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Mounting biking over the trails of Cyprus July 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Limassol.
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Article by our special correspondent Gabriel Gabrielides in Cyprus. 

He’s an ex RAF physical education officer, an all-terrain survival instructor, ski, canoe, and windsurf instructor, mountain climber and mountain biker; he is also familiar with jumping out of planes. In other words, Adrian (Ade) Condren is the sort of chap I would happily follow into the jungle, such is his consummate professionalism and deeply comforting skill bank. So when my brother, Donald, announced he was flying over for a week’s holiday and could I arrange to fit in a spot of mountain biking, Ade was the automatic choice to ensure my sibling returned home minus an “asphalt face plant” (facial skin abrasions), “bacon rashers” (scabs on the knees and elbows) or indeed kept to the minimum any “involuntary dismounts” (crashes).

Yes, like everything else when it comes to guys and their toys, there is a whole language to accompany each different pursuit and mountain bikers are no different. But you must always remember they are definitely different from those road racing chaps with the ‘lunch box’ turquoise lycra pants bent over hoop handlebars.

I also learnt that those who indulge in top-class mountain biking consider it a very serious pursuit, not a sport to be pursued unless one is exceedingly confident and in a reasonable state of physical fitness.

That said, Ade does take out those who have just acquired a taste for the sport and will, through his patient coaching, always strive to improve his less experienced clients’ level of riding. The other great bonus is that Cyprus is sneakily catching up with other venues in Europe as the ‘in place’ to offer superb bike trails, with magnificent rides in and around Paphos and the Troodos.

Donald met up with Ade at 8.30am outside his Bike Trek Cyprus shop in Pissouri. With just a swift glance at the bikes on offer to the clients, Donald was able to tell that this guy was serious, not only about his sport, but about giving his clients the kind of ride they expected from such professional equipment. Ade later told me that real mountain bikers always ask first “What kind of bikes do you supply” – that’s the key.

Sheila, Ade’s wife and business partner, informs me that before he had invested in this particular line of bikes, he went over to the UK and personally stripped down to a thousand pieces one of the bikes and then rebuilt it, after which he purchased not only the fleet of bikes but all the necessary tools to maintain the machines, so Ade can now service and give all repairs and on the spot tweaking to his ‘fleet’.

That in itself tells you a great deal about the man. Safety is paramount as far as Ade is concerned. He always takes his clients out for a quick turn around the back road, where he will ascertain the level of skill each person has, and at the same time quickly gauges their level of fitness. The quick cycle turned out to be a 20-minute mini trek, which, had I been insane enough to join, would have had me resting my backside on a rubber inner tube for a week.

That’s when I discovered the secret trouser addition that mountain biker’s posses – no wonder, having seen the shape of the saddle which looked like a pure Gothic instrument of torture. To counteract the chaffing and constant centrifugal forces, they have stitched into their trousers a sort of Pampers-like padding.

Donald was considered by Abe to be experienced enough to take on a challenging two-day trail, starting from 1,746 metres on a 22-kilometre trail on the north side of the Troodos, on to Prodromos – the highest village on the range – a ride through the Solea valley, then a 14km ride to the lovely village of Kakopetria, where they stayed overnight at one of my favourite hotels, The Mill.

I phoned my brother there to check that he was still in one piece and was greeted by a tired but happy voice telling me: “That was the absolute best ride I’ve had in a long time. The uphill riding to get to 1,501 metres was something else, but we were well rewarded for our efforts by some great scenery.”

The next morning, Ade had planned the Mandari Mountain trail and they went to Chandria, followed 25km of Pitsilia trails, which included Kourdhali, Spilia and a visit to the EOKA resistance fighters’ caves, then on down the Atsas valley stopping off to admire the mediaeval church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This allowed the pair scope for single-track trails with, as Donald described, “plenty of opportunity for fast technical downhill sections”. Then it was back to Pissouri.

Next day Donald had a rest day, his kit was washed, helmet cleaned, his camel pack disinfected (a great item, essential when travelling in places where there is nowhere to pop into for fresh water: it’s a well-designed bladder that goes on the rider’s back filled with water, with a tube that runs from the shoulder over to the mouth so the rider can sip and ride at the same time).

After a day relaxing and poring over maps of the Troodos, pointing out all the places he had been to, I realised that my brother got to see vistas in two days that I hadn’t seen in 10 years and probably will never ever see except from a helicopter.

The next ride started in Nata, then on to Kholetria (the chaps rode the trail to visit the 13th century Sindi monastery), through the Xeros valley and finished by climbing 746 metres to Galataria and a very welcome lunch at the Galataria family restaurant, where we all sat down to what turned out to be an extended luncheon, fuelled happily with bottles of wine from Panagia, souvla, stifado, and stuffed marrow flowers.

Over the days, Donald travelled a total of 80km and climbed over 697 metres: “Ade has to be one of the best guides and instructors I have met, even after only this short time with him, I came off the mountain a much better rider, safer, and faster, I also learnt new MTB skills.

“Cyprus offers superb trails, the best I have ever seen or been on. Any serious mountain biker would love it here, and if people aren’t that experienced bikers, then easier trails can be designed to cater for beginners and upwards.

“Another thing, Ade is a great guy to ride with, as he knows the country and its history. I learnt more about the flora, fauna, wildlife and history of island in three days with Ade than I would ever have got by reading a travel book.”

Professional mountain biking guiding and bike hire from Bike Trek Cyprus. Sheila and Ade Condren, Ampelonon Street, PO Box 59404, 4607 Pissouri Bay, Tel/Fax 25-221925, mobile 99-939275, info@biketrekcyprus.com. www.biketrekcyprus.com
 

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