2011 marked the Cyprus Cycle Challenge’s 15th anniversary and with 54 riders taking to the start line, this year’s iteration also fielded the largest number of riders in the event’s history. The participants were primarily drawn from the British Armed Forces, members of the Local Triathlon Club (The K1 Club) and a contingent from the U.K. The latter included the We Love Mountain RT rider Simon Pickering.The route, set out on the map below, saw the riders cover the greater part of the Southern Cyprus with an occasional foray into the UN controlled Buffer Zone. An overview map shows Day 1 coloured in blue, day 2, in yellow, day 3 in purple and day 4 in green.
Day 1 – Wednesday 27th April from Ayios Nikolaos to Episkopi (156km)
Riding out to the cheers of families and well wishers, events soon settled down and an early stop for Rusty Marnock’s Flapjack and Tiffin cake at Dhekelia beach reassured all riders that gels and bars may be unnecessary on the CCC.
A free ride, when riders were not encumbered by riding in a peloton following an escort vehicle, saw the fast boys (and girls) show their intentions for the remainder of the event. Either that or they were the most ravenous as this free ride finished at the lunch stop! In the event, David Simpson and David Claydon finished the bunch sprint close behind Simon Pickering.
Following lunch an escorted ride through the throbbing metropolis of Limassol saw the riders once again contesting a free ride to the base of Eposkopi. The same three riders revealed their competitive edge once again with David Simpson and his “little bit of local knowledge” this time taking the win.
Simon’s Garmin Connect record of the route, times, temperature, heart rates and such like can be found at:
Clearly depicted within this presentation are the peaks in heart rate for the two free runs with the sprint finishes being at about 180 b.p.m.
Day 2 – Thursday 28th April from Episkopi to Polis via Paphos (100km)
Rusty’s favourite day and “not because there was a lunch stop at K.F.C.” saw the riders head westwards again. An early free ride saw the rider’s first encounter with heavy rain on the Challenge. However, after a photo and cake at Aphrodite’s Rock things soon turned better for most. That said though, whilst going through Paphos, Chris Hymas was brought down by his so called “friend” and sustained some nasty injuries and caused him to spend the remainder of the day nursing his injured shoulder and ribs in the support truck.
The final free ride of the day was a short forewarning of the delights of Trodos the following day. Setting off almost dead last, having removed both coat and extra internal liquid weight, Simon Pickering had a real fight to get back in contact with the leaders. Placing within the second group home this required a 40 minute effort at an average in excess of 170 b.p.m. as can be seen at:
Sadly, a dead battery meant that the final descent into Polis was not captured on the GPS trace. This is a pity as it would undoubtedly have recorded the highest speeds on the C.C.C.. It could also have identified the exact speed that one of the riders experienced a dramatic high speed speed wobble.
Indeed, on the descent Simon was thankful for the Orbea Orca and it’s rock solid handling when he had a “moment” whilst cornering on some gravel and close to the edge of the road. “Had it been on any lesser bike” he commented, “I’m sure that I’d have been joining Chris Hymas in the support truck”
Day 3 – Friday 29th April from Polis to Troodos via Pachyammos (112km)
Rusty’s words upon this tough day, noted how it was “an individual effort all the way to the top.”
The first hour of the ride was neutralized. Then, following a short refilling stop, it was up, up and more up for the next few hours. With the We Love Mountain’s rider coming home in first place, after a 3 hour and 40 minutes ride. Garmin Connect’s readings for Simon reveal that this climb was taken at an average of 160 b.p.m.
However, story of the day would have to be Chris Hymas’ valliant efforts to make it to the top of the mountain, with what was subsequently diagnosed as two broken ribs!
The majority of the field were caught up in some cold and wet conditions reminiscent of Old Blighty. Indeed, there was hail encountered at one point of the ascent of Trodos. Some riders, taking about 9 hours to complete the stage, were understandably tired and emotional at the finish. Having overcome this stage, and with but one more stage to go, a few more riders became tired and emotional later in the bar!
Day 4 – Saturday 30th April from Troodos to Ayios Nikolaos via Nicosia ( 161km)
After a chilly evening in Troodos, events took a turn for the better as all headed down hill on a 27k free run for the first part of the ride. The day included travelling through the UN Buffer zone with splendid sights of the old abandoned airport together with an aeroplane decaying on its stand.
The final free run of 20km into Ayi Nik saw the group speed down the UN corridor to the finishing line at the Forces’ base. However, the stage was marred by a collision on the corridor road which saw three cyclists injured. Hospital treatment was required for some and this included, once more, the hapless Chris Hyams. As arguable the worst injured, six time finisher Chris still made it back to the Bondu Rats’ club house for post Challenge drinks. He also collected the prize for most courageous rider of the event.
The eventual winner of this stage was David Simpson, but a wheel’s length in front of Simon. In commenting upon the winner Simon stated that the order of finish was, “a fitting tribute to David’s strong ride during the latter parts of the stage.”
Garmin Connect data for this stage can be found at:
In total some 500 km was covered in 4 days including approximately 5000m of ascent. The aims of the event of allowing individuals to complete a challenging and memorable event, demonstrating physical and mental resilience, team working, interpersonal and organisational skills would seem to have been well met. Emily Slater also summed up the event well in her boo.
A personal thank you from Simon and all of the Hull based competitors must go out to all participants and support staff (with Rusty singled out in particular) taking part in the event for making it such an enjoyable experience. We were all made to feel very welcome and included within the event as a whole. The organizational efforts and camaraderie of the participants were sincerely and much appreciated.
If you have been taken with interest in this article, then remember that Just Giving have a dedicated page to the event’s charity of Combat Stress.
Well done Simon, picking up the Trophy for the Trodos Stage, which was clearly the stage of the event with Simon leading by several minutes over the whole events timed stage totals.