Tag Archives: cycling

It’s not just about the race…

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FinishSmile

I have flirted with the idea of a duathlon for several years now, so I vowed to finally make it happen in 2016! A gentle push by a fellow runner made me realize that it was indeed time to conquer my fear of racing on a bike. In January, I signed up for my first spinning class with the formidable Nireas Triathlon Club. I puffed incessantly as the group spinned tirelessly, but I was not ready to give up! A few weeks later, I inspired a friend to join along, and by February, we had both committed to participate in the Pervolia Duathlon, a run-bike-run event on March 13.

My first duathlon would be dedicated to the loving memory of a dear friend of heart, Kyriakos (Koullis) Pontikis (aka my Zen Master). Koullis’ oasis of calmness, words of wisdom, unparalleled wit and cheeky smile sealed my commitment to this race and accompanied me throughout my training.

Koullis Pontikis

But, more about this thrilling experience in my letter to Koullis…

My dearest Friend,

My decision to race was coupled with three vows:

  1. Don’t be intimidated by faster cyclists
  2. Don’t fall
  3. Enjoy the journey, and smile along!

But, I was extremely nervous yesterday. Not only would I be racing on a bike for the first time, I would also be ‘competing’ against robust triathletes, including a handful of Russian Olympians (!) or so, I was informed. 

Have I mentioned that I would be racing on a mountain bike (aka ‘fat tires’), while everyone else would be on a road bike with much higher gearing? More like a Fiat against 99 Ferrari’s.

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 ‘Just make sure you stay on the very edge of the street’ my 10-year old buddy, Nicolas advised me before the race. 

We ran the first 5k in glorious weather amidst stunning valleys of wild flowers. Koulli, I have told you before that the runners’ spirit is absolutely reviving and addictive. I just couldn’t stop smiling.

RunStart2RunStartsmile

 

Vow 3, check!

 As I entered the transition area to mount my bike for the 20k leg, I realized that most of the bikes were gone. I struggled on the first loop, cycling against the wind. I soon caught a glimpse of cyclists riding with such speed and natural elegance that I began to wonder what I was doing there. 

But that thought vanished as I recalled Vow 1!

As the first cyclists started to head south to complete their first loop, the words ‘Bravo Mahi’ echoed in my ears. The Nireas team knew that this was a serious leap out of my comfort zone, and they cheered me on, along with dear friends who pampered me with love and hoorays. Vow 3, check again, along with Vow 2! I was on top of the world.

The last leg of the race was a 2.5k run, and I must admit that my legs couldn’t move. But just when I was ready to start walking, a white butterfly fluttered around me. I smiled as a tear slid down my cheek. And I ran that last kilometer with an undeviating smile as I pictured Louis doing the hand jive and getting jiggy with Greased Lightning.

The Russian Olympian finished first at 54min 50sec while the race came to an official close about an hour later. More specifically, at 1H 48min 16 sec. And that exactly was my finish time as it was attained on two legs and two fat tires!

A magnificent journey, dedicated to you… Your LEGACY will forever last in my memory…

PS: I thank Laura Koumas-Lioliou for capturing the very essence of the event through these photos. Laura, I repeat: It’s not just about the race but the wonderful people along your journey!

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

celebrating 10 years into wellness

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wellness
 
Ten years ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. Following an emotional roller coaster of anguish, isolation and thousands of ‘why me?’ questions, this health challenge gradually acted as a wake-up call- a gift of life as my friend says. This ignited a deep desire in him to start living meaningfully and look at life with a REFRESHED eye.
 
Tonight, we celebrated 10 years since his wake-up call into wellness and raised a glass to his words of wisdom:
– simplify life…
– get rid of all the clutter
– find, or re-discover a passion (his one is cycling)
– live meaningfully
– enjoy the moment
– eat healthy- feed your body and nourish your soul
– stay fit
– when you cannot change a situation, change your attitude
 
We followed my friend and his ‘new’ passion into the Old Town of Nicosia with our bikes under the moonlight. And when we stopped for a toast, we wished him many more anniversaries and a life filled with health, love, happiness and passion!

cruising the Old Town under the moonlight

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Easter Saturday was my day to ride- not on the safe, familiar route of the path or park, but through main roads, roundabouts and streets bustling with people, motorbikes and cars. It was a fear which I had to conquer and that recurring itch in my soul was finally urging me to ‘break the shell so that the bird could fly’ (Alfred Tennyson).
 
I was in safe hands in the company of much loved old friends, who promised to safeguard me along the way. I made them promise to bear with my baby pedals until ‘the bird could fly,’ and they assured me that they would.
We meandered our way through the Old Town of Nicosia, feeling its historic heartbeats and experiencing its culture on two wheels while listening to the owls and frogs in the nearby river. It was all a totally different angle from walking through the city, I must admit. And then I remembered my friend Klimentini’s wise words: ‘When you look up, you see the history of a place through the architecture. What is on the ground floor tends to be new additions like shops and restaurants.’
 
Famagusta_Gate_by_Night  onasagorou
 
 
 
Could it be the cool breeze brushing our faces, the satisfaction of exploring, that liberating feeling which cycling carries with it, a unique bonding venture with friends of almost 30 years? I think that it was a blend of ALL these delightful ingredients which refreshed and rejuvenated our mind, body and soul.
 
NsiaOldTown
 
What a truly amazing experience riding under the moonlight! I thank our ‘peloton leader’ Christos for the inspiration and motivation.
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