Cycle Cyprus Challenge – Day 1

  Kyrenia to Karpaz Peninsula

We joined the team for the first leg of their epic journey around Cyprus

 A team of cyclists got together and decided to tackle the gruelling task of cycling all the way around Cyprus.  These guys and gals are currently doing their tour of duty at Ledra Palace with the UN and wanted to boost the funds of ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity with as much money as they could raise from sponsorship.  Their aim was originally £2,500 but it seems that by the end of the challenge it could be a lot more.

The challenge was arranged to start at Escape Beach Club at 06.00 on Wednesday 5th September and finish at the same place on Sunday 9th September.   There were 10 cyclists starting off and they were to be joined by another colleague on Day 2.   They were accompanied by a UN pick-up with their luggage for their overnight accommodation and some refreshments and a UN mini-bus had gone on ahead with boxes of food to await their arrival at the Karpaz.

Day 1.  My partner, Chris Elliott, rose early to be there for the start and followed them through Karaoğlanoğlu, on to Karakum, and along the main road to Çatalkőy, he then collected me a couple of hours later so that we could follow them the rest of the way on the first leg of their challenge to the Karpaz.   We caught up with them on the road to Kaplica and couldn’t believe how much ground they had covered, but still a long way to go.  Further along this stretch they stopped for a break, we had carried on and were waiting outside a village called Balalan, there we met some road workers one of which was from Turkey so we had some sort of conversation with a lot of hand and arm waving.  Then along came an English lady who told us that she and her husband have lived in the village for 11 years and are the only English people there, she went off to her home and later returned to wait for the cyclists, so at this point they had a few well-wishers to spur them on.  This point was a downward hill which was preceded by a very long upward hill so when they came into sight they whizzed down the hill to shouts of encouragement.

We were noticing all of the gruelling long gradients and this made us even more aware of the immense task these cyclists had taken on.   We stopped again along the way to have a coffee at the Karpaz Gate Marina and then caught up with them again a bit later.   We started nearing the Karpaz and I had forgotten how long and bumpy the final stretch is.   We finally arrived at Big Sand Bungalows where they were to be staying overnight and met up with the 2 soldiers who had driven the mini bus there, this was Lance Corporal Paddy Patterson from Belfast. He  has enlisted for 22 years and is a chef,  he has so far completed 6½ years, and Private Matthew (Albert) Hall from Wigan who has completed 10 years, he has served in many places worldwide including 2 tours in Afghanistan.  Albert told us that unfortunately next year his unit is to be disbanded so this could possibly be the end of his military career.

We suddenly noticed the cyclists whizzing past and called out to them, but on they went and we realised they were going to the very end of the Karpaz.  Eventually they returned, very tired but all looking so happy and a little sunburned after 8 hours of cycling.  I spoke with Elysia Ridley, one of the organisers of the Challenge,  and she told me they had covered 154 kilometres on the first leg of their epic journey.   The total which has been raised now stands at £2,100 so they are well on the way to achieving their goal, and more.

All of the team were thirsty and hungry and tucked into the food which was waiting them from the UN mini bus, there was a lot of stretching and massaging, some of the team raced down to the sea for a swim, then went to their accommodation to shower and tidy themselves up in readiness for their evening meal and an early night.

After chatting with various members of the team, we said our farewells after which had been a hot, tiring but extremely enjoyable day following the Cycle Cyprus Challenge.

We will be receiving daily reports of the team’s progress so look out for Day 2 which will be published shortly.

For anyone wishing to make a donation to this worthy cause visit www.justgiving.com/Elysia-Ridley   

You can also view their fundraising webpage on www.justgiving.com/teams/cyprusriders

 By Margaret Sheard

 

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