Tour de Cyprus – Day One

I’m in Cyprus for a week, visiting my friend Bob who’s retired out here & in between all the eating, drinking & sunbathing, I’ve planned a couple of days out on the bike with my cycling buddy Sean. We woke up to cloudless, blue skies & the temperature was predicted to reach a high of 25 degrees centigrade.

Bob gave us lift from his home in Peyia to Paphos (a journey of about 10 miles), where we picked up our pre-booked bikes from Ride Easy – lots a great reviews from previous happy customers. We’ve splashed out 35 Euros a day to each ride a Cannondale SuperSix Evo Disc on 35mm carbon wheels – the guys at Ride Easy got us sorted in next to no time & we were on the road for a day of exploring the Troodos mountains by about 9.45am.

Within 10 minutes of setting off, I had a rear wheel p*nct*re, where a cactus thorn pierced the tyre. It only took about 15 minutes to find & remove the offending thorn from the tyre, replace the inner tube & pump it up with a small hand pump & get on our way.

We left Paphos by the pan-flat main airport road, skirting around Acheleia, passing through Timi & then taking a left turn just past Mandria, onto the quieter & smaller F617, which would ultimately take you to Mount Olympus – the highest peak in the Troodos Mountains at just over 6,500 feet above sea level. This was where the ride began in earnest, as we also started climbing into the foothills of the Troodos mountains.

Over the next 6.5 miles we steadily climbed 1,000 feet up to Choletra. The views ahead showed ever bigger hills, as they turned into mountains & every now & then we got a view of the Mediterranean behind us. We took a left turn onto a small back lane– we dropped 700 feet in quick order, crossing the river Xeropotamus (it was dry) at the bottom & then climbing up to Nata, where we joined the F622.

The climb was a little over 1,100 feet, at a fairly consistent 7%, so it felt like a short alpine ascent. We reached the summit at Axylou & then picked up a very small back lane, as we swooped back down to the valley below. We were surrounded by orchards of oranges, banana plantations (where all the crops were shrouded in blue plastic bags to speed up the ripening process & protect the fruit from insects) & small arcades of pomegranate trees.

As we reached Choulou we joined the E702, turning left & heading up the next climb. This one was 1,200 feet at a steady 6%, taking us through the small villages of Kourdaka & Letymvou, before topping out at the slightly bigger village of Tsada, where we’d arranged to meet Bob for lunch. The Nassau Café Bistro is a run by Chris & Sonia & has great views down to the Mediterranean, in the far distance. It was a great place to relax & recover from the morning’s exertions – we were about 37 miles into the planned 65 mile route. We both saw off an omelette in short order & were back on our way after a ½ hour break.

We joined the main Route B7 towards Polis & were rewarded with a fast descent towards Stroumpi, where we turned onto the F703, climbing through the small villages of Polemi & Lasa, where big views opened up of the Evretou Dam.

We briefly re-joined the B7, before taking a left turn onto a small road for what would be a 5 mile, 1,600 foot climb up to Kathikas, Along the way, we passed through the villages of Kato Akourdaleia & Pano Akourdaleia. It was a beautiful ascent through forest, with plenty of shade to protect us. There were a couple of 15% stretches, which tested the legs, especially as we were over 50 miles into the ride. It took us a little over an hour to complete the climb into Kathikas.

All that remained was for us to swoop down the twists & turns of the wide (but empty) F709 into Peyia, admiring the sun as it set into the Mediterranean, some 2,000 feet below us. I topped out at 43mph on the 7 mile descent, stopping a couple of times to enjoy the huge views along the coast. We took the 2nd Peyia turn-off & within ½ mile we were back at Bob’s villa.

Our adventure through the Troodos mountains involved 7,700 feet of climbing during our 65 mile ride – we’d had the perfect introduction to the best cycling that Cyprus has to offer. I can’t wait for tomorrow, when we have a trip to the coast planned!!!

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