The ultimate dream of a passionate racing cyclist? Endless mountain passes! Preferably in a dreamlike Mediterranean landscape on a lonely island without traffic! Unfortunately, this does not exist, at least not one hundred percent. But Cyprus comes very close to it. For the fourth year in a row, the training camp on Cyprus is now waiting in 2020. For all those who are looking for a location for their cycling holiday, I would like to introduce Cyprus here.
Cyprus still ranks among the insider tips for ambitious cyclists. The most famous island for cycling is probably Mallorca. Especially in spring, numerous cyclists cavort there to collect kilometres. Those who want to have more mountain training often fly to Gran Canaria. Sometimes, there is more bike traffic on these two islands than in big cities during the rush hour. Cyprus on the other hand offers a feeling of exclusivity. Although there are a few professional teams and hobby cyclists on the road there, there are far fewer of them. What’s more, Cyprus is vast. On Gran Canaria one or the other makes a round trip around the island. On Cyprus this is hardly possible. Not only because Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, but also because the northern part has been occupied by Turkey since 1974 and a border separates the southern and northern part. The Turkish northern part does not recognise the government of the Greek south – the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2004 Cyprus has been part of the European Union. However, no state in the world, except Turkey itself, recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a state.
Cyprus is a former crown colony of Great Britain. Even today, left-hand traffic still prevails. Cyprus is less known for cycling. The north-eastern part is quite flat. There is fertile soil and agriculture. Most of it is Turkish occupied territory. On the west and south coasts, between the cities of Paphos and Larnaca, there is a motorway and next to it an expressway with much less traffic, which is popular with cyclists. Triathletes in particular are to be found there more often, since the altitude difference is limited and can be trained well with time bikes. The southeastern part is relatively flat and suitable for beginners. But the highlight are the numerous roads that lead into the Greek interior. About one fifth of Cyprus is covered with forest. The Troodos mountains are in the centre of the island and the highest mountain Olympos reaches 1952 metres. Besides road bikes, there is also the possibility to explore the island by mountain bike. Numerous trails and paths offer all variations for beginners and professionals.
How it all began
It was supposed to be a last minute vacation. Actually, a racing bike holiday in the Spanish countryside at the end of April 2016 was planned. However, at that time there was a low pressure influence over the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands. And a weather forecaster does not fly to where it rains. From the eastern Mediterranean Sea I had no idea where the best place to ride a racing bike was. I knew Crete, but the roads and paths there, I would rather ride with a MTB. A Swiss friend recommended Cyprus to us. He was there regularly and also knew the owner of a local bike rental company Bike Cyprus: Thomas Wegmüller – a former professional cyclist. We received one of the last last minute offers and logged Cyprus as our destination. One of the most beautiful vacations ever awaited us!
In general, the weather in Cyprus is stable. For the local agriculture low rainfall can be a problem if there is no irrigation. For us cyclists this is of course a good thing. In the mountainous part you are alone for a long time and often without car traffic. You should always have something to eat, like bars or gels with you, because there are no supermarkets or coffees like sand at the sea. Water has never been a problem, as the Cypriots are incredibly friendly and helpful. You can always ask for water and to fill your bike bottles. The coffee culture consists – as in many Mediterranean countries – of ordinary Nescafe or local Cyprus coffee. Schnapps lovers should definitely try Zivania. Pomace spirit is only available in Cyprus. The southwest coast is a good starting point for mountain training. From there you can start without a long detour into the interior of the country. The climbs are often steep and you make roughly 1000 meters of altitude difference over 30 kilometers. The quality of the roads is very different. Some are newly tarred. Others have frequent potholes. On the southwest coast, the rocks of Aphrodite (Aphrodite’s Rock) are found in the sea. The beautiful rock formation in the sea is considered the birthplace of the love goddess Aphrodite from Greek mythology and is worth a visit.
I am looking forward to this year’s trainingcamp there and will of course report. Cyprus is an absolute must for every cyclist and belongs to every bucket list.