Source: Marios Spyrou
Downhill...a sport that has been growing large over the last few decades and every year bikes and tracks are becoming better and wilder. In some countries though, this extreme sport is underdeveloped. One of these countries is my country, Cyprus. A small and beautiful island situated in the Mediterranean sea. An island, which most of the year, has something which many people would like to have, especial during winter months, the sun.More about Cyprus inside
,The geomorphology of the island, which is surrounded by sea, is a combination of flat land and mountains. Also the temperatures most of the year are just perfect for any sort of cycling. Because of the terrain and the weather the island is a nice spot to train either Mountain Biking or road cycling. That is why for a number of years now, people from colder countries, come over when they are preparing themselves for the racing season and train. (Find more details at www.visitcyprus.com
Cyprus, is a country with little history on cycling. It has a national cycling federation which organizes road and cross country races at national level and it has a national cycling team. Also for a number of years now a big Mountain Bike event has been taking place annually. At this event you'll find famous names from the European Cross Country scene. This is the so called Sunshine Cup
which is a series of cross country races, which take place around the country.
This year for the first time, on the 20th of February 2010, the first official Downhill event will take place. Since last year, myself and a number of friends who like downhill and all-mountain riding, have worked together to create (we're still developing) the first ever proper mini-Downhill course at a mountain named Oroklini. All the work is done during the weekends on a voluntary basis because we've all got our professions to tend to during the week. All of us who love Downhill contribute to the development of the race track in an effort to open the Downhill scene in Cyprus and to bring new Mountain Biking disciplines to the island.
The Oroklini mini-DH course, which million of years ago was covered with water, is situated on a mountain that is only three minutes away by car, from the sea! (you can imagine what we're doing most of the time after we've finished training…we head to the sea!) The peak, where the Downhill course starts, is 206 meters and the finish area 53 meters above sea level. The terrain is dry, rocky land with loose rocks, low dry plantation (the place is full of spikes) and “powder” soil, which when it's dry is very loose and when it's wet is very sticky. This sort of terrain helps us to move soil with ease and create jumps and other technical sections really fast.
The starting point of the Downhill track is above an abandoned army bunker. We use the bunker, because it helps us get speed faster rather than starting from flat.
The track immediately puts the rider onto rocks and then there is a berm which leads to a flat lane for about 10 meters. After that there is a small jump. As you can see from the jump to build all the obstacles on the track we used woods, stones and soil.
Then the track declines a bit more and after a berm the rider has to jump over a gap. Due to the nature of the earth on this area we could not get enough soil to build this jump from the spot, because just few centimeters underneath the soil there are rocks. So, we had to carry soil with a trailer from the bottom of the mountain. It took us 2 weekends to build this jump but eventually we did it!
3-4 meters after the jump there is a drop with a flat landing and then immediately the rider is put into the rock section which is 300-400 meters long and not very declined. In order to get through the rocks fast enough the riders need to pedal a lot. Here is where we are testing our abilities on pedaling and handling the bike over terrain that change constantly. After the rock section, the rider is lead onto a small straight line which heads to a jump and then continues on a country road. 20 meters after the jump the route turns left and immediately the rider must jump over a drop and then another big jump which eventually leads to a steep technical section.
The final part of the course is a fast, almost straight, lane which ends with two jumps at the end. The total length of the course is about 1500 meters and it takes a good rider 2 and half maybe 3 minutes to finish. The rider does not get high speeds like those found on larger Downhill courses but what is nice with this track is that it is full of obstacles, which test your technical abilities.
On the 20th of February we hope to get a number of local riders together to race. We are in the process of organizing the event as best and as safe as we can so that it will be established as an annual event or to do it every 6 months (one winter and one summer race). For the moment we are in the process of finding sponsors who want to support our efforts. My future aim is to open more downhill courses and promote downhill on the island, an idea which finds more and more supporters. I hope that, through this race, I will make more people aware of the sport of downhill, especially youngsters, and hopefully in the next few years to have a proper downhill course developed under UCI standards where riders from many countries will come and compete on it.