmin high level route view

Cycling in the clouds

Looking down on Troodos

Celeste on top of the world!

Some bloke (without a goat) on a bicycle on a Mountain!

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