Introduction by Margaret Sheard ….
We have been aware of the tremendous effort all of the Poppy Ride 2017 cyclists have put in during the year and at last the time arrived for their feat of tackling the challenge of cycling from Girne to the top of Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountain range and then back to Lapta. Congratulations for their achievement which is in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
We recently noted an article in the RBL Kyrenia Branch October newsletter about the Poppy Ride by Martin Derbyshire, who organised the challenge as well as participating in it, and asked if we could share this with our worldwide readers and the review is shown below with some great photographs.
By Martin Derbyshire …..
Most readers will be aware of the Poppy Riders and the cycle around Cyprus last year. Many will know that the intrepid cyclists have been in training since January for this year’s challenge, which was to cycle from Kyrenia/Girne up to the top of Mount Olympus in the Troodos mountain range, before returning to Lapta, all in two and a half days.
On Thursday 21st September, 16 riders departed from The George Cafe in Girne town centre, after a ceremonial cutting of a ribbon by the Mayor of Girne to start the event. Riding along the road towards Karşiyaka, groups of well-wishers lined the road before the first climb up past the dam and away to the mountains in the distance. After a lunch, laid on by some residents of Bostancı, the climb started as the cyclists reached the beautiful village of Kakopetria, in the foothills of the Troodos mountains by teatime.
The day was particularly difficult due to a seasonally unusual spike in the heat which saw temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 85km and over 3,500’ of ascent for the day were clocked up.
Day Two, and it is true to say that all riders were very circumspect about the challenge ahead, which took everyone into unchartered territory as far as climbing on a bicycle is concerned.
Nevertheless, after four hours of continual ascent, totalling almost 4,500’ over 21km all 16 cyclists succeeded in arriving safe and sound at the summit of Mount Olympus ‘The Roof of Cyprus’.
Many were quite emotional after a massive effort, not just on the current ride, but during almost 100 training rides, many up steep hills in the sweltering heat of the Cyprus summer. The group were met at the summit by a representative of the British Army unit that is currently guarding the various compounds in Troodos, giving special permission to access the actual summit itself.
A swift descent was staggered to avoid over-heating brakes and potential catastrophe. This gave a chance to admire the stunning scenery (as you can see by the photo below), something that was not really possible on the way up! All that hard work was gone in 45 minutes, but my goodness it was fun!
The final day saw the group return to Lapta, with some stiff legs in the morning being helped by an initial descent of 25km to the Bostancı border crossing. The all-too-familiar route from Güzelyurt back to Lapta followed, with the riders actually arriving in the area early allowing for a much appreciated beer and re-grouping, albeit including a final unscheduled climb to The Montenegro ‘C’ Bar!
The final act saw the riders arriving at The Olive Press Bowling Club at exactly 2.00pm to a fantastic reception from over 100 supporters. A welcome home speech was made by the Branch President, Sir Michael Graydon, and replied to by the Chairman. A fantastic BBQ and music followed with many photographs taken to mark the achievement.
As the ride organiser and participant in the challenge, I would like to mention the incredible support of the families of the riders who have put up with the constant demands on time and money to complete the training and the ride itself. In particular I would like to thank the support team on the actual ride, who provided water, food and bike repair equipment. Moreover, their constant encouragement was a joyous thing to behold for us riders. Additional thanks go to all the private sponsors who subsidised the event, and of course everyone who personally sponsored the riders. Martin Derbyshire.