Cyprus is a hidden treasure within Europe, due to the climate it’s a perfect destination to explore on two wheels during the cold autumn/winter months. After a little bit of research into flight prices, culture, route options, Rafal and Rich couldn’t resist hitting the road. What awaited them when they landed on the island during this silent non-touristic time and how it felt to cycle through a land torn apart politically was an unforgettable experience.
Riders: Rafal Ramatowski & Richard Kurowski
Distance: roughly 600 km
Duration: 7 days of touring
Gear: TRESHOMBRES the WOLFBORN & CBoardman
Scouting for a two-wheel Winter escape from mainland Europe
Freezing your ass off bikepacking is a something only a few of us cyclists wholeheartedly enjoy. As the temperature dropped and the days grew shorter by the minute in southern Germany, we started scouting on Google maps for an affordable/achievable European winter escape.
Hello Cyprus! Dry climate, relatively warm (22 degrees average – day time / 15 degrees average – night time at sea level) and the icing on the cake was the longer days.
Diverse but confined cultural and Political views mixed amongst the impressive landscapes made us hit the ‘book flight now’ button to Larnaka, Cyprus. The adventure was about to start!
Initial route we planned for 7 days of bikepacking in Cyprus
We touched down in Larnaka at 3am. Sunrise was a few hours away, so we began assembling the bicycles under military supervision (haha). It went smoothly, no shots were fired. Next task was to have a caffeine hit and figure out, the closest/safest place to store our bicycle boxes, so that we can pack the bikes again for our flights back. It’s quite an important bridge you have to cross, if you have no fixed accommodation or support car! Trust us, you don't wanna look for a bike box a few hours prior to your departure.
What did we do? We hit the road around 5:30am with one hand holding the box and one hand steering the 25kg fully loaded machine looking for any opportunity to store or hide them. Risky way but we managed to find a perfect spot in the structures of big junction just next to the airport! We collected them 600+ km later without any trouble!
Around 6am we began pedal pushing our way towards Famagusta, over to the Turkish part of Cyprus. If you haven’t read into the history of Famagusta, when you have a second do it!
Famagusta is a city on the east coast of Cyprus. It’s situated east of Nicosia and possesses the deepest harbour of the island. This city is known for its fascinating ancient sights, but of course mostly for its Varosha district, which remains fenced off and military guarded after the Turkish invasion in 1974 till today! Famagusta is frozen in time with derelict/military occupied houses, shops and hotels create a scary and mystic ghost town, we definitely wanted to witness with our own eyes.
After a short cruise through the town and finger-licking Turkish kebab, we left Famagusta heading north-east, towards Karpasia peninsula, where we wanted to spend the first night accompanied by the relaxing music of the sea.
Wild camping on an empty beach gives so much stoke and energy! The next morning, we pedalled up to the north shore of Karpasia through the hilly landscapes of the peninsula. the gravel roads led us to the sea cutting into those stunning peaks. We were aiming to get to the city of Kyrenia that day. The whole day cycling West, enjoying the eastly breeze as we pedal west along the dynamic empty coastal road felt like dream!
Kyrenia is a busy city and although we hoped to get out of the town for the night, the dusk came upon us faster than we expected, so we called into action and turned down a small road climbing up the hills and spent the night overlooking the concrete jungle from above.
Our third day greeted us with another diverse day. Like we mentioned earlier it’s a small island with an extremely diverse landscape, culture and political views so you never know what awaits down the road, which makes the temptation to keep going irresistible. We crossed the mountain range dividing the north coast from the Morfou Bay and cycled along the bay towards the distant high peaks of Troodos Mountains. We wanted to reach the Greek part of Cyprus that day and be ready to attack the mount Olympus the next day. We pitched our tents just behind the border where we found a hidden gem at a little lake close to the town Lefka.
The following forth day was all about climbing! Starting off from our little gem awaited 30km ascent to the Olympus mountain, which is the highest peak on the whole island, reaching 1,952 metres. Sorry to be specific but you will be too once you climb it ;)!
Richard, for whom the whole trip was a bikepacking debut, surprised even himself with his great climbing effort! At the peak of the mountain we were greeted with a spectacular view and by two military bases. Weird, but after a few days in Cyprus you can easily get used to the army presence all over the place.
Anyway, after marvelling the views from the top, and munched on an overpriced but well-deserved lunch we started our search for a quiet and picturesque camp site, which we found some kilometres below. Evening talks by the fire with local beer was the recipe for a good night sleep.
The fifth morning was the coldest so far, spending the night above one thousand meters took the temperature down to 6 degrees in the night - to the limit of what we had with us to put on. We packed the camp and went down freezing our asses off enjoying the super beautiful landscapes of terraced hills. We reached the town of Lofou (The name Lofou was inspired by the Greek word 'lofos' which means 'hill') about 26 kilometers northwest of the city of Limassol, which had so much charm at 780m, we decided to enjoy our breakie in one of the local guesthouses.
Late afternoon Rafal and Richard had to split their ways, since Rafal had to leave Cyprus in the evening, while Rich still had 2 days ahead.
Saying bye in Limassol Rafal took his final 80 km East to Larnaka to collect his bike box and catch the flight. Rich cycled down south west to Limassol Salk Lake by RAF Akrotiri the most southerners point in Cyprus to find out the lake shares the same characteristics as a desert. Fact: “A toxic combination of decreasing rainfall, the abandonment of rural areas and an increase in water consumption over the past few decades has resulted in more than half the island of Cyprus being in immediate danger of desertification. Just 1.5 percent of the land area – the ridge of the Troodos mountain range – is not deemed to be at any such risk.” – very sad.
He pitched his tent around 20 metres away from the RAF runaway amongst the low bushes to hide from the wind and hit the pillow pondering over where to go on day 6..
After descending from roughly 1500m during day 5, Rich felt reincarnated, so he left Limassol energised and headed back up into the mountains in the direction of Leftkara, it felt good to be back on the open mountain roads with reduced traffic. Around 20 km before reaching Leftkara, Rich caught two punchers, his bottom bracket came loose, and brake pads were wearing thin so his Cbroadman was on its last legs, so he decided to have one night in a cheap BnB. This gave him an opportunity to wash his clothes and attempt to repair his bike as much as possible. But hey, what is an adventure without any hiccups?
It was a strange sensation for Rich sleeping back in a normal bed surrounded by 4 concrete walls, it was like he took a cheat card. But damn, the shower, fresh clothes and nearly fully repaired bike did make him feel good as he headed back on his last stretch of open road to Larnaka airport. Rich set off around 12am after a chilled breakfast and some sightseeing, he had 70km of road in front of him to catch his flight. This was subconsciously well planned as his bottom bracket was on its last legs, but it all worked out well. Rich arrived at the airport with no big issues and with his recovered bike box.
Here's the video footage from our tour
Here you can find the final route we made in Cyprus within 7 days
We had a pleasure to test SQ Lab components during the trip in Cyprus! Find out, how the 612 Ergowave Saddle turned out to work for Rich and Rafal on a bikepacking trip HERE!