A unique climb in the spring training paradise of Cyprus. Though the segment starts in Kato Platres, the route to get up here starts on the coast with an almost 2,000 metres of vertical ascent in one climb! There are very few cycling routes in the world that start on the beach and finish at a ski resort.
Riding in Cyprus
Boasting the most sunshine in Europe, rolling hills, high mountains and exceptional road surfaces with almost no traffic, Cyprus is rapidly becoming a major spring training destination. The majority of riders stay in Paphos and alternate easier days with rides in the Troodos mountains and Paphos forest.
When to Ride Mt Olympus
The main cycling season in Cyprus is mid-February to early-May. Autumn is also a great time to visit, particularly in October and November. You can definitely come in mid-winter when it is still sunny but be warned; there is more rain . However, the summer is busy on the roads and can be unbearably hot. Coming in spring means there will likely be snow on the summit of Olympus and the valleys will be green, but you might get a half day of rain. In the autumn, it is much drier but the trade off is the scenery becomes much more arid.
Riding Mt Olympus
The segment starts in the mountain town of Kato Platres which is reached by a climb from sea level to 915m. Assuming a start in Paphos, the first 15 kilometres is pancake flat on the airport road and a good warm-up. There are three main ways up to Kato Platres but the most direct is the “Wind Farm” road turning off the main road by the village of Kouklia. Over the next 40km, the climb goes up from sea level to 915m. A third of the climbing is done in the first 6km with a gradient of just over 5%. Road surfaces in Cyprus are generally excellent, but on this particular section it is absolutely amazing and outside of the summer peak, there is very little traffic on these smaller roads. All of the routes up to the Troodos mountains are rolling with flat sections and downhills. This way up has 8 different small climbs followed by easier sections but the cumulative effect of almost 1,500m of climbing before the segment starts makes Mt Olympus a tough day.
The Segment: Kato Platres to Mt Olympus
At almost 1,000m, the towns now start to have more of a mountain feel. The gradients increase from Mandria and after the 3 to 6% gradients on the way up, the road now hits 7% and stays there for most of the way. After 3km, you ride through the bigger town of Platres which has a number of restaurants and cafes here if you need a quick stop.
Out of town there are a couple of hairpins and this is one of the steepest parts of the climb, with some short parts over a 10% gradient. The trees here tower over the road giving shade as the landscape and temperatures starts to change as we get over 1,200m. The next 8km between Platres and the main mountain town of Troodos is quite tough. The main road from Limassol joins here so there can be more road traffic than the first part of the climb and the gradients rarely ease up.
The town of Troodos is at 1700m and this is a proper mountain town. This could be a time to put on a jacket as you will start to feel the coldness in the air from this point. There are a couple of cafes and a hotel in town if you need a stop. The left turn out of town to Olympus is well sign-posted.
By now the views become more vast and after 2km there is a left turn to take you right up to the summit. The snow line can be anywhere from a few kilometres below Troodos to near this point but at this point in the climb you are likely to see some snow. Along with the hairpins out of Platres, this is another of the hardest parts of the climb with plenty of 10% gradient sections, plus sections with flatter parts making it quite hard to find a rhythm. About 2km after the left turn you can see skiers on your left and a car park close to the bottom of the lifts. Keep going on the road past this and the road finishes about 700m later going over a mini roundabout and up to the military base at the top. By this point it can be very cold (often below 0 degrees even if temperatures elsewhere on the island are warm) so ensure you have some warm weather gear as the descent is not fun at all if you are cold.
Overall, this is a very long and unique climb from sea level to ski resort. The views of rolling hills in the bottom part is lovely and the variety as you get higher keeps the climb interesting. It is a slight anti-climax not having a summit sign at the top but this is a reflection of Cyprus being a lesser-known cycling destination. The long descent back down to the coast is thrilling and Paphos is a great base to enjoy a celebratory beer overlooking the Mediterranean after an epic ride.