photos Jiří Sejkora
Before I will start writing, I would like to thank all those who helped to make this crazy idea into reality and who supported me (they know). Special thanks to Franz Bauernhofer, who made great support to us and formed an important part of the support team. Another very important thanks to David Pašek, without whom I would not have the chance to participate in this project.
What was it?
Crazy plan; among other things with idea to bring together people and nationalities. In fact, ride for a peace. In the support team was only Jiří Sejkora as reporter and Franz Bauernhofer as a driver. Both had about 10 other jobs and they did it great. After some time, Jirka talked to me often in English and I have no idea in which language I was responding.
We were six riders: I Ella Csakany [CZ], Martin Komár [CZ], David Pašek [AUT / CZ], Jurek Milewski [AUT / PL], Guido Pfeifferman [AUT] and Niklas Rother [DE]. Such a good combination of nations.
The journey to the Cyprus
We left our homes at Friday 14.4. forenoon and it was an interesting journey. My scooter was wrapped in a bubble foil and a bed sheet sewn together into a bag. I joined Pardubice’s guys (Jiří and Martin) in Brno on the train.
When we arrived to the Vienna railway station, we had to buy tickets to the. Oops, only automatic machines. Since I was perfectly trained by the Finnish train ticket machine system, I did not have a problem with it.
At the airport, we almost all met. Niklas had to join us in Istanbul and we were waiting for Jurek. We’ve all been checked in and Jurek was still nowhere. About ten minutes before closing the desk, Jurek finally arrived and everything went good.
We arrived to Ercan (Cyprus) when all was in the dark and where Franz welcomed us. We went into the car and began to wonder. No one of us thought, that here they ride at the left side. During the ride, we did not see any hills in the dark landscape, and all the surrounding buildings were on the flat land. We decided that here are no hills.
Looking around day
We’ve got an accommodation in the evening, and I, as the only woman, got my entire place two floors above the guys. I felt a little lonely.
At the morning was a bit of a shock to everyone. It was warm and we were surrounded by…hills. And quite steep and high hills.
After a magnificent breakfast, we went to arrange a few things and meet the press. In Nicosia, we’ve met the local reporter and went through the historic centre…well…just a few streets very quickly. I was feeling a bit uneasy in the tight miniskirt. I wasn’t wearing this kind of clothing for a year and I was afraid if it was too revealing.
The local people were something totally different than we expected in all next days. No one had a problem with us, neither we with them. In addition, local ladies were in classic clothes (often in a sweatshirt and jeans), some with a scarf over their hair. Here are two main religions: Christianity and Islamism.
An interesting “surprise” was the season of oranges that were also blooming. I’m a little embarassed about this botanical information slipping out of my head. The strawberries just ready to pick. From a phenological point of view, was the end of the vegetation, which was visible all around. Everything was green, the spring flowers already faded, the fruits ready to pick, the grain too…
Most of us also bathed in the sea, about which we were told it is cold. It was not that terrible. It was a pleasant chill.We were told, that the temperature does not fall below approximately 15 ° C. But I already (slightly against my will) bathed in the sea in December.
The ride and the first problems
In the morning, I woke up before the alarm. So, not at 3 am, but at about 2:50. Then there was packing our bags, scooters and everything into car. The start was around six o’clock in the morning, and somehow without breakfast. Fortunately, I had one Pardubice’s gingerbread and then something more, I found somewhere.
We started with dawn. I was naively wrapped in a jacket that made me feel hot in five minutes. Discomfort began. During the first few kilometres I had to confront myself with my comfort and scooter. But after the first brake use, problems began. The brake was slowing me down when it shouldn’t, and I was losing the guys. I had to go after them in a fast pace. Kicking the brake to the side helped. But I was still losing them, I was using too much effort. In downhill they were going much faster than I could go, and I was still upset about the problem and that this is not possible for longer time.
For a moment, the scooter was okay, but they were still much faster in downhill. Niklas offered me his scooter to try. I had feeling, that going on something like this is cheating because it was so effortless. Carbon PG made perfectly to fit Niklas.
Soon, they dismounted my rear brake from my scooter. I asked if Niklas wants his scooter back, but he left it to me. At the downhill I said I will return it, but after a few small tests I found out how the scooter is behaving and I had no problem with downhill anymore. From that moment, I stopped asking for a changing back, enjoying the ride and fought with the handlebars where I had trouble to touch on the brake – it was a bit too far.
Then came the evil in the form of hills. At first I thought I don’t have a chance to make it and all team was gone. Niklas was obviously bored, so he went back and decided to encourage me. I tried to talk to him, or at least make an agreeing or disagreeing sounds accompanied by my heavy hearable breath. In the next part of the many-kilometres climb, my mood was always improved when Martin gave up and decided to walk beside ride while I had no trouble to continue kicking … for a few more moments. Sometimes I’ve got pushing when uphill, which was actually nice.
Much worse was the downhill. What a nice surprise when I found out that PG is behaving well and stable in the bends, much better than my Kickbike with a small rear wheel and quite differently from my Mibo Revoo. In addition, Niklas’s front brake was effective, not like with my carbon wheel. The problem was just that my hands were moving forward from the handlebars and I barely could reach the brake. There was a lot of hairpin bends, sometimes I was very nervous, but the team was always waiting for a coward like me.
After the hilly part of the route, I was horrified to find that we did only about 80 km, and we still have 200 km to go. And I was already tired and had rubber-like legs! To my comforting was (almost) flat road upcoming, where I could slowly regenerate and get my power back.
At the border of the Turkish part, a police escort joined us, which seemed very grumpy and harsh. The police car swiftly rode up the hill, and in a moment, he found out that we can’t go uphill 30 km/h and not even 20 km/h.
Finally, a slight boredom came. It was no longer possible to enjoy the mountain landscape, botanically very attractive and the flatter and more boring part started. Finally, I got used to that and talked with the team members. Slowly the slight headwind began, so were changing places in leading positions.
The flat part began to blend to me very quickly, and I do not even remember what was before and later. Anyway, Niklas made a stop to buy a bowl of strawberries next to the road. The police escort was changing and the people stared at us in disbelief. Many drivers in the opposite direction waved and honked at us, including several police patrols that we passed. The article about Crossing Cyprus was published in a Turkish newspaper a day earlier. They told us it is a very popular newspaper.
Perfect were two motorcycle policemen. When I had in downhill about 60 km/h, at first, he was doing nothing. But when he saw, that I am closer and closer, he speeded up and he reached his colleague in front. In addition, in cities they were amazing, especially in roundabout, where we could easily pass. When we managed to get into the right lane after a crossing, they quickly redirected us back to the left.
The first difficulties in form of the cramps began to appear – Martin and David. Martin solved it with a handful of salt right in his mouth second handful in the bottle. For me the salted halloumi (cheese) was enough. Despite my light citrus allergy, I could not resist for a long time, and from the cautious sentences like “I’ll take a little bit of it” become “I want the whole orange” – luckily without consequences. My body quickly consumed a large amount of water in the body, and I, despite constant drinking, had a big thirst which I was able suppress only with juicy oranges. Moreover, it was badly hot over noon.
At the moment, we approached the mountains the interesting scenery appeared. The whole island was botanically interesting, but geologically it is amazing and I was enjoying the rock and shape diversity. From sediments to volcanic rocks. In addition, all was shaped by water, somewhere even very distinctively, so I’ve spent most of the ride imagining what is a geological story of the whole island.
Approximately 50 km before the end, the sunset became and I began to feel a very uncomfortable pain in my calf muscle. This was not a common muscle fatigue, but a problem. So, I began to save my leg and went more on the other. Long ago, I stopped perceive all of those “last hills”. I’m used to the fact that no hill is the last one, and there is always more to be found behind the “last” hill.
When the heavy darkness surrounded us, we set the lights on. My headlight is weak and I am trying to use the lights of the escort car right behind me. Even so, I’m extremely slow in downhills, it’s no longer the 70 km/h on straight roads. Czech roads have taught me to fear downhill riding in the night. The ride during the dark also meant a second defect, Martin had it first. Fortunately, at almost zero speed. I cannot imagine that I had the defect in downhill; the frame was scratching the ground.
When the last 30 km was ahead us, I’ve got a message from my boyfriend that if I do it, he will be carrying me on arms the whole week (which he did – also literally). Although the message was sent at noon, it arrived to me with perfect timing, because my motivation had already fallen and the ride started to be quite annoying. Even when we rode about 24 km/h on flat roads after so many kilometres.
Crisis and the relieving end
I’ve been shallow breathing for a while, because a deeper breath made me cough. This, along with the increased speed on the flats, made me sick from moment to moment. It was like getting a slap. I was feeling languid (I couldn’t find better word). Rather, I informed Martin about this, so he would not be afraid if they will be picking me up from asphalt. I did not dare to ride another hill, instead I was leaning on the handlebar, lowered my head and breathed deeply. My body was not mine, it was totally someone else’s I barely controlled it. There was a pause at the top of the hill, so I poured Coca-Cola into myself, sat and after a while it was good again.
Soon the last few kilometres were ahead of us – a bad surface with deep holes. That path seemed endless to us. The police escort always awaited us on top of the hill. Probably to show us that the way leads uphill again and it does not end. The light of the accompanying car illuminated my way.
At one moment, someone in front yelled „a hole”. Both Niklas and Martin rode each to different side and I hadn’t time to react. Because I didn’t want to end in that about 10 cm deep hole, I quickly jumped off the scooter and jumped over the hole. After a few kilometres, no one bothered to report holes because there was to many of them.
My Kickbike was easily hearable as the loose metal sheet was scratching the ground. Somewhere along the way, a rivet was torn off and the scooter was scratching on everything.
On this asphalt in absolute dark I wanted to end it several times. I wanted to put off a scooter saying that I really don’t have the nerves for this and sit on the road side. But I had no other choice, so I had to finish it. What has happened after a tedious journey, and we stood at the eastern tip of Cyprus after 16 hours and 45 minutes riding – including breaks.
I stopped with relief and surprisingly realized that I was not as tired as I had expected. Yes, my muscles hurt, and I wanted to sleep – who wouldn’t after just a couple of hours sleeping – but on the other hand I felt quite fresh, only with heavy legs.
In the bus on the way back, I fell asleep in seconds. In our new accommodation, I resigned to be in my own house, and insolently went to a house with guys – so I wasn’t alone again. We fell asleep very fast.
After a day of regeneration with bathing and exploring the surroundings, we had our last breakfast here. Directly on the terrace with view on the sea, we enjoyed a splendid breakfast, after which nobody could have been hungry. In the shade was a pleasant 25 °C, but in the sun, was 42 °C and I was dying from heat.
During all travelling in that day, I was most of the time extremely overheated, so some 3 °C in Vienna was a big relief for me. In the evening, Guido had accommodated us so we did not have to go from Vienna that late in the evening.
The next morning, we were greeted with snow. I was a little surprised and at the same time happy to see the snow falling on the blooming lilacs. Although it is not the exception to freeze in May, usually it doesn’t snow from March.
Despite all my personal problems while riding, I would like to repeat similar craziness. Unless, the temperature would not be above 25 °C (20 °C better) and big hills – maybe if I had good brakes.
P.S.: It was so much easier than my “just visit” in Vienna last year. It was about 240 km, practically flat terrain, but I was on the road alone. About last 40 km I wanted to throw kickbike to the fields and stay there because I was tired and my legs hurt badly; but it was a bit too cold to stay overnight in the middle of the fields.
All articles I could find:
FB Crossing Cyprus [EN] – https://www.facebook.com/crossingcyprus2017/?fref=nf
28.3. 2017 Crossing Cyprus [CZ] – http://www.kolobezkovyportal.cz/cs/clanky/crossing-cyprus-prejezd-kypru-na-kolobezce-234
14.4. 2017 Record attempt [EN] – http://in-cyprus.com/footbikers-take-on-world-record-challenge-for-peace/
14.4. 2017 Online report [CZ] – http://pardubicky.denik.cz/online-reportaz/reportaz/kolobezci-na-kypru.html
15.4. 2017 They have a plan [CZ]- http://pardubicky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/kolobezci-maji-plan-prejet-cely-ostrov-kypr-za-jeden-den-20170405.html
15.4. 2017 Record attempt [TR] – http://www.yeniduzen.com/sinirlari-astilar-yeni-bir-rekora-imza-attilar-386g.htm
16.4. 2017 They did it [CZ] – http://pardubicky.denik.cz/z-regionu/sledujte-s-nami-kolobezci-jedou-zdolat-kypr-20170414.html
18.4. 2017 They did it [CZ]- http://pardubicky.denik.cz/z-regionu/zvladli-to-kolobezci-prekonali-kypr-20170418.html
21.4. 2017 Crossing Cyprus [DE] – http://www.tritt.at/2017/04/21/crossing-cyprus-2017-bericht/
26.4. 2017 Crossing Cyprus [CZ] – http://www.kolobezkovyportal.cz/cs/clanky/crossing-cyprus-vse-o-prejezdu-kypru-na-kolobezce-256