There is only one stretch that Swedish Dick Fredin from Sundsvall does not cycle, and it is the highway to Nicosia. “Excessively heavy traffic,” says the spry 67-year-old and sports enthusiast with a determined pitch over the phone. Therefore, it is at the bus stop in southern Nicosia we decide to meet on this sunny Wednesday morning. Dick, dressed in dark blue sports jacket and cycling goggles, greets me with a firm handshake. He has travelled here from Larnaca and I from Kyrenia. We sit down in a cafe on Ledra shopping street and I pick up my notepad.
– How have you come to live in Cyprus?
“I live here a half year basis. I come here during the winter months, when the weather is perfect for cycling. Every year I rent apartments in different places, this year I have lived in Tersefánou outside Larnaca, it is a really great place. But next year it would have been nice to have a small studio or apartment in town. I’m thinking about buying something. It’s convenient to have your own place, not least to store the equipment in the months I’m not here.”
It’s not just the accessories for the bike that Dick aims at, he also has a lot of kitchenware, including pots and pans, with him. It is, among other things, by cooking all his food himself that he can keep the costs down.
For the past seven years, Dick has cycled around Cyprus. The years before that, it was the hilly landscape of Mallorca that applied. “That was before retirement, so I spent three to four weeks every winter and cycled,” he says. “After ten years in Mallorca, I started looking for a place that had warmer winters and so I discovered Cyprus. My bikers in Mallorca meant that Cyprus’s landscape is too flat and boring to ride a bike. But that’s not right at all! Here are several heights, among other things we have Troodos Mountains, and they are not flat them, they are even higher than the peaks of Mallorca!”
“Cyprus is perfect for cycling,” continues Dick. “The varied landscape and the many sorts of roads, lined with beautiful churches and buildings, the climate, and above all all the nice people you meet along the way. When in Rome, do as the Romans. I’m trying to talk to everyone I meet and over the years I’ve gotten to known a lot of people, ranging from international cyclists to local villagers. I often stay at small town cafes to chat with the Cypriots. It should be mentioned that there are many nice cafes here.”
Dick has always lived an active life and devoted himself to many different sports. I ask him to list them all, but he stalls the answer. It turns out to be a whole lot of different activities. “Overall, I have been active in seventeen different sports. A lot of athletics for example, including spears and 3000 metres of obstacles. I have won SM (Swedish Championships) in running and competed in skis against World Cup medalist Tomas Magnusson. I have also played table tennis and competed in skating. I’ve always loved running but eventually it became too heavy, now I’m just bicycling,” Dick tells, and also mentions that he ran Vätternrundan two turns the year he participated.
– You are in Cyprus during the winter months, but are you not tempted to stay for a bit of sunbathing and swimming in the summer too?
“No, I despise sitting still. My daughter urges me to calm down, but I have a lot of energy and I think the body and mind feel good and last longer if you are active.”
Dick tells us that he usually travells to Cyprus in October to stay until April, when it becomes too hot to ride a bike. “Over Christmas I go back to Sweden to see my son and daughter with grandchildren, but apart from that I am in Cyprus for six months.”
Over the years, he has cycled most of the stretches of the island, and if the truth arises, it is not uncommon for themselves to call Dick for tips on bike paths. Other international cyclists whom Dick meet along the roads often come from countries like Austria, Germany, France and Greece. So far, Dick has not cycled on the north side of the island, but that’s something he can imagine for the coming season.
– Is there anything to watch out for as a cyclist in Cyprus?
“The only downside to Cyprus is traffic, but the drivers show more respect today than when I came here seven years ago. Unfortunately, I also see many run-over dogs and cats along the roads. It’s sad, I’m a big animal lover and it pains my heart to see. When drivers drive so fast, the poor animals don’t stand a chance to cross the road.”
He has not had many accidents while cycling in Cyprus, but some have become. And Dick does not hesitate to call both the police and the media in such events. “Two years ago, I was forced off the road by a truck. I have a small Gopro camera that I always snap with when I ride, and with it I could get the truck’s registration number.” Dick contacted the police who in turn got in touch with the truck driver. “The driver had not discovered me on the road and became very upset when he was told about the incident from the police. However, it all ended happily and now we wave to each other when we pass on the roads. He recognises me in my Sweden t-shirt I wear when I cycle.”
“Another time in Larnaca I was hit by a girl talking on her mobile while she was driving. Then I flew! I got away with bruises but was in a lot of pain. The times I fly off the bike usually I pull up my knee, I imagine the risk of fractures decreases then.”
Dick is active on social media and often updates his Facebook page with thoughts and opinions. There is a lot of politics, but he also writes about Cyprus. He wants more people to discover this amazing island – not least for the cycling!
Before we part, I ask Dick to give us some tips on good cycle paths in Cyprus, and he has several suggestions: