Tour de Cyprus – Day Two

The Baths of Aphrodite & Chrysochou Bay

Day Two began under blue skies & temperatures of 25 centigrade, with a light breeze – almost perfect cycling conditions, although the wind was forecast to pick up later in the day. Today’s ride started from Bob’s villa & we were on our way by 9am, heading for a day of exploration around the North coast of the island.

We joined the E709 for the 7 mile ascent to Kathikas & almost immediately had huge views out over Coral Bay & on towards Paphos, 100’s of feet below us. As we climbed, the gradient was a fairly consistent 7% – 9% (with one short, steep ramp), resulting in a 1,600 foot gain over the 7 miles. We had a bit of assistance most of the way up, as a tailwind helped us!

As we crested the climb at Kathikas, we found new tarmac, as we joined the E711. This took us along a ridge for a mile or so, before a swooping 10 mile descent into Polis. The road was fast & smooth, with corners that rarely required any braking, as huge views opened up to the coastline 2,000 feet below.

The descent ended as we skirted the edge of Polis & took a left on the E713, passing through Latsi on the way to the Baths of Aphrodite. We followed the coast, occasionally getting views of the turquoise sea just off to our right.

After stopping for a few photos, we turned back on ourselves & headed for the harbour in Latsi, where we’d arranged to meet Bob. After a brief stop for cappuccino & ice cream we were on our way again.

We crossed Polis & picked up the E704 coastal road towards Pomos. As we left town, we were able to join the cycle path, with the sea on our left. The wind was beginning to pick up & we were riding straight into a strong headwind. The views out to sea on our left & up to the Troodos mountains on the right took our minds off the tough conditions. We also passed a couple of small exercise spots, one of them having a static bike which I stopped at for a photo op.

As we reached Agia Marina, we turned around, picking up a proper tailwind back towards Polis. After a couple of miles, we were overtaken by a solo police motorcyclist who appeared to be indicating for us to slow down, but we weren’t too sure – he carried on past us, so we thought no more of it.

A few minutes later another police outrider went past me & was gesticulating for us to pull off the road – I looked behind me & in the distance I could see a convoy of 10 or 15 dark, SUVs heading my way, followed by an ambulance & more police outriders. After a bit of Googling this evening, the Presidents of Cyprus & Georgia met at the Presidential Palace & that was who was in the cavalcade that breezed past us!

We stopped on Polis for a quick lunch, before navigating across town again & embarking on the ascent back up to Kathikas – 2,000 feet of climbing in 10 miles, so it felt like a proper alpine ascent in approaching 30 centigrade conditions! The gradient was consistent throughout, so it was a case of getting into a steady rhythm & then keeping the pedals turning for the next 75 minutes. There were occasional views down towards Chrysochou Bay, which helped keep my mind off the big climb!

I’m out of practice on big, long climbs, so this was more challenging & tiring than I would have expected, but it was also good to test my mental resolve, as well as my physical fitness in such beautiful surroundings. As we reached the summit of the climb, we found out just how much the wind had picked up since the morning.

As we bounced along the ridge, we were taking a real buffeting – never dangerous, but enough to keep us focussed on keeping the bikes pointing in the right direction. Reaching Kathikas, we re-joined the E709 for the descent back into Peyia – this was the same descent we’d done on yesterday’s ride & we’d also climbed it first thing this morning.

This final 7 miles was over in almost no time – as yesterday, we stopped a couple of times to take in the big views towards Paphos in one direction & Lara Beach in the other. It was another cracking day out exploring the beautiful scenery of Cyprus.

We covered 58 miles, climbing almost 5,000 feet in the process. Unlike my normal cycling adventures, we only had 2 days of cycling on this trip, but I know I’ll be taking Bob up on his offer to visit again soon.

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!!!