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!

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