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  • Writer's pictureIan Partridge

2022 Lap of the Island

It seems I started something in 2021 when I took the Happy Cycling group on a lap of the island, they enjoyed it so much that I was asked to repeat it for 2022... and spoiler alert... it looks like 2023 is GO again already, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Cyprus is one of the rare island gems on the planet that has a comprehensive and quiet road structure that enables almost entire circumnavigation without the coast being more than a few hundred metres away and considering we have a UN demilitarized zone, and 2 governments controlling it, this no mean feat.

To ride round, it is more or less 600km and about 5500m of elevation. You can cut the ride into many ways, but I choose to do 2 stops in the North and then 2 stops in the South on a route that gets progressively easier, which is always a nice thing when fatigue is starting to set in.

Day 1 - Paphos (South) to Kyrenia (North) - 160km, 2200m elevation

The longest day, crosses one border point and includes 2 big climbs and then a nasty sting in the tail as we cross over the Northern ridge and push up the coast to Kyrenia.

What is already a challenging day was hampered by a double mechanical, broken Di2 Rear Derailleur and then shortly after a chain breakage. Luckily I was able to fix both on the roadside (Rear derailleur replacement sourced from a local rider living close to the route - I promised I would return the derailleur once we finished!)

The route allows us to follow the Eastern coast of Cyprus up to the Border with the North where we have to run inland a little before the run up the Northern Coast. It's a lovely ride, you are challenged by the terrain and it is usually pretty quiet traffic wise - you only really notice the difference between North and South in the amount of old battered Renaults in the North (did the French just send everything here!!) and the change from Greek to Turkish road signs.

Day 2 - Kyrenia - Dipkarpaz - 130km, 1200m elevation.

A day of decreasing traffic and increasing isolation as we ride up the North coast through busy Kyrenia and its increasingly sprawling suburbs towards the isolated village of Dipkarpaz, and what is surely one of the nicest nights' accommodation on the whole Island.

The biggest challenge today is handling the unrelenting coast road, we have 1 left turn at about 50km but other than that its just follow the one road, sea on your left, mountains and scrub on your right.

Luckily no mechanicals today, just one rider who wasn't feeling too well, but luckily the support car is on-hand and bike and rider loaded in for the trip to the night's stop.

Day 3 - Dipkarpaz - Ayia Napa (South) - 120km, 800m elevation

A feeling of riding downhill! After leaving Dipkarpaz we ride across the pan handle of Northern Cyprus and onto the fast coastal road to Famagusta and the border crossing back into the South.

It's always interesting riding through Famagusta and the UN no go zone, really up close and personal with history.

Once through the border it's into Tourist Cyprus and the urban ride through to Ayia Napa, a normally uneventful ride. However this year we had our 3rd and most serious mechanical with a crank arm snapping and the rider being thrown off the bike and onto the floor. A trip to the medical centre and 16 stitches later, and all is good.

A little bit of luxury awaits in Ayia Napa with a nice Hotel and Spa booked for the evening!

Day 4 - Ayia Napa - Limassol - 110km, 400m elevation

Traditionally a fast day, with the morning wind pushing us down to Limassol, via Larnaca, where it is nice to ride through the castle area and along the boardwalk for coffee.

From Larnaca south it's again all coastal. Wind on your backs and 40kmh average speeds for really very little effort - champagne cycling!! No mechanicals or upsets today made the day even sweeter.

Staying in Limassol, close to the old town for a final night's meal in historic surroundings.

Day 5 - Limassol - Paphos - 85km, 800m elevation

Homeward bound, a short but quite challenging ride back to Paphos. Lots of short climbs to sting the legs, some Hike-A-Bike on the maybe never to be opened road from Pissouri (it seems the roadworks haven't progressed from last year!) before the final coffee stop in Kouklia, where a well earned Bacon sandwich is enjoyed.

From Kouklia it's a short 1hr ride back to the start point and some well earned liquid refreshments.

Well done to all riders this year - eventful and challenging as ever, and a real achievement of riding round Cyprus; experiencing the North and South, and everything that this beautiful Island has to offer.

All routes are available on my Strava page.

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