Part of being a cyclist in Cyprus is knowing that it's a great place to ride a bike, and also wishing that more people knew about it and came to experience the amazing scenery, hard climbs, exhilarating descents, quiet villages and smooth roads.
One of the things I had started in 2022 was a shop ride (Tuesdays, 0700 Ride Easy Shop - Feb-Nov!), which was aimed at tourists who wanted a group ride to an iconic tourist location (Aphrodite Rock) and also a focal point for local cyclists who fancied a group ride with coffee at the end.
So, into 2023 and I wanted to expand this even further by offering 'Guided Rides' for tourists who wanted to see a little bit more (or in some cases, a lot more) of the island. On this basis, I got in touch with the bike hire companies saying that I would be available for guiding, outside of my normal working hours. This meant a couple of hours each morning, (early in the summer when it's too hot to ride during the day) and weekends, when I would be available to show people around.
Not being sure how this would go, or even if it would work out - it was just a case of waiting to see.
Roll on the end of the year and I can look back on a successful first real crack at it. I had work come in from the website, the bike hire companies and, best of all, word of mouth - which hopefully means I must be doing something right.
It all started with a morning ride out to one of the villages in March, and ended with a solo ride around the island in December - supporting the client using my lap of the island routes and knowledge.
Every ride was unique. The people I have met have never failed to be interesting, with all ability levels too. From the eager boyfriend (hope they are still together!), to the future World Tour Pro, this was one of my best years on a bike.
I've been to the highest point on the island multiple times, found the sweet spot route for tourists who just have a few hours (Villages and Vineyard route, 3 hrs, 65 km, 1000 m, coffee in a small village), discovered new roads across the island, and seen first-hand people's realisation of just how great Cyprus is for cycling. Hopefully they will come back for more.
The highlights - there are too many to mention them all, but the Agios Therapon Mayor buying myself and my guest coffee for visiting his small village, and the first multi-day solo trip round the island using my routes and ideas (proof that what I have done previously works! - Well done Rita!) stand out.
I also have to mention Al Raha Cycling from Abu Dhabi (a reminder from my previous home!) and the Hong Kong Cycle Tour Association groups for trusting me to look after them on fantastic multi-day tours around the Paphos region and beyond.
No real lowlights, but 'cramp in my arms' certainly stands out as a challenging day on the bike!
Finally, thanks to everyone I met for great days on the bike. Thanks to all my friends who helped out on the group rides when numbers needed it or just joined in with rides to showcase how great and friendly Cyprus cyclists are.
Roll on 2024!